At the opening of a Civil Forum in the Kremlin on Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the authorities would lose, if its partner were a society without freedom. According to Putin, "we have been working for many years to strengthen the state, but the state is more than the authorities, and, in the first place, it is judged not only by its political successes and the economic development, but by [its] people, the level of their freedom, and how influential civil society is in one or another state." The president said that there could not be a strong, democratic state with a weak society. "Only fully-fledged societal life can guarantee the state machine from inertia, and its apparatus from stagnation," he stressed. Vladimir Putin pointed out that the ethics adopted by society were directly reflected in the style of the state apparatus' activity and the results of its work. "The most unsuccessful decisions would be attempts to bureaucratise the institutions of civil society. It is clearly not appropriate to imitate the work of state structures here," the president stressed. "It is still difficult to admit to oneself that we have something - and I'm speaking very carefully - that we are starting to get somewhere, the time has come when life in Russia is becoming more or less worthy," the president said. "To be a citizen of Russia is becoming prestigious, the more so as the understanding of a citizen in Russia always meant more than a juridical connection with the state," Vladimir Putin emphasised.
A 20,000-strong group of PMC Wagner fighters stationed in Belarus disappeared from the field of view of the collective West