Address to the Nation

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Address to the Nation.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Citizens of Russia, friends,

I am reaching out to you on an issue that has become a matter of concern for all of us.

We are witnessing an acute escalation
of the coronavirus epidemic on a global scale. The number of new cases
continues to grow in many countries. The global economy as a whole is at risk,
and is already expected to shrink.

By taking precautionary measures, we
have been largely able to prevent the infection from rapidly spreading and limit
the incidence rate. However, we have to understand that Russia cannot insulate
itself from this threat, simply considering its geography. There are countries
along our borders that have already been seriously affected by the epidemic,
which means that in all objectivity it is impossible to stop it from spilling
over into Russia.

That said, being professional, well
organised and proactive is what we can do and are already doing. The lives and health of our citizens is our top priority.

We have mobilised all the capabilities and resources for deploying a system of timely prevention and treatment.
I would like to specially address doctors, paramedics, nurses, staff at hospitals, outpatient clinics, rural paramedic centres, ambulance services, and researchers: you are at the forefront of dealing with this situation. My heartfelt gratitude to you for your dedicated efforts.

I would like to ask Russian citizens
to listen very carefully to the advice coming from doctors and the authorities.
This could make a very big difference at this point in time. This is especially
true for the most vulnerable categories of citizens: the elderly and people who
have chronic illnesses. Minimising the risks should be a priority for them and all
people in general.

There is also the question of the national vote
on the amendments to the Constitution, which has been tentatively scheduled for April 22. You know that this is a very serious matter to me. Of course, I will
ask you to go to the polling stations to express your opinion on this issue of fundamental and crucial importance to the country and society.

However, as I said before, our absolute
priority is the health, life and safety of the people. This is why I believe
the vote should be postponed.

We will look at the situation in the regions
and throughout the country, and we will rely on the professional opinion and recommendations of doctors and specialists when setting a new date for this vote.

Next, the immediate priority is to prevent the quick
spread of this diseases.

Therefore, I declare next week to be an official non-work period while maintaining wages. In other words, the days off
will last from Saturday March 28 to Sunday April 5.

Of course, all public infrastructure facilities, including medical facilities,
pharmacies, stores, institutions responsible for banking and financial settlements,
as well as transport, and ministries and agencies at all levels, will continue
working.

As I said, the extended days off are being
declared to reduce the speed of the virus spreading.

I am addressing all our citizens. Let us not
rely on chance as we tend to do in Russia. Do not think, as we usually do, that
this cannot happen to you. It can happen to anyone. And then we will very quickly
see what is now happening in many western countries, in Europe and across the ocean, happen here in Russia. We must strictly comply with all the recommendations.
We must protect ourselves, our families and friends, and we must adopt a more
disciplined and responsible approach. Trust me: the best thing to do now is
stay home.

I will now specifically focus on the current
socioeconomic situation. Here, we also need to take additional steps, primarily
to ensure the social protection of our people, their incomes and jobs, as well
as support for small and medium-sized businesses, which employ millions of people.

In this regard, the following priority measures
will be implemented.

First, all social protection benefits that our
citizens are entitled to, should be renewed automatically over the next six
months, with no additional certificates or visits to the authorities needed.
For example, if a family is entitled to subsidised housing and utility payments,
they will not need to regularly confirm their per capita income to continue
receiving this state support.

Please note that all payments to war veterans
and home-front workers timed to the 75th anniversary of the Great
Victory, 75,000 and 50,000 rubles, respectively, should be made before the May
holidays, earlier than usual, in April.

Second, it is essential to support families
with children. In the next three months, starting in April, I propose paying
all families that are eligible to maternity capital, an additional 5,000 rubles
a month for each child up
to three years of age.

This support is especially important for families with children who are not attending day-care nurseries or kindergartens,
and for parents who are on sick leave or on maternity leave.

Regarding our new support package, I mean
benefits for children aged 3 to 7, I now instruct the Government to expedite all
organisational arrangements so that eligible families can start receiving these
payments not in July, as planned, but a month earlier, in June. I also ask the governors to expedite the transfer of the necessary information from the regional
civil registry offices to the tax service. Colleagues, it is fundamentally
important to start making these payments. Pay attention to this.

To be
continued.

from http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/63061

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