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Speech to the nation: Putin in a spending mood before the Duma election

In his State of the Union address, Vladimir Putin handed out plenty of election gifts to the population affected by Covid before the Duma election. But he earned the most applause for his threats against foreign countries.

It's hard to astonish the audience at the 17th edition of an event. Even the very fiery remarks made by the Kremlin chief about international politics have become somewhat used to them. The list of the most modern Russian weapon systems with which Moscow will protect its "legal national interests" could hardly astonish anyone, even if it evoked the greatest emotions and the greatest applause in the hall.

At best, competition came from Putin's swipe at the unnamed Czechs, whose latest allegations against Moscow he compared with the yapping of the hyena Tabaki under the protection of the tiger Shir Khan (USA) from the jungle book.

Because it fits well into the picture of the constant hostility of the West, Putin also repeated a crude murder thesis that originally came from Alexander Lukashenko. He recently claimed that he and his sons were supposed to be killed in a military coup in Belarus - initiated by the West, of course - while ignoring the fact that during the protests in Minsk, security forces in particular were attacking the demonstrators through violence and killings. " excellent ".

Overall, however, the foreign policy part of Putin's speech was significantly shorter than on previous occasions. The Duma election is due in autumn. For the Kremlin chief, it was a matter of setting a domestic political turning point and declaring the fight against Covid in Russia largely over, even if he warned that "the coronavirus has not yet been finally defeated".

Cushion social consequences

Nevertheless, he saw Russia on the right track: the country had three vaccines and the number of infections was falling. So it's time to deal with the consequences of the pandemic. And these are huge in Russia too: unemployment has skyrocketed, wages have fallen, and the gap between rich and poor has widened.

That is why Putin promised help especially to the poorer sections of the population in the election year. Specifically, single parents, expectant mothers and families with school children can hope for financial support. In addition, Putin also promised money to build schools and pay teachers.

Interestingly, this time the otherwise traditional demands for a "technological breakthrough" by Russia were almost completely absent. Instead, Putin announced quite specifically that he would invest almost 20 billion euros in research by 2024, among other things to make Russia self-sufficient in the production of drugs and vaccines, but also to rebuild the energy sector. There were already words about environmental and climate protection in Putin's earlier speeches. This time, however, it seemed, the accent on it was much stronger than in the past.

However, Putin completely omitted the topic of political competition and citizen participation in politics during the speech. Naturally, the name of the oppositionist Alexei Navalny was never mentioned.

The topic is quite acute in Russia. Concerned about Navalny's health, the opposition called for nationwide demonstrations just the evening after the Putin speech. Of course, the calculation also plays a role in contrasting the confident words of the President about the "unity" of the Russian people with images of police officers hitting demonstrators.

The conflict was foreseeable in advance when the opposition requested the rallies, the authorities then banned the protests as usual and cordoned off the centers of many larger cities and arrested 1,000 demonstrators. In addition, the security forces arrested a number of opposition activists in advance, who face long prison sentences following the tightening of the law. (André Ballin from Moscow, April 21, 2021)