National idea as vital priority in global competition
Addressing an assembly of officials, politicians and political experts on the closing day of the international forum Valdai Club, the Russian President said that the nation had already left behind the “fundamental conservatism” characterized by the idealization of Russian history after 1917 and that it was impossible to resurrect Soviet ideology.
However, the president noted that those who supported conservative ideology were as far removed from real life as the followers of western-style liberalism.
The Russian leader emphasized that the progressive movement was impossible without spiritual, cultural and national self-determination, adding that Russia was facing another convolution in global competition and success in it was vitally important.
According to Putin, history has shown the impossibility of imposing a national idea from above and mechanically copying other countries’ experiences was not effective either. He added that resistance to the primitive borrowing of ideas and attempts to civilize Russia from abroad could be explained by the citizens’ inherent drive for independence and sovereignty in spiritual, ideological and political spheres. Putin also noted that such an approach had often failed in other nations of the world.
“The time when readymade lifestyle models could be installed in foreign states like computer programs has already passed,” Putin told the Valdai forum.
All-sided dialogue, but no ethnic separatism
The president then said that all political forces must join the discussion about national ideology, urging the opposing camps to listen to each other and to abandon the practice of total nihilism and criticism.
Putin especially warned the nationalist wing, saying that those who forget that Russia was a multi-ethnic state and attempt to speculate on regional separatism “step on a path of destruction of their own genetic code and, in essence, begin to destroy themselves.”
“Sovereignty, self-reliance and integrity of Russia are unconditional, they are the red lines no one is allowed to step over,” Putin emphasized.
Speaking of the possible basis for the new national idea, the president said that the current Russian leadership chose to rely on traditional Christian and moral values, noting that without these millennia-tested ideals people would “inevitably lose their human dignity”.
Multi-polar world remains priority in foreign policy
In addition, the Russian leader noted that the national revival of Russia was in line with the foreign policy course for a multi-polar world and the prevailing of international law over the rule of brute force.
Putin cautioned against attempts to reanimate the model of a unified and unipolar world, adding that such a system would not need sovereign states, but would need vassals instead.
“Russia is with those who hold that the key decisions must be taken on a collective basis rather than in accordance with plans and interests of certain states or groups of states. International law must work instead of the ‘right of the strong’ and the ‘rule of fists’” Putin told the assembly.
The Russian president again stressed that every country and their people were not exceptional, but they were unique and all had equal rights, including the right to choose their path of development.
No democracy is without flaws
Answering questions after the speech, Putin noted that the current Russian authorities have certain drawbacks and probably could be better, but the same went for the authorities in any democratic country.
“It is perfectly right that Russia deserves better quality leadership in general. However, it is a big and bold question if such leadership exists in other countries, including the one represented by Mr McCain [US Senator John McCain who is a constant critic of Vladimir Putin and Russia’s policies]." Putin explained that the US presidents had been twice elected in a vote where a larger number of electors represented a minority of voters and called such a situation “an absolutely evident flaw in the election process.”
The president again emphasized that the Russian political system must be chosen by Russian citizens and not by “respected colleagues from abroad”. Putin also said that in the recent presidential poll the absolute majority of Russians voted for him and this should be a starting point in any discussion. However, he also agreed that both he and the Russian state institution needed perfecting further and pledged to continue working on this.