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Putin sets major tasks for Russia in annual address to parliament
Updated: 2005-04-25 19:36

Russian President Vladimir Putin spelled out Russia's main tasks for the coming years in his annual state of the nation address to parliament Monday, saying his country faces the challenge of developing as a free and democratic country.

"The main political-ideological task is the development of Russia as a free, democratic country," Putin was quoted by Russian news agencies as telling the joint session of the upper and lower houses of the Federal Assembly.

"The provision of human rights and freedoms is vitally important for the economic, public and political life of Russia," he said in the one-hour address, broadcast live nationwide.

Lawmakers from the 178-seat Federation Council and 450-seat State Duma, as well as government officials, governors and religious representatives, gathered in the Kremlin as Putin delivered his second annual speech in his second term.

It is the sixth time Putin addressed the parliament to outline priorities in the country's development.

Putin said the nation's main tasks now are strengthening the state, boost the rule of law and judicial institutions, and economic liberalization, saying Russia's place in the world "will be defined by how strong and successful we are."

The president said Russia needs a heavy influx of foreign investment and relations between the state and private investors must be defined clearly.

"The spheres of the economy where the presence of the state is important must be define clearly," Putin said, referring to the strategic natural resources sector and infrastructure projects.

"As we retain control of a number of sectors of the economy, we must create favorable conditions for investors," Putin said.

The president urged the government to speed up work on reducing the statute of limitations on past privatization deals from 10 years to three years.

Speaking on terrorism, Putin described the terrorist threat to Russia as "very serious" and warned against any slackness in fighting it.

"Over the past few years, a great deal has been done in the struggle against terrorism, but the threat remains very serious, and we continue to get very bad blows," he said.

"We must pluck up courage and keep up the work to root out terror. Should we display weakness or laxity, losses will be immeasurably greater," he warned.

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