Putin addresses Russians on the fight against COVID-19 pandemic

Putin addresses Russians on the fight against COVID-19 pandemic

Russian President Vladimir Putin in his message to the nation, thanking the country's citizens for the dignity they demonstrated during the most dangerous stage of the COVID-19 epidemic.

"Just three months have passed. Usually, a period that long, one quarter of a year, flies past quickly and unnoticeably. But in this case, during these hectic days, weeks and months we developed a very different sense of time. They incorporated so much: a sharp change in the daily routine, forced restrictions on work and social contacts, alarm and fears, the grief of losses and of partying with relatives and friends and thoughts of what will happen tomorrow, what is to be done to protect the dearest ones from misfortune and to support the family and parents," the head of state said.

Putin stressed that regardless of everything "it was a time of hope, of gratitude to friends and strangers, who extended a helping hand to those in need, and of pride for those who displayed their best qualities."

Russian society did not find itself lost in the face of the coronavirus threat and was able to respond to this challenge, the Russian president elaborated. 

"It is very important that there was no frustration in our country, in our society. On the contrary, like it was in our history more than once, clear understanding of the situation, the real threat, only consolidated people who saw that the threat could be confronted only jointly and that human life is what matters most," he said, adding that the authorities in their actions relied on these values. "That is why they could respond to the challenge of colossal difficulty," TASS cited him as saying.

Putin thanked Russians for their responsible attitude to their health, for mutual support and dignity they demonstrated during the most dangerous stage of the epidemic, with its lockdowns and restrictions.

He specially thanked volunteers who attended to the elderly and all those who needed special care.

According to Vladimir Putin, strict restrictions allowed the country to hold back the peak of coronavirus epidemic by 1.5-2 months, which saved tens of thousands of lives.

"The fight against the epidemic began back on our borders. Protection measures were boosted immediately, and they played their part, allowed us to repel the first blow, holding the epidemic, its peak, back by 1.5-2 months. Therefore, back in February and early March [they allowed us] to win precious time, which means doing everything possible to save tens of thousands of lives, tens of thousands exactly," the Russian leader addressed the nation.

At the same time, he said that the epidemic is retreating but the virus is still dangerous and people should remain vigilant before the vaccine production begins.

"We are generally making the epidemic retreat and are turning the tide. But the virus is still dangerous and thousands of people are confronted with the disease every day and I request you to remain attentive, careful and vigilant, especially until we begin the mass production of an effective preventive preparation," the Russian leader said.

Currently, 14 Russian federal research centers are working on creating the coronavirus vaccine and the clinical trials of the first samples have begun, Putin said.

However, despite the desire to develop this medicine as soon as possible, it is important to comply with the "do no harm" principle, he stressed.

"There must be absolute confidence in the vaccine’s efficiency, reliability and safety for citizens of all ages and health specifics," the Russian president said.

As the head of state said, "the vaccine by itself is extremely important but it is not a panacea and the threat can be countered only by observing a whole set of sanitary and preventive measures."

Putin suggested reducing the insurance contributions rate from 14% to 7.6% and the income tax rate from 20% to 3% for IT companies.

He also proposed setting a fixed amount of 5 mln rubles ($72,777) per year as tax on revenues from the activities of controlled foreign companies (CFC).

In addition, the Russian President proposed starting from January 1, 2021, to raise personal income tax from 13% to 15% for people with annual incomes exceeding 5 mln rubles ($72,825) per year.

He emphasized that "not all income will be taxed at an increased rate, but only the part that exceeds 5 mln rubles per year", and it will give the budget about 60 bln rubles ($874.7 mln), which will be used for the treatment of children with rare diseases.

"I propose protecting these funds from any other use and targeting them for the treatment of children with severe, rare diseases, to purchase expensive medicine, equipment and rehabilitation tools, high-tech surgeries," he said. "Funds ... of about 60 bln annually will be an addition to the resources that are already allocated for high-tech assistance and medicine provision," Putin added.

He also said that Russia will continue to allocate more than 500 billion rubles ($7.28 billion) to modernize primary care units and will take into account the experience of the coronavirus pandemic in developing its public health sector.