2020 has every chance to remain in the memory of generations for a long time. The coronavirus pandemic has affected all spheres of human life, seriously changed it and in many ways overshadowed other important events that happened in the country and its environs. Among them – voting on amendments to the Constitution, acute conflicts in neighboring states (protests in Belarus, revolution in Kyrgyzstan, war for Karabakh). As well as important, but almost unnoticed by the general public, achievements, such as the successful test of the new domestic MS-21 airliner with innovative PD-14 engines or the long-awaited successes of Roscosmos.
Year of amendments
Amend the Constitution Vladimir Putin proposed during a message to the Federal Assembly in mid-January this year. For discussion and detailed elaboration of the amendments, a working group was created, which included representatives of all strata and social groups of the population – doctors, teachers, entrepreneurs, lawyers, officials, volunteers, representatives of charitable organizations, athletes and artists. They accumulated proposals to amend the Constitution, which came from all over the country.
According to the President, the amendments to the Basic Law were designed to consolidate the country’s achievements for almost three decades that have passed since the adoption of the Constitution in 1993. Among them are the consolidation of the social character of the state, clear obligations of the authorities to the people, such as mandatory indexation of pensions and social payments at least once a year, securing the status of the family, the status of the Russian language, etc. In addition, the new version of the Constitution strengthened Russian sovereignty, including fixing the supremacy of domestic law over international law and prescribing the impossibility for officials and deputies to have foreign citizenship or a residence permit in other states. Also, a constitutional ban was imposed on the seizure of Russian territories.
Not surprisingly, the amendments were approved by an overwhelming majority – 77.92% of those who voted – in the popular vote that ended on July 1. The turnout in the country exceeded 67%.
In his message to the Federal Assembly, Vladimir Putin also voiced a number of economic initiatives that were supposed to become a driver for the country’s further development. A new government was recruited for this task, headed by former head of the Federal Tax Service Mikhail Mishustin… However, the new cabinet had to deal primarily not with development, but with the fight against coronavirus.
For Russia, the COVID-19 pandemic has become a large-scale test of strength, when it was necessary to urgently rebuild and strengthen the entire health care system and at the same time solve the most difficult economic problems caused by restrictive measures to combat infection. And our country as a whole withstood the blow with dignity.
Vladimir Putin immediately outlined the main priority of the state – the life and health of people. A long period of non-working days was announced in March. A significant part of medical facilities have been redesigned to fight the coronavirus. New medical centers were built, and the Ministry of Defense took an active part in this work. An important role was played by volunteer organizations that helped those who especially needed care and assistance in the midst of the pandemic. And the government has allocated more than 830 billion rubles for direct financial support of citizens and doctors.
Russia became the first country in the world to register an effective vaccine against coronavirus, and by December 6, there were already three of them in the country. Large-scale vaccination of the population also began. Russia also helped other countries of the world. In the spring, our military doctors took part in the fight against the epidemic in hard-hit Italy. And today more than 50 countries of the world expect to receive the Russian vaccine.
The economic decline in the Russian Federation was not as strong as in many leading countries of the world. If in the USA and Great Britain it reached 10%, then we have less than 5% of GDP.
The pandemic has given a huge boost to digital technology and online services. The coronavirus has shown the importance of digitalization for the economy and the lives of citizens. At the same time, he contributed to the development of the domestic tourism industry. Instead of Turkey, Thailand and Spain, citizens rushed en masse to Crimea and Sochi and began to discover other domestic travel destinations for themselves: Altai, Karelia, Elbrus.
– It was a difficult year for the new government. I had to make many difficult decisions on the fly, think about how to balance between the need to keep the economy afloat and the desire to send everyone to quarantine in order to prevent the spread of the infection, says AiF.ru political scientist Pavel Danilin… – A way out was found in digitalization, and it’s good that thanks to the actions of the previous cabinet of ministers, the base has already been prepared for this. As a result, unemployment rose, but a critical economic decline was avoided. The created financial reserves also helped, which made it possible to allocate large funds for social support of the population.
The main blow was taken by domestic medicine, which not without difficulties, but withstood it. The pandemic made it possible to uncover chronic optimization issues and begin work on fixing them. The work of domestic pharmacists, who were the first in the world to register a vaccine against coronavirus, also ended in triumph.
In the end, I think we were able to squeeze the maximum out of this. But I hope that next year will not pose such difficult problems for us.
Year of peacekeepers
Despite the dangerous infection, wars around the world not only did not stop, but, it seems, broke out with renewed vigor. It became hot on the Russian borders too. In Belarus and Kyrgyzstan, mass protests began after the last elections, the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which had been smoldering for many years, flared up in Karabakh, and Moldova was also restless. And almost everywhere Russia had to play the role of a peacemaker.
With regard to Belarus, Moscow has taken a balanced position, calling on both sides to dialogue. Moscow refused to intervene directly in the conflict, following the example of the EU and the United States, which in fact advocated the overthrow of power in a sovereign country. Vladimir Putin called the adoption of a new version of the Constitution of Belarus a possible way out of this situation.
Western countries tried to use what had happened to drive a wedge into Russian-Belarusian relations, but this did not happen. As before, the two countries are closest allies. Integration processes are also continuing.
The military conflict between Armenians and Azerbaijanis became a difficult test for the Kremlin, given how large diasporas of both peoples live in Russia and the fact that Moscow has friendly relations with both Yerevan and Baku. However, as a result, Russia managed to end the hot conflict by agreeing with both sides on the introduction of a peacekeeping mission in Karabakh.
– Yes, everything was against us, starting with the coronavirus and ending with sanctions – and nevertheless Russia coped with it, – says Vladimir Zharikhin, deputy director of the Institute of CIS Countries to AiF.ru. – We managed to overcome the most difficult crisis that broke out in Nagorno-Karabakh. Moreover, Moscow has once again confirmed its unique role, when it really enjoys the authority of both sides of the conflict. We managed to end the war and ensure peace in the region, albeit fragile.
The Union State also faced serious challenges, but it would be difficult to expect great integration successes this year. Moreover, given the crisis that broke out in Belarus. Many Western experts rubbed their hands, pointing out that the crisis had a negative impact on the attitude of Belarusians towards Russia. Anyway, in the West, great efforts were made in an attempt to tear Minsk away from Moscow, to “Ukrainize” Belarus. But nothing happened.
Of course, the problems have not been resolved. Many of them remain in a dangling state. But they will have to be solved already in the new year. Let’s hope it turns out to be successful for us.
Year of the 75th anniversary of Victory
The country was preparing to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Great Victory with large-scale celebrations. The coronavirus has made its own adjustments to these plans. For the sake of the health of the veterans and all Russians in general, it was decided to postpone the Victory Parade on May 9. It eventually took place on June 24 (the 75th anniversary of the legendary 1945 Victory Parade), when the first wave of coronavirus subsided.
One of the main symbols of the holiday was the opening of the Memorial to the Soviet Soldier near Rzhev. The Battle of Rzhev, which cost the Red Army heavy losses, was undeservedly forgotten in Soviet times. The symbol of the campaign to preserve the memory of the war, including the most difficult and controversial pages for Russia and the USSR, was the opening of this memorial – a huge 25-meter figure of a soldier, as if hovering above the ground, disintegrating into flying cranes from below. The opening was attended by Vladimir Putin and Alexander Lukashenko…
Restoration and improvement were carried out at many other war monuments – the Motherland memorial on Mamayev Kurgan, in the museum in Prokhorovka, etc. There were also other actions that have already become traditional for the celebration of May 9, most in online format – “Immortal Regiment”, “Candle of Memory”, “Garden of Memory”.
The coronavirus was unable to stop the development and implementation of numerous technological projects that were supposed to improve the daily life of the country, advance the domestic science and industry.
Thus, in August, Vladimir Putin officially opened traffic on the Tavrida highway in Crimea, which was designed to relieve traffic on Crimean roads. The construction of another important infrastructure project was launched – the Meridian highway, which is to connect Europe and China through Russia. Its cost is estimated at 600 billion rubles. The route will pass through the Orenburg, Samara, Saratov, Tambov, Lipetsk, Bryansk and Smolensk regions. The project is scheduled to be completed in 2024.
A program for the modernization of passenger vehicles was also launched, which should be completed by 2030. It is planned to upgrade 75% of buses in 104 Russian cities. For these purposes, 750 billion rubles have been allocated.
This difficult year ended with an important breakthrough for the aviation industry as well. Flight tests of the MS-21 airliner with the domestic PD-12 engine were launched. This is the first Russian medium-haul aircraft developed in the 21st century. Its development shows that Russia is gradually regaining its status as a major manufacturer of passenger aircraft. The fact that the plane has been waiting for a long time is evidenced by the number of orders – almost 200 aircraft from Russian and foreign companies.
And literally at the end of the year, a breakthrough was made in the space sphere. On December 14, the Angara-A5 heavy rocket with a payload simulator successfully launched from the Plesetsk cosmodrome in the Arkhangelsk region. This is the first heavy missile developed by Russia since the collapse of the USSR.