On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin is giving his key annual address to both chambers of the national parliament. He is reporting on his government’s work and outlining the agenda for the upcoming years.
It is the 10th time Putin has addressed the Federal Assembly, as the Russian legislature is officially called.
09:12 GMT: The president closes by thanking the members of the assembly for their efforts.
09:10 GMT: An achievement is acknowledged: the completion of housing for all defense personnel for the first time in history.
09:05 GMT: The missile defense issue is broached. Putin says while the word 'defense' is prominent here, the offensive threat cannot be minimized. Defense spending is paramount in terms of protecting Russia's borders. Reservist forces are proposed, with the opportunity to work and serve simultaneously. A total of 23 trillion rubles will be spent on the defense industry in the next decade.
09:03 GMT: By June 1, 2014, the draft text of the Customs Union between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan will be presented to the respective parliaments. Ukraine has expressed willingness to attend all sessions as an observer.
09:00 GMT: More progressive approaches to the development of society have resulted in bloodshed, as witnessed in Africa and Syria, for example. Russia has strongly contributed to the success of averting military intervention in Syria. In terms of Iran, we need to continue to seek peaceful cooperation on the nuclear issue.
08:57 GMT: Despite maintaining a regional leadership role, Russia has no aspirations to hegemony, Putin says. The country is a multi-ethnic, diverse and tolerant nation.
08:53 GMT: The PM must take personal responsibility for tax reform measures aimed at fostering innovation and industry, including in the Far East.
08:48 GMT: Half Russian investments were conducted offshore last year. We need to reclaim this money, and a system must be implemented in order to collect taxes from such a substantial sum. Penalties for falsified financial information need to be applied effectively.
08:43 GMT: Illegal immigration is in the spotlight, with the president concerned about the economic impact of such people, in terms of taxation and the employment of local citizens.
08:40 GMT: Putin advocates making rural areas more accessible and more habitable. Agriculture reform is essential. So-called 'mono cities', where only one industry supports an entire community, need to be addressed, providing more and broader opportunities for citizens. This will help in the event of any particular industry's collapse, and foster new benefits for those who live in such places.
08:35 GMT: Restoring vocational training and fostering internships in order to develop skills are priorities. The entire higher education system needs to be upgraded in order to produce graduates competent for the modern workplace.
08:29 GMT: The main reasons for a slowdown in economic growth are internal, not external. We must establish more stability and a good investment climate. Innovation must be a starting point for this. Only one in six research projects becomes copyrightable. In Russia, only 1 percent of products is protected by copyright - far behind other developed nations.
08:26 GMT: No less than 25 million square meters of appropriate housing for middle class families must be built. A new project is to be implemented to achieve this goal. Land parcels and infrastructure must be provided.
08:24 GMT: For the first time since 1991, a natural increase in population has been observed. This announcement received great applause.
08:23 GMT: Next year will be the Year of Russian Culture. As part of this, education should be a focus in order to maintain the rich tradition of Russian academia. Again, technology must be considered a part of this. Regional authorities urged to assume responsibility for this.
08:20 GMT: Putin lauds improvements in healthcare, including in life expectancy. However, more attention should be paid to reforms in this area, including in educating young people on their responsibilities to look after their own health. Technology should also be embraced. Captains of industry urged to apply themselves to this task.
08:17 GMT: Cost-cutting for Federal Institutions needs to be implemented, along with measurements of efficiency - a task allocated to regional administrations.
08:10 GMT:Recapping his 'action plan' outlined
in his election platform of May 2012, Putin suggests that
strategies need to be revised. "We need to refocus our
priorities" to account for a dynamic economic
08:04 GMT: The President begins by examining the Constitution's 20th anniversary. He discusses possible reforms to the judicial system and regional governance.
08:00 GMT: Putin starts his address to the Russian parliament. RT is covering the event live.