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  Wednesday, October 21, 2020
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Foreign policy and Russia's demographic situation will be the central themes of President Vladimir Putin's seventh state of the nation address on Wednesday
Foreign policy and Russia's demographic situation will be the central themes of President Vladimir Putin's seventh state of the nation address on Wednesday, a Kremlin source said. With Russia holding the rotating presidency of the Group of Eight industrialized nations this year, the Russian leader is expected to focus more on foreign policy issues than in the domestic-agenda speeches of 2005 and 2004, though the source did suggest that the president would expand on the ideas of previous years. "This year's address will represent a kind of trilogy [with the previous years']," the source said. "Most of it will be dedicated to foreign policy and so the president's political line will be formed completely." The source said Putin might respond to critical remarks made by U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney last week, when he suggested Russia was undermining the territorial integrity of its neighbors. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has already branded the claims a "profanation" given that Russian troops laid down their lives ending conflicts that erupted in the aftermath of the Soviet Union's collapse. Some Russian politicians have also said they would like to hear the president talk about the crisis around Iran's controversial nuclear programs. With Russia's population declining by 680,000 last year, Putin is also expected to highlight the demographic crisis in his one-hour speech. According to some estimates, the country's 142 million people could already become 100 million by 2030. "The president has already brought up this problem in last year's address, but has now decided to return to it, as, in his opinion, it is currently one of the most important problems he had mentioned in his speeches," the source said. Russia is pursuing a national project on healthcare as part of efforts to improve the nation's well-being and Putin may bring up the scheme, as well as it counterparts three other areas, during his address, the source said. The Kremlin representative also said that work had been carried out on the text up until the last minute, though he refused to rule out that the president could add some details during the speech to both houses of parliament. "The text of the address will only become final after the president has finished his speech, as Vladimir Putin could make changes to it as he speaks," the source said. The address will begin at 12:00 p.m. local times (12:00 a.m. GMT) and will be broadcast on Russia's two main television channels and radio stations, while overseas listeners will be able to hear it on the Voice of Russia station.
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