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Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke Feb. 20 to the fourth annual forum Strong Ideas for a New Time, hosted by the autonomous non-profit organization Agency for Strategic Initiatives to Promote New Projects (ASI), which the Kremlin site describes as an event “used to gather socially important initiatives and projects submitted by concerned citizens from across the country.” This year they received 30,731 submissions in seven areas of focus.

Putin said this meeting was particularly important, coming as it does right before his much-awaited annual address to the Federation Assembly, which the Kremlin just announced would occur on Feb. 29. He said “new ideas for a new time are especially needed today. Why? Because today—I’m sure everyone will agree with me—we are living through special times, and these new times mean that we are moving to a totally different level of challenges we face and meeting these challenges allows us to take the country to a new level of its development.”

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