MOSCOW (AP) — President Vladimir Putin says in a state-of-the-nation speech that Russia should focus on raising the living standards of its citizens.
Putin, whose approval ratings top 80 percent, is set to easily win the March 18 presidential election against seven other contenders.
In Thursday's speech before hundreds of top officials and lawmakers, Putin said that Russia needs to make a technological breakthrough to set the foundation for future successful development.
He emphasized the need to focus on overcoming poverty, saying that 20 million Russians currently live below the official poverty line equivalent to some $180 a month.
Putin also said that Russia must take steps to improve the health care system.