Vladimir Putin has come out for setting up a separate structure to tackle the entire complex of problems concerning relations with ethnic Russians living abroad. Speaking at the congress of compatriots currently held in Moscow, President Putin voiced some critical remarks regarding the government commission dealing with ethnic Russians. Putin said that the work of the commission was not quite effective. On the whole, however, the President noted that in the past ten years "the state has made impermissibly little headway as regards working with compatriots living outside Russia." In this connection, the President said that it would be necessary to set up a single structure to deal with the entire complex of problems of the relations with compatriots living abroad. Putin also noted that the development of a "common cultural and information space that has been restricted for objective reasons could be an important instrument for moulding mutual relations with ethnic Russians. President Putin stressed that it was necessary to react to the closure of Russian-language newspapers and Russian schools abroad. He spoke for the development of electronic communications with ethnic Russians and the distribution of Russian-language literature and manuals.
The choice of the city of Helsinki is not incidental as the capital of Finland had hosted US-Soviet negotiations on the limitation of nuclear stockpiles in 1969