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Meeting with Government members

November 22, 2023, The Kremlin, Moscow

Vladimir Putin held a videoconference meeting with Government members.

During the meeting on developing international shipping, a number of current issues were also discussed.

Emergencies Minister Alexander Kurenkov informed the meeting participants about the evacuation of Russian nationals from the Gaza Strip and the deliveries of humanitarian aid to the region.

Minister of Economic Development Maxim Reshetnikov spoke about the development of Russian trade brands, as well as the beginning of the winter tourist season. ASI General Director Svetlana Chupsheva, Transport Minister Vitaly Savelyev and Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko also commented on these topics.

In addition, Transport Minister Vitaly Savelyev presented a report on the results of the navigation season on Russian rivers, and Deputy Prime Minister and Head of Staff of the Government Executive Office Dmitry Grigorenko reported on the progress of the reform of oversight activities.

* * *

Excerpts from the transcript of the meeting with Government members

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues.

Our keynote speaker today, Mr Belousov, will talk about the development of shipping. This is a very big and important issue, and we will focus on it.

But at the outset, we will consider a few operational issues as usual. One of them has to do with the official visit by the President of Tajikistan to Russia, which has just ended. We discussed a number of issues on the bilateral agenda. I would like to thank all my colleagues from the Government who were involved in the preparation of this visit and drafting the relevant documents. The visit was very well organised and produced a good result.

One of the issues we discussed had to do with ensuring common security. And I would like to briefly mention one of the aspects, especially because tomorrow in Minsk, I will meet with our colleagues from the CSTO (the Collective Security Treaty Organisation).

So, one of the issues [we discussed] had to do with establishing a single joint air defence system of the CSTO countries. We have already done a lot of work in this regard. As for Tajikistan, the question the President of Tajikistan raised yesterday as well as during the working breakfast today concerns what we have been doing in this area. We have already delivered two battalions of our S300 air defence systems to Tajikistan. That is eight launchers.

In general, we are ready to work, to continue and complete this work as part of the CSTO. But I would like to remind you that the Government must issue a corresponding directive by the end of this year. In the morning, the Minister reported on the progress of the work. It is a technical issue, but I ask you not to lose sight of it and carry it through.

Next, I would like to ask Mr Kurenkov to tell us about the work on the evacuation of Russians from the Gaza Strip and the delivery of humanitarian aid to the area. The situation there has long since reached the critical point. I think 900 people have asked us to get them out of there. That includes 639 Russian citizens and another 271, their family members.

Mr Kurenkov, how is this work going?

Minister for Civil Defence, Emergencies and Natural Disaster Relief Alexander Kurenkov: Mr President,

In pursuance of your instructions, the Emergencies Ministry, as well as the Foreign Ministry, the Federal Security Service, the Interior Ministry, the Healthcare Ministry and other relevant federal executive agencies, have organised the work to evacuate Russian citizens from the Gaza Strip.

To this end, on November 3, the Ministry sent its task force to Egypt in cooperation with representatives of the Russian Foreign Ministry. They meet Russian citizens at the Rafah checkpoint and assist them in passing through customs. After crossing the border, people are taken by buses to a hotel in Cairo, where they wait for their flights to the Russian Federation.

An interdepartmental response centre has been set up at Domodedovo Airport, where arriving citizens are provided with basic necessities, warm clothes, water, and hot meals. We are being aided by the Government of the Moscow Region and volunteer organisations. People receive information support and assistance in replacing their lost documents. Doctors and psychologists work with them throughout the evacuation process.

Mr President, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry, 910 people have asked for help in evacuating, including 639 Russian citizens and 271 Palestinians who are their family members. The Russian Emergencies Ministry aviation division has received no evacuation applications from citizens of other states.

To date, 484 citizens of the Russian Federation and 87 non-Russian citizens who are their family members have crossed the Rafah checkpoint.

Six Emergencies Ministry flights have transported 553 people, including 259 children, to Domodedovo Airport, while 18 people are still in a hotel in Cairo, waiting to be evacuated. Upon arrival in Russia, nine people, including six children, were sent to medical institutions. Two of them, including one child, were diagnosed with COVID.

After completing all the necessary procedures, 116 people, including 44 children, left the airport to reach their places of residence on their own. The rest were taken to temporary accommodation centres in the Moscow and Kaluga regions. Work is underway to arrange accommodation for these people in other regions of Russia. To date, there are 313 people staying in these centres, including 161 children.

For those who want to travel to other regions of Russia to establish residence there, railway tickets are being issued as soon as possible. In total, since the beginning of evacuation, 116 people, including 48 children, have been sent to 16 regions of Russia.

Alongside evacuations, Emergencies Ministry aviation is delivering humanitarian aid to the population of the Gaza Strip. Over 245 tonnes of cargo from Rosreserve (Federal Agency for State Reserves) and relief collected by the regions were delivered to El Arish in just ten flights. One more flight with 28 tonnes of humanitarian aid is scheduled for November 23.

Mr President, the evacuation of citizens of the Russian Federation and delivery of humanitarian aid have been organised and are under our special control. We promptly resolve problems in the regular course of work.

This concludes my report.

Vladimir Putin: Mr Kurenkov, is our humanitarian aid passing through the state border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip? Does it eventually reach consumers?

Alexander Kurenkov: Yes, Mr President, it reaches its destination. It is assembled in El Arish, a military airfield 40 km away from the Rafah checkpoint. The Egyptian authorities decided that all humanitarian aid is assembled at this airfield. Then convoys are formed and move in a 40-km march when it is allowed and when there is an opportunity.

Vladimir Putin: So, our humanitarian assistance is going to Gaza, right?

Alexander Kurenkov: Yes, Mr President, it is going there, accompanied by the same groups that are at the Rafah checkpoint. We are watching them pass.

Vladimir Putin: All right. Do you need any additional support from the Government?

Alexander Kurenkov: Mr President, everything is proceeding in due course. We are clear on everything and we are doing our job. We will ask you for help as soon as we need it.

Vladimir Putin: Ok. Thank you. This is a very important humanitarian, noble mission. It is necessary to help people that are suffering in the current circumstances. We see what is happening there, and so it is our sacred duty to help these people, especially our citizens.

Thank you.

Let us move on to the current issues, one of which is the support for Russian brands. In the past year, there has been a record number of new Russian brands, while the share of foreign brands is decreasing.

Mr Reshetnikov, how is this work progressing? What support does the Government provide to our entrepreneurs?

Minister of Economic Development Maxim Reshetnikov: Mr President, colleagues,

Indeed, the Russian economy continues to show growth. According to a preliminary estimate from the Federal Service for State Statistics, GDP grew by 5.5 percent in the third quarter year on year. In comparable prices, retail trade grew by 11 percent during the same period, because this growth is driven by domestic demand.

At the core of this growth is consumer activity, supported by the growing production. Our companies have developed enough competencies to replace the products of their Western counterparts and boost their own manufacturing capabilities. To fill the vacant niches, they need to create, promote and protect their own brands, which is what they are doing.

Currently, there are 860,000 trademarks registered with the Federal Service for Intellectual Property. As you mentioned, Russian companies and individuals own more than half of them, specifically 490,000. In the past 18 months, the number of trademarks owned by Russian companies has increased by over 33 percent.

This year, 85 percent of the applications submitted to the Federal Service for Intellectual Property were from Russian companies. The most active companies are those with trademarks related to clothing and shoes, software, pharmaceuticals, household chemicals, perfume and cosmetics, pastry and baked goods.

At the same time, data from the Federal Accreditation Service confirms that an increasing number of Russian trademarks is associated with an increase in output. This year, there are 2,000 more certified goods from Russian manufacturers, which is an 18-percent growth.

This includes consumer goods industry: the number of producers has increased by 80 percent, with a 50 percent increase in goods for children and teenagers, a 20 percent growth in children’s toys, and a 30 percent increase in furniture. These figures include companies that postponed the certification of their goods and completed it this year, along with new manufacturers. Therefore, it is not solely about brands, as sometimes brand owners may place manufacturing in other countries; the crucial aspect is that these goods are made in Russia.

In order to preserve the positive trend, the Government has expanded the list of instruments to support trademarks. Starting this year, any citizen will be able to register a trademark whereas before, only companies and individual entrepreneurs could. Now we have self-employed people who supply products to marketplaces and it is of great use to them.

(Next, the Minister spoke about the process of trademark registration, as well as a new type of intellectual property, geographical indication. Rospatent has already registered more than 320 regional brands, such as Tula Gingerbread, Vologda Lace, Orenburg Downy Scarf, Krasnodar Tea, and Dymkovo Toy.)

According to the tax service, after 2022, the volume of intangible assets on the balance sheet of Russian companies, including trademarks, amounted to almost 15 trillion rubles. Growth over the past year was 60 percent.

We are helping Russian regional brands enter foreign markets. In order to achieve this, we have carried out some work and joined international agreements, such as the Lisbon Agreement, and now it is possible to register our regional brands in several jurisdictions with one application. The first such application, for international registration, came from the Gzhel association in the Moscow Region.

And, of course, identifying and promoting the best brands is a separate vector of work.

We also promote advertising and marketing courses, including courses on brand registration, on our platforms. Next year, we will include brands from the new regions in this work. We also understand, that this is a separate task involving integration into a common space.

The initiative of our colleagues from the Agency for Strategic Initiatives deserves special attention and support. Last year they started holding a competition for the best brands and identifying the most interesting, original, vibrant examples.

Therefore, Mr President, we will continue to keep this issue under review. Indeed, we consider regional brands as a way for Russian manufacturers to gain a foothold in our market, including for the long term.

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: Ms Chupsheva, the Agency for Strategic Initiatives is planning to hold a competition of Russian brands. What is it? How will you organise this competition? How will the brands compete with each other? What is it all about?

Director General of the Agency for Strategic Initiatives to Promote New Projects Svetlana Chupsheva: Mr President, colleagues,

Mr President, this year you visited an exhibition for the development of creative industries and the creative economy, and you met with representatives of companies manufacturing Russian brands. The companies unveiled a wide range of products, including state-of-the-art technologies, IT products, foodstuffs, fashionable clothes, jewellery and children's toys. At that time, we decided to hold a competition of Russian brands, and you supported this initiative.

This year, we teamed up with Roscongress and VEB.RF and held the first competition of Russian brands to see which regions have strong teams and which directions are represented. We discussed the share of the Russian market that has become vacant after foreign companies departed from the country, but some remained. However, this presents tremendous opportunities for our Russian entrepreneurs, for Russian brands that can take up a domestic market niche, compete and export their products to foreign markets.

The contest proved highly popular. We received 5,000 applications from all Russian regions, and the Agency for Strategic Initiatives, organisers and our partners supported 1,250 brands. We have over 40 partners, including major companies, marketplaces, retail chains, development institutions and our federal communications channels that have instituted their own prizes and measures to support the winners.

The competition became a new stage in the development of Russian brands. In the past ten months, the winners have boosted their earnings by over 50 percent, and some companies are seeing a 100 percent increase after the competition and after they started dealing with a broader audience.

(Svetlana Chupsheva went on to present the competition's results in detail and discuss the success stories of companies involved in the competition. She also spoke about the Agency's efforts to support and promote Russian brands.)

Mr President, we will continue this work as per your instruction, and we will start accepting applications for the second competition of Russian brands tomorrow. We are planning to sum up the results in late February.

The requirements for contestants remain the same: Russian small and medium-sized businesses that have higher earnings than in the previous period can take part.

Under this project, we have also started drafting a strategy to promote Russian brands, and we would like to submit it to you at a meeting with winners of the new competition of Russian brands.

Vladimir Putin: Good.

I wish all contestants every success.

Mr Reshetnikov, the winter tourist season is starting, which includes the ski season, but there is still a real lack of hotel rooms. Of course, this will impact retail prices. What are we planning? What does the Government plan to do? Of course, we have large support programmes for domestic tourism, but still, this is a problem.

Minister of Economic Development Maxim Reshetnikov: Mr President, colleagues.

It is true that demand for domestic tourism is growing. The number of tourist trips in the first nine months of 2023 is almost 18 percent higher than over the same period last year.

The overall area of travel is expanding, too; people are travelling to the North Caucasus, to the Altai, the Baikal, and Karelia more often. These regions have seen increasing numbers of tourist trips, by as much as 150 percent. The Far East and Kaliningrad, about a third more.

At the same time, growth will continue this winter. We forecast 30 million tourist trips from November to March, up 7 percent from last year. And of course, in addition to our traditional leading destinations, the larger cities, the biggest increase in tourism will be seen in the North Caucasus, Altai, the Urals, Sakhalin, Kaliningrad, Krasnoyarsk Territory, the Murmansk Region, and the Baikal territories, that is, this is where we see growth even now.

At the same time, the tourism industry, transport, and the responsible services and departments are preparing to meet this increased demand for travel.

(Next, Mr Reshetnikov spoke about seasonal transport schedules, efforts to ensure affordability, preparations for New Year’s festivals and other public events, ensuring safety at these events, and the development of infrastructure at ski resorts. As for the shortage of hotels, partly due to increased demand, the Minister said that since the beginning of the year, 122,000 rooms are listed in the register of qualified hotels and rooms, which is 16 percent more than last year. According to Rosstat, in the nine months of this year, 10,000 new rooms have been introduced, an increase of about 40 percent. He said this was the result of the national project, which was launched two years ago, and the first hotels with national project support are already being opened.)

Mr President, to summarise, the tourism industry is ready for the winter season. The regions, businesses, federal departments, and the supervisory authorities know what their areas of responsibility are. On behalf of Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko, who regularly monitors the situation, we will monitor all issues as part of the work of the tourism headquarters.

(At the President’s request, the subject of tourism was commented on by Minister of Transport Vitaly Savelyev and Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko.)

Vladimir Putin: Mr Savelyev, freight traffic on our inland waterways has nevertheless decreased. What is the reason? There has been a small decrease, five percent, if I am not mistaken, but still.

Vitaly Savelyev: Mr President, colleagues,

Inland water transport is part of the Russian transport system, the balanced development of which is outlined in Russia's Transport Strategy until 2030 with a forecast until 2035.

Inland waterways located in the European part of Russia form the so-called single deep-water system connecting the White, Baltic, Caspian, Azov and Black Seas. The total length of the single deep-water system is 6,500 kilometres. Over the first 10 months of this year, more than 100 million tonnes of cargo have already been transported by inland water transport. As you correctly noted, this is a little less, by about 5 percent, than the 2022 figure. A significant decrease in shipping volume was due to the sanctions imposed by unfriendly countries limiting the sale of forest materials and their byproducts on foreign markets.

In accordance with the orders of regions in the Russian Arctic zone, Rosmorrechflot (Federal Agency for Sea and Inland Water Transport) of the Transport Ministry ensured the delivery of the cargo making up the 2023 Northern supply haul along inland waterways in full. In fact, more than 1.6 million tonnes of cargo were delivered to consumers. Over 10 million passengers were transported on inland waterways, which is almost 16 percent more than in 2022. Passenger transportation especially increased in the Volga basin by 15 percent compared to the previous year, and in the Moscow basin by 11 percent compared to the previous year. During the 2023 navigation season on Lake Baikal, passenger transportation amounted to 390,000 people, which is 12 percent more than during the 2022 navigation season.

The main passenger traffic occurs during the navigation period of 163 days on Lake Baikal. A guaranteed navigation depth of 5 metres has been set for the shipping routes on Lake Baikal.

According to the register of the Russian Classification Society, about 315 vessels are registered on Lake Baikal. Three electric-powered hybrid cruise ships are being built for tours on Lake Baikal. Each ship will perform at least 18 cruises lasting 6–7 days.

That said, I have to note that there is insufficient cruise transportation on Lake Baikal. The reason is the poor technical condition of the harbor walls and their small number. In order to develop cruise navigation on Lake Baikal, the Republic of Buryatia and the Irkutsk Region should bring the relevant infrastructure into proper working order.

In order to ensure navigation safety, route and navigation hydrographic survey projects are being carried out. This year, 100 percent of the dredging work was completed; this was about 20 million cubic metres. More than 80 dredgers were used to carry out dredging work on a total length of more than 800 kilometres.

In order to develop transportation along the International North-South Transport Corridor and ensure the passage of ships with a draft of 4.5 metres minimum through the Volga-Caspian Shipping Canal, a total length of 188 kilometres was dredged which, by the way, is the largest dredging project in the entire history of this waterway. The volume of excavated soil amounted to a record of more than 10 million cubic metres, which is twice as much as last year and three times more than 2021.

There are 741 navigable locks and other water structures on the inland waterways of the Russian Federation. They are designed to pass ships, provide design navigation levels, and provide engineering protection for the adjacent territories. This year, construction and installation work for major repairs is being carried out on 24 inland waterway facilities and on 87 vessels in the technical fleet.

Mr President, the development of freight and passenger transport along the inland waterways is currently a high priority. The instructions you gave on June 20 following the meeting on the development of river navigation, to develop freight and passenger transport on inland waterways, and develop the river ports and berth infrastructure, are being and certainly will be implemented.

Thank you for attention. My report is finished.

Vladimir Putin: As for the Volga, the major work has been carried out, but there is still a lot to do. There are still sections that need special attention; please do not forget that all the plans there must also be fulfilled.

As for Baikal, I would like to ask you to work with the regions and report separately, and support them if necessary. Thank you.


November 22, 2023, The Kremlin, Moscow