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Meeting with Murmansk Region Governor Andrei Chibis

April 18, 2024, Novo-Ogaryovo, Moscow Region

Vladimir Putin held a working meeting with Murmansk Region Governor Andrei Chibis, via videoconference.

To begin with, the President asked Andrei Chibis how he felt (on April 4, the Murmansk Region Governor was wounded in an attack by an armed criminal during his meeting with local residents in the city of Apatity). Mr Chibis replied that he was recovering and started working. He said he would like to report on his performance as the Governor of the region in the past five years.

The Governor said that in the past year the region achieved a migration growth for the first time in 33 years. In addition, the population decline rates in 2023 decreased by almost seven times as compared to 2019, while the natural population loss went down by half. Also last year, the first-birth rate grew for the first time since 2009. The number of families with many children keeps growing. There are 9.500 such families in the region. Their number went up by 40 percent since 2017.

The Governor considers important in this respect the implementation of infrastructure economic projects, which leads to the growth of the domestic regional product and the scale of investment. The Murmansk Region is the leader in the investment made in the Arctic zone and in the number of its residents. Importantly, the amount of investment in projects for the next ten years exceeds 3 trillion rubles. Last year, the region launched the Heading North project, under which the region primarily attracts the necessary specialists, teachers and healthcare workers by resolving all their household issues.

Speaking about the main infrastructure investment projects, Mr Chibis mentioned the Murmansk Transport Hub and the construction of the new Lavna Port in cooperation with Belarusian partners under the President’s instruction. In August, the port will be ready to go into operation.

Replying to the President’s question about a possibility of building a transshipment facility for the needs of Belarus, Andrei Chibis reported that a plot of land for this port had already been chosen and the Belarusians had registered a legal entity on the territory of the Murmansk Region.

The Governor also said that he needs the President’s instruction for the adoption of all necessary decisions for the emerging Transport national project and the emerging investment programme of the Russian Railways to increase the carrying capacity for the ports of the Murmansk Region. The instruction is required because the carrying capacity of the railways will be 45 million tonnes by the end of this year. However, the required capacity by 2030 will be 110 million tonnes, taking into account the projects that are already underway and new ones, including the Belarusian project, that will be launched.

Gas infrastructure development was discussed as well. The Governor asked the President to support him in matters of gas prices for end consumers in order to streamline the household utility bills and to clearly structure the investment projects covering the production facilities that process the raw materials produced in the Murmansk Region.

Andrei Chibis touched upon lithium which is another strategic project. He said that geological prospecting at lithium deposits revealed that Russia may be one of the top three countries with the largest lithium reserves, because the reserves on the Kola Peninsula turned out to be larger than previously thought. Infrastructure – power grids and a road – needs to be built in order to get this project underway. This is another global point of growth for the region, and a source of strategic metal for the country’s economy.

The Governor said supporting the participants of the special military operation and their families was a critically important area of focus. He said all issues they may face get promptly addressed without waiting for formal decisions to be taken.

Mr Chibis also made a request, which is particularly important for the Arctic given the condition of the social buildings and the fact that more funds need to be invested in the Arctic zone in order to retain existing residents and to bring in new people who will work on the projects at hand. He asked the President to issue an instruction to put the Arctic territories on the same priority list as the Far Eastern territories when it comes to drafting new national projects, emphasising that this request is shared by all Arctic governors.

The President said the details of this proposal need to be finalised before the Government would discuss it.

The unique projects that are being implemented in the region and can be replicated in other regions were mentioned as well. They include a programme of free vitaminisation for the people residing in the Far North, which is a very sensitive issue, the Arctic School programme, and a network of youth spaces, free for the young people to practice sports and engage in other activities in a comfortable environment, which is an important consideration for the Arctic climate.

In closing, Andrei Chibis said that gubernatorial elections would be held in the Murmansk Region in September and that with the support of the President and, of course, the support of the people, he was ready to continue to work on implementing the decisions seeking to move forward the Murmansk Region as Russia’s outpost in the Arctic.

The President noted that the work in the region was going on as scheduled, and that Governor Chibis’ activities would bring about the results that everyone needs and, most importantly, they would serve the cause of improving living conditions in the North, in particular, the Murmansk Region. The President suggested going deeper into the challenges facing the region, and said that he had practically finished working on the documents that the Governor had sent to him, the Government, and the Presidential Executive Office, and the necessary decisions would be made, and wished Governor Chibis success in his work.

April 18, 2024, Novo-Ogaryovo, Moscow Region