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On support to talented youth (TASS interview)

March 5, 2020

The ninth part of Vladimir Putin's interview to TASS News Agency has been published.

The 20 Questions with Vladimir Putin project is an interview with the President of Russia on the most topical subjects of social and political life in Russia and the world. Total recording time is 3.5 hours.

Andrei Vandenko: All paths are open to our young people, one would like to believe.

Vladimir Putin: I hope so.

Andrei Vandenko: Have you heard this meme: ”How do you like it, Elon Musk?“

Vladimir Putin: No, I have not.

Andrei Vandenko: But have you heard about Elon Musk?

Vladimir Putin: Yes, of course.

Andrei Vandenko: He is launching a Tesla, while Rogozin is creating an elevator to the moon.

Vladimir Putin: An elevator to the moon? And so?

Andrei Vandenko: They are in different leagues.

Vladimir Putin: I can give you different examples. A group of young people from a graduating class showed up. This whole group of people came.

Andrei Vandenko: Where?

Vladimir Putin: To one of our institutes and created the Iskander. This group of young people from a graduating class showed up and in a few years, they created the Iskander. One of our cutting-edge weapons that we are proud of. The best in the world.

Young people showed up and created the Peresvet. This is an example from the defense industry. But they did it.

Andrei Vandenko: So, let them create a Tesla-like passenger car.

Vladimir Putin: Prokhorov said he would make…

Andrei Vandenko: An airplane.

Vladimir Putin: He did not succeed yet.

Andrei Vandenko: Ah, yes, the Yo-mobile.

Vladimir Putin: He promised; he showed it to me. I even went for a ride in it. But it has not been working for him so far.

In the high-tech field and in the nuclear sphere we have been making great strides. We have outperformed everyone; we are the world's largest manufacturer of nuclear units for power plants. Not weapons, mind you. This is state-of-the-art technology. It is developing very rapidly.

If we look at military equipment, say military aviation, we are really on top here. We will continue moving forward in the civilian sector as well. We already have our own pharmaceutical products, very good ones. And so on. Gradually, it is gaining momentum.

Andrei Vandenko: I meant something different.

Vladimir Putin: What?

Andrei Vandenko: When I mentioned Musk. He is not exactly an idol, but some sort of a role model.

Vladimir Putin: Fine, but…

Andrei Vandenko: Whom can we offer as an alternative, not an American…?

Vladimir Putin: We have Kaspersky. I believe he is really good at what he does. He is a leader, without a doubt.

If the screws had not been tightened, if competition had not been artificially stifled, it would have been much better. This is what comes to mind right away.

Andrei Vandenko: How do you feel about the fact that according to one of the opinion polls half of the young people want to leave the country?

Vladimir Putin: There are all sorts of opinion polls. And target groups can also differ. Some want to leave, others want to return. As I have already said, the latter’s numbers are on the rise.

Certainly, if we want our people to fulfill their ambitions in their own country, the state must boost its efforts to ensure this. And we will do so.

I think that the number of good specialists is steadily growing and the fact that our specialists find employment in the global labor market means that we provide a good higher education.

Andrei Vandenko: Does the Leaders of Russia contest live up to your expectations?

Vladimir Putin: Yes, of course. They are really great guys. However, not only do we have the Leaders of Russia contest, there is also Russia – Land of Opportunity, with a whole set of mechanisms that seem to be working very efficiently.

Andrei Vandenko: And what do you think the criterion is? Is it the number of public appointees or the number of proposals coming from…?

Vladimir Putin: Among the contests I mentioned, we do not have a single contest for a specific job or office.

We simply allow people to expand their knowledge and capabilities even more, yet simultaneously, when working with these people, representatives of major corporations or ministries and agencies pick out future employees.

Actually, by doing so we have already found ministers, deputy ministers and even governors and deputy governors. This is a very good social elevator.

Andrei Vandenko: The Sirius project also represents such a new experience. I mean the Sirius center.

Vladimir Putin: Sirius is a little different.

Andrei Vandenko: Of course. It applies to young people, I mean.

Vladimir Putin: Absolutely, but this is a method of working with gifted children. We have never had… Well, we did.

Andrei Vandenko: In Soviet times?

Vladimir Putin: Yes, we did… Actually, when I was deciding to create Sirius I… By the way, do you know how this idea emerged?

Andrei Vandenko: No, I do not.

Vladimir Putin: Olympic facilities in the Imereti Valley. Suggestions immediately started coming in to dismantle something and relocate it somewhere. But dismantling and relocating would cost us about the same as constructing something new. It would be better to change the location, and finally I decided to build something new in some other place.

But how do we make use of what is available? At first, a simple, even primitive, thought entered my mind: to use these facilities for children's sports. But later I thought, why just for sports? We inherited a system of advanced education and training from the USSR. I mean physics and mathematics schools, biology schools, then music colleges at conservatories, ballet schools. We are proud of all this.

And, of course, sports, that is figure skating, our prestigious sports where we have good capabilities and where we have been successful, and hockey. So, I came up with an idea of putting this together.

Andrei Vandenko: Do you mean the original idea was yours?

Vladimir Putin: Yes, yes, I came up with it.

A colleague of mine who was invited there said to one of his colleagues, ”He is not going to succeed“. When asked why, he said, “To begin with, your hockey players will beat up the math whiz kids.”

Yet, nothing of the kind has occurred there. Because kids, even powerful athletic lads, respect their peers who achieve noticeable success in their fields because they know that this requires great effort and talent.

So, Sirius… By the way, I was the one who came up with the name as well. I was sitting and thinking about a name and suddenly I recalled that the brightest star in the sky is Sirius.

It brings together the brightest kids. That is why I proposed this name. And the name stuck.

Andrei Vandenko: It could not have been otherwise

Vladimir Putin: But why?

Andrei Vandenko: Putin said so.

Vladimir Putin: Anything can happen.

Here, we use the system of selecting gifted kids established back in the Soviet Union. I mean these physics and mathematics schools, biology schools, music schools and so on.

From these schools, every 21 days we pick a group of kids for Sirius and arrange 21‑day training courses for them. Then we pick out those with the best potential. It turned out to be a very good idea.

Moreover, do you know what is interesting and what I especially like about this? Here, we see athletes communicating with math geniuses while math geniuses may go to see a hockey match or ballet performance for the first time. Thus, they get involved in physical fitness. This is really great. I like this very much.

The next step should be to create a modern university. We have already set up a scientific cluster of laboratories there specializing in such priority fields. There are several of them, four, I believe.

Then we intend to create a technology park there consisting of a school, a university, and a scientific laboratory, and the techno park where innovations can materialize. We will link the whole process.

March 5, 2020