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Meeting with young nuclear scientists

September 8, 2023, Sarov

In Sarov, Vladimir Putin met with young scientists and specialists from the Russian Federal Nuclear Centre – All-Russian Scientific Research Institute of Experimental Physics.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good evening, friends.

About nine years ago, I believe, I met here with the employees of our leading nuclear centre. It is a large team. In fact, the country’s largest scientific and technological centre with 20,000 employees.

Exactly nine years ago (addressing Rosatom Director General Alexei Likhachev), I think, in February, right, Mr Likhachev? September? Yes, we met here in September 2014. I hope someone, maybe even someone who attended that meeting is here with us today? I am very pleased.

First, I would like to thank you, your colleagues, and the management for the contribution your centre is making to promote science, to strengthen the defence of our country, the nuclear shield of our country, and to expand many sectors of the economy. I hope this will continue in the same vein. Moreover, we will even increase the pace.

Notably, when we talked in 2014, our ill-wishers were just taking their first steps as they tried to limit our technological sovereignty and obstruct our development. Back then, we talked about the need to take vigorous steps to ensure our technological sovereignty.

I must say that, first, our predictions have come true; everything happened just as we said it would. They provoked the conflict in Ukraine and used it to their advantage.

I believe all of that was done with a purpose to create additional conditions for limiting our economic growth and restraining Russia's development.

Back then, we began thinking about what we should do to ensure our sovereignty. Much has been achieved, but there is still much to do.

I am aware that Sarov is developing at quite a fast pace. In terms of urban development, it was recognized – Mr Nikitin (addressing Nizhny Novgorod Region Governor Gleb Nikitin), I believe Sarov was recognised as the best city in the region?

Nizhny Novgorod Region Governor Gleb Nikitin: In terms of income level, yes.

Vladimir Putin: No, not just in terms of income.

Gleb Nikitin: In terms of urban environment quality as well.

Vladimir Putin: It ranks first in the Nizhny Novgorod Region in terms of urban environment quality. This is good.

It is mainly young people in this audience. I believe one of the key indicators is that a record number of marriages has been registered here over the last nine to ten years. This is very good. It is truly positive. It is very good, and it shows that people are planning their lives and extending the horizons of their planning. This is a good thing.

We have slightly expanded the free area and created a priority development area here, and in cooperation with the Kurchatov Institute, we built the well-known Physics and Mathematics Centre under a branch of Moscow State University. I hope things are moving fast. Perhaps, you will have more to say about it today.

I think that concludes my quasi-opening remarks, so I will turn it over to you.

Please, no complicated or technical questions. It would be interesting, of course, to hear your assessments of how the industry is developing, how the city is developing, and most importantly, what you think needs to be done additionally to speed up progress and help us move confidently towards our goals.

Please go ahead.

Director General of State Atomic Energy Corporation Rosatom Alexei Likhachev: Mr President, can I add just a bit to your opening remarks?

Vladimir Putin: Please, Mr Likhachev.

Alexei Likhachev: Three generations are present here: 20-year-olds, the students and graduates of MSU branch in Sarov; those who were 20 years old back then, nine years ago and are now young scientists; and current members of the Academy, correspondent members and PhDs. So, all three generations have met here.

Second, if I may remind you about another visit: it was late November 2020, the peak of the pandemic, and there was great uncertainty. However, you decided to create the National Physics and Mathematics Centre and MSU branch in Sarov.

Vladimir Putin: Under pressure from you. (Laughter.)

Alexei Likhachev: We proposed this, and Mr Kostyukov [Director of the Federal Nuclear Centre – Experimental Physics Research Institute] reported on this, and we all supported him.

It must be said that back then, of course, this decision had few supporters. It was the time when everyone was occupied with routine work. But for us, this was part of life, we really needed this.

However, I would like to mention two more people who made this their personal agenda: Viktor Sadovnichy, rector of Moscow State University, and Alexander Sergeyev, president of the Academy of Sciences at the time.

Now it is impossible to imagine Sarov without the National Physics and Mathematics Centre and without the branch, though only two years have passed, and the first graduation will take place this year.

What is important for us? First, the National Physics and Mathematics Centre should become an integral part of Rosatom in this great ladder from the kindergarten up to the work of serious scientific leaders, when people enjoy unlocking their potential and their talents as they climb the career ladder.

Second, the National Physics and Mathematics Centre and the MSU branch in Sarov have made a great part of the federal system. We actively participate in everything that is being done today by the Znaniye Society, the Russia – Land of Opportunity and the Mashuk Centre, we are proud of this, and we make our own contribution. My colleagues will elaborate.

I would like to stress once again that our life would be impossible without this National Physics and Mathematics Centre and the MSU branch, for all of us.

When we were looking to enrol our first students back in 2021, there was nothing here: there was a technopark here, dormitories that were being renovated back then, some were just being planned, and we had to gather the best students. My colleagues and I, we just came to see the students, started talking to them, telling them everything, and, of course, they were not too eager to believe us. There was, I would say, an intractable student among them, a graduate who asked a lot of questions. I promised myself that I will do everything for him to join us. He came and is now sitting at the table here; he is a graduate about to begin postgraduate studies: Maxim Vyalkov. I would like to give him the floor.

Vladimir Putin: Please, Maxim.

Maxim Vyalkov: Good afternoon, Mr President.

I am a graduate of the first cohort of MSU branch in Sarov, as Mr Likhachev introduced me, and I am now applying to a postgraduate programme.

When I was about to complete my studies at the faculty of physics, I learnt that Rosatom was planning to create a new Akademgorodok [academic city]; I was fascinated by the romance of it, the feeling of being a pioneer, what I had previously only read about in books: about our great Soviet scientists from the Novosibirsk Akademgorodok.

It turned out that Rosatom was a dream come true, and when I, so to say, came here to look at what was just starting back at the time – a big story unfolding – I realised that this place was calling to me, and so I came here and I never regretted it. Because when I got here, I found myself in a team, please excuse me, of other rookie students like me, with only a bachelor’s degree, and such personalities as Mr Likhachev, Mr Sadovnichy, Mr Sergeyev.

We were all united by a complex but simple idea: to create a true academic town of the future, something that Russian science can be proud of. This idea made us more than a team – it made us a family.

Mr Sadovnichy paid a lot of attention to us. I would like to specifically note that he sent us medovukha [honey drink] for St Tatyana’s Day. Thank him for that.

Vladimir Putin: Was it good?

Maxim Vyalkov: Very good.

Mr Likhachev welcomed us with cakes – no liquor, but very tasty all the same.

I would like to note separately that in addition to welcoming us with cakes, Mr Likhachev came to visit us almost every month, educated and mentored us, making us, without exaggeration, the Russian elite.

Many, or to be exact, the majority of those who came here came for the sake of science, in order to build the foundation of future Nobel Prizes. Here I take my hat off and want to say a huge thank you to Mr Sergeyev. As president of the Russian Academy of Sciences, he managed to find time to teach a large course on laser physics for us. It was amazing. Separately, I would like to thank Mr Sergeyev for those conversations over a cup of coffee about the fate of Russian science and the Academy of Sciences. It was amazing.

I would like to thank Mr Kostyukov for the fact that the RFNC took unprecedented measures in order to provide us with equipment and truly complex tasks.

The National Physics and Mathematics Centre gave us even more fundamental tasks. There were just 50 of us here. However, the tasks set for us by the Government and humanity, let’s say, require the best of the best. But, as they say, if you are cornered, you can attack in any direction, and we decided to create a student scientific society. Our ambitions matched the ambitions of those who invited us here, and we decided that we should become a point of national interest and began to literally contact all student scientific societies from the Far East to Kaliningrad and Donetsk. And I will say that we succeeded. We propose an interesting agenda, and this year we will present our first joint projects among student scientific societies at the Congress of Young Scientists.

Since we are talking about science, I am here to tell you that I study neutrino physics. Neutrinos are fascinating particles, although you probably know more about them than I do.

Vladimir Putin: No. (Laughter.) That is going too far.

Maxim Vyalkov: Neutrinos pass through us at a rate of 10 to the power of 35, but we do not feel them. And if you ever want to learn more about them and in detail, I am at your service and I can tell you more about them at any time.

But I will be brief now. The really interesting part about neutrinos is that they do not obey the laws that we currently know. Take a standard model – it is like Newton's law in particle physics, and it does not abide by those laws. This means that by studying neutrinos, we can look at our Universe from a different angle and find out how it really works, learn about its underlying principles, how we can use it for the benefit of humanity.

Here, at the National Centre of Physics and Mathematics under the guidance of my scientific supervisor from Moscow State University Alexander Studenikin and my scientific supervisor from the Russian Federal Nuclear Centre Arkady Yukhimchuk, we are implementing a project to study coherent neutrino scattering on atoms and to set a record limit on the magnetic moment. It may sound complicated, but it is incredibly fascinating, and it will bring breakthrough fundamental results to the world and, most importantly, Russia.

As a result, in addition to limits on the magnetic moment and studying the electromagnetic properties of neutrino, we will obtain a whole ‘zoo’ of various low-energy neutrino detectors, which humanity can then use in various fields, including the search for dark matter. If it is not a Nobel Prize right there, it is very close to it.

Mr Mishustin visited us this summer and inspected the construction phases. We want to say that thanks to the family-like atmosphere that we have there, we have been able to achieve a tremendous pace of development in just two years. Well, perhaps my colleagues will disagree, but we are growing very fast.

On behalf of everyone, please do not slow down the pace. We will keep working and studying. But most importantly, we should keep up the pace.

Since our branch is indeed a unique place with a density of academics per square metre off the charts, we believe that we need to establish a special status for the branch so that our development continues without hindrance, and we could focus on innovative and really great things.

Vladimir Putin: What does that mean? What does it mean to establish a special status for it?

Maxim Vyalkov: It means that, for instance, a typical university has a regulatory legal act specifying how many students are in a group and how many professors should be hired. But since the branch is facing unique challenges compared to a typical university, it should be allowed to bring on greater numbers of professors per student because…

Vladimir Putin: I understand, so that limiting it with these standard regulations can be avoided.

Maxim Vyalkov: Yes, exactly.

Vladimir Putin: I agree. We will do that.

Maxim Vyalkov: Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: Let me tell you right away: we will do just that. I cannot see any problems here. All these restrictions are usual, related to financing. However, when it comes to some unique institutions, such as yours, then surely this general Procrustean bed should not extend to you, I understand.

Maxim Vyalkov: Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: I understand.

Where will we look for dark matter – out in the Universe or closer to home?

Maxim Vyalkov: It is everywhere. There is so much of it, there is more of it than visible matter. I hope that cosmology teachers will not later say that I said something wrong, but we will look here.

Vladimir Putin: If we find it, what will we do with it?

Maxim Vyalkov: We will find new riddles, and then we’ll see…

Vladimir Putin: Increase the number.

Maxim Vyalkov: First, I will receive the Nobel Prize, and then…

Vladimir Putin: Ok, agreed.

Mr Likhachev, please make a note. Consider it a deal.

Maxim Vyalkov: Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: We have created this institution as something unique. I remember our conversation with the rector of Moscow State University and with Mr Kostyukov. Everyone said that this must be a unique institution.

If we succeed in this in the first steps, then, of course, we need to support this trend. Of course, a general pattern cannot be applied here, I agree. Agreed.

Maxim Vyalkov: Thank you, Mr President.

Vladimir Putin: Good luck in your study of neutrinos.

Maxim Vyalkov: And finding a wife.

Vladimir Putin: I don’t know what is more important. I am not kidding: if you meet a young lady who is not that keen on science, what will you do? Forget about neutrinos?

Maxim Vyalkov: I may have found a formula: the wife must be an architect.

Vladimir Putin: Why?

Maxim Vyalkov: This will take too long to explain. I am afraid we’ll overstep the time limits. It is like a man of art. You know, a building has a soul, and the architect is the one who creates this soul; so, she must feel the beauty of the Universe. A physicist and a mathematician feel this beauty of the Universe in the same way. That is, you can find…

Vladimir Putin: A person must think in images.

Maxim Vyalkov: Yes.

Vladimir Putin: I see.

You know, just as your institution should not be limited by some stereotypes, you should not be limited by these stereotypes either. Accepting an “architect” as the only option limits your opportunities, and that’s it, you hit a wall. Find a person who thinks in images, and the profession can vary.

Maxim Vyalkov: Yes, Mr President, I will take it into account and write it down.

Vladimir Putin: No, no, it is your choice.


Vitalia Kuleshova: Good evening.

Vladimir Putin: Good evening.

Vitalia Kuleshova: I am Vitalia Kuleshova, a student at MSU Sarov Branch and a participant in the 10th field of the National Physics and Mathematics Centre.

Vladimir Putin: Tenth field?

Vitalia Kuleshova: Yes.

Vladimir Putin: What is that?

Vitalia Kuleshova: The 10th field has to do with experimental astrophysics and geophysics.

Mr President, I already introduced myself to you in a letter when I was in the 8th grade at Nizhny Novgorod College.

We received a letter saying that we would be merged with a general school. For a girl that was only discovering the world of physics it was a deathly blow, and I thought that you were the only person who could help us.

And you have. Today we are seeing many physicists and mathematicians graduate from our college. I hope that Mr Sergeyev can confirm that the 40th College will become a basic part of the National Physics and Mathematics Centre. I believed that the day would come when I would be able to thank you for preserving our college.

Apart from that, I would like to thank you for giving us one of the main factors that is vital to the development of young scientists, which is a feeling of engagement with our homeland. Everyone feels this differently. For me at that time, it was a feeling of being protected. For example, many people envy the residents of Sarov, because they were born in the Federal Nuclear Centre. The name alone makes you feel this.

The young professionals who come to the All-Russian Research Institute of Experimental Physics are twice as lucky, because they meet Mr Kostyukov, who is personally monitoring the patriotic education of young employees, and his gaze alone is sometimes enough to help us understand who we are, what we are, and why we are here. Not all research teams are lucky to have this atmosphere.

I believe that the National Physics and Mathematics Centre has inspired a feeling of belonging in many of us. To me, the National Physics and Mathematics Centre is a place that can unite research institutes in projects of global scale, and this movement towards unification and joint work would not have happened without you.

It is a place where you can realise your talent, youthful energy, and most importantly, feel engaged in state programmes that are advancing science. I fully agree with Maxim Vyalkov, that we have a lot to work with in science and we can find fulfilment in his area. This is very important for an ambitious young scientist.

For now, project participants from all over Russia are waiting for new modern facilities. We know that you have supported this, which we see as a guarantee that everyone of us will have an opportunity to become part of this new and very important fundamental science.

I am a theoretical physicist, but I am waiting for new astrophysics laboratories where I can continue the study of pulsars. Of course, my objects are not as small as the ones Maxim is studying. A pulsar is a unique astrophysical body, a neutron star located at a great distance that is rotating in a super-powerful magnetic field and that sometimes emits beams [of electromagnetic radiation]. For many years, pulsars were a purely theoretical subject, but today we can apply our knowledge in practice. If we know the location of a pulsar, we can use the extremely high stability of the beams it emits as a grid point for creating a new navigation system. It will differ dramatically from GPS or GLONASS for one very simple reason: it is a natural object that is located at a great distance and cannot be disabled.

This project is underway at the NPMC jointly with the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences. We hope to be able to complete this technological transfer and move the problem from the theoretical to the practical plane.

And yet, I would like to say a few words about personnel. I believe others will talk about this as well, but I would like to talk about it as a student. Human resources are a vital issue to us because they influence our community. When the construction of devices starts, the trust of young talented scientists will soar.

I am asking you to order the start of the construction. We are ready for practical work; we are ready to justify the hopes you put in Russian science and, of course, a Russian nuclear shield.

Vladimir Putin: You said that being here gives you a sense of involvement in the problems the nation is working on, a feeling of responsibility for the country, and I think this is only natural, because this is exactly the agency or entity that has been building Russia’s nuclear shield, ensuring its strategic security. The very understanding of this situation naturally elevates anyone’s mind. This is an obvious thing.

We have created this new physics and mathematics centre, I have already talked about it, and I want to repeat it again: we all believe, and your senior comrades believed that we needed something like this. We have a mathematics school, and physics is developing; there is the Moscow Institute, the parent organisation, and relevant agencies demonstrate good results, too, but still, your senior comrades believed that there was a need to breathe some new life, to take a step forward, create something completely new.

Indeed, it was hard not to support it. I am delighted to hear that the project is working out so well. And of course, we need to move forward, without any doubt, because just laying the foundation will not generate the final result that the country needs.

We will certainly continue working. As far as I remember, Mr Kostyukov will correct me if I'm wrong, I think we planned three mega-science facilities, and they will be built step by step. The total funding for the various laboratories in this part, I think, is somewhere around 77 billion. Right?

Valentin Kostyukov, Director of Russian Federal Nuclear Centre, All-Russia Research Institute of Experimental Physics: Yes.

Vladimir Putin: Yes. There are three projects.

Valentin Kostyukov: That's right.

Vladimir Putin: But how many laboratories at the first stage? Our colleagues have broken the project down into stages. Seven?

Vitalia Kuleshova: Seven.

Vladimir Putin: Seven laboratories with a total funding of 9.7 billion. We should do this by 2029, I think, and then keep going from there. So we will strive for that.

Vitalia Kuleshova: Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: You are welcome. Thank you.

Sergei Koshechkin: Mr President, may I add something?

Vladimir Putin: Yes, of course.

Sergei Koshechkin: You mentioned the mega-science facilities.

My name is Sergei Koshechkin, I am a fellow at the Institute of Laser Physics at VNIIEF.

More on the subject of the facilities that Vitalia has mentioned, and that you mentioned, the mega-science facilities. I would also like to say a few words.

Indeed, cutting-edge facilities we can use to obtain unique results are of key importance in modern science. I must say that quite a lot of work has been done here. We have specific proposals, and have already accomplished something, largely thanks to the government’s support for the development of the VNIIEF experimental facilities.

The project of the National Centre of Physics and Mathematics has effectively turned these plans to build a number of mega-science facilities into concrete objectives. These facilities have no analogues in the modern scientific landscape. They are intended for obtaining new results from research that is by definition impossible to conduct using any existing facilities, in Russia or abroad.

The horizon for implementing these projects is 2030. As you rightly said, I would perhaps like to single out one of those three mega-science projects, which seems the most important to me – the Compton source. The very idea of a Compton source lies at the intersection of the accelerator and laser concepts. That is, when a beam of accelerated particles interacts with a classical laser beam of quanta, gamma quanta with very high energy will be generated through Compton scattering, with beam energy equaling hundreds of MeV.

Due to this high energy, gamma quanta can penetrate the nuclei of atoms. In fact, this is a new tool for probing nuclear matter, and it opens up opportunities for studying intra-nuclear processes, exploring the nature of isomers, and so on.

As I said, it is the symbiosis of two fields, lasers and accelerators, i.e. of nuclear and radiation physics. I think it is important to remember that these two fields have always been at a fairly high level in Russia.

I would like to add that we have created a concept for designing these midi-science devices of the medium class. There are seven of them, as you said.

These devices will be ready to provide new physical results within three to five years and will become the first stage towards creating mega-science devices and a new fundamental science.

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: Does this mean that we should begin with what you propose?

Sergei Koshechkin: Yes, we must also focus on midi-science.

Vladimir Putin: In this case, our colleagues should submit these proposals.

Alexei Likhachev: When we mentioned problems with funding, we were ready to assume this responsibility, and for the first two years we received funding from Rosatom. This is how we worked.

It should be said that despite all the difficulties the Finance Ministry has been supportive: it has provided for up to 9 billion rubles’ worth of allocations under different balance sheet items for the next three years. Of course, we plan to have mixed funding to develop of our medium laboratories. But we cannot do without serious federal support as tens of billions of rubles are involved.

There is one more important issue. MSU’s branch should develop along with us. It concerns a slightly different kind of funding and a different attitude. When Mr Mishustin visited us, he was with [Minister of Science and Higher Education] Falkov, who promised his support. We hope to see this in practice.

Vladimir Putin: You know, if we find the money to build nuclear energy projects abroad… We are basically completely financing the project in Egypt, which costs $25 billion. And the project in Turkey costs $17 billion, right?

Alexei Likhachev: No, the project in Turkey will cost $23-$24 billion.

Vladimir Putin: $23-$24 billion, with 100 percent Russian funding, with only Russian money. But at home we must find the necessary funds jointly with the corporation. We will look around; we will work towards this.

Welcome, Mr Zimalin.

Boris Zimalin: Let me continue my colleague's point about the project to create mega-installations and the involvement of modern scientific schools in them.

My name is Boris Zimalin and I also work at the Institute of Laser Physics. In parallel with my main work I give lectures on high-power laser installations and their applications to students of the Moscow State University branch. In my lectures I try to convey to future scientists the beauty and complexity of the subject to which, in fact, I have devoted my professional life.

For more than half a century, the Russian Federal Nuclear Centre has had a unique physics school dealing with high-power laser facilities. The achievements of this school have gained worldwide recognition.

Our lasers in laboratories already now allow us to reproduce conditions that in nature exist only in the bowels of huge planets and stars. This gives us great opportunities to discover new properties of matter, as well as to model processes that make it possible, for example, to study how the Universe developed, i.e. to trace the evolution of the Universe.

Many modern technologies are based on lasers, and continued research in this direction will allow us to discover new and perhaps even unexpected applications for these unique devices.

The field of lasers is not young but it is still a dynamically developing branch of physics. It is very encouraging that today’s youth is interested in this issue. For example, this year more than ten graduates from Moscow State University branch alone have joined our laser department.

Vladimir Putin: From here, from Sarov?

Boris Zimalin: Yes, ten people from the Moscow State University branch, even more.

Vladimir Putin: That is great.

Boris Zimalin: Work is now underway at our nuclear centre on a project that will bring Russia to a leading position in high energy density physics and laser thermonuclear fusion. This, in fact, will enable us to compete with the West.

Last year we successfully completed the first stage of creating a multi-channel laser facility with mega joule energy levels. Already, together with scientists from the Russian Academy of Sciences, we have begun research at this facility to study the behaviour of matter in extreme conditions, generation of strong shock waves, fast electrons, and hard X-ray radiation. In addition, of course, a number of programmes are being implemented to develop fundamental and various applied areas of science.

The facility is very much in demand, and already at the first stage of its creation it has become a kind of shared use centre. What do I consider most important? This facility is a modern scientific testing ground for educating the young and, I would even say, very young, very young generation of scientists.

Vladimir Putin: I can only congratulate you and wish you further success.

Boris Zimalin: Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: I understand how important this is for the national economy, and for enhancing the country's defence capability. I am familiar with some of the achievements in this area.

And I wish you success.

Boris Zimalin: Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: And what I am familiar with is impressive. It is almost fantastical, but it is becoming a reality, which is great.

Go ahead.

Dmitry Vshivkov: Good afternoon, Mr President.

Let me continue. I am one of the graduates who got a chance to work at this mega-science facility.

My name is Dmitry Vshivkov, and I have dreamed of finding new sources of alternative energy since I was a child. I graduated from Ural Federal University in Yekaterinburg, but unfortunately, I had no opportunity to use such high level facilities like they have in Sarov, so I enrolled in MSU Sarov. I got my degree this year and now I am going to enter graduate school here at the NCPM (National Center for Physics and Mathematics).

I am currently a junior researcher at the Institute of Laser Physics at VNIIEF, in a laser thermonuclear fusion programme. I am studying the equation of state to obtain databases of materials that line deuterium-tritium mixture shells.

We talked about theoretical and applied science, but it is important to note that science can only ever be open. That is why the NCPM was created as a city of science, with both scientific and social aspects promoted at the same time.

During my course at MSU Sarov, more than 50 research organisations and scientific communities have joined the NCPM programme. Students establish ties with other universities, organise summer schools and joint programmes with Sirius University in Sochi.

But when it comes to the further expansion of scientific ties and education programmes, logistics has become a problem. We are very grateful to you for the opening of the first section of the M-12 highway, which will cut even my own travel time to Yekaterinburg by half in the near future.

We really appreciate your attention to the logistics issues, but we hope the development of Sarov and the NCPM will not stop there. We want the city to have an airport with regular flights. It will make the NCPM a point of attraction for prominent scientists, members of the Russian Academy of Sciences, talented schoolchildren and university students.

We mentioned science, but high science is nothing without high culture. We hope that greater transport accessibility will allow us to invite not only scientists, but also cultural, arts, and sports figures to the NCPM.

I would like to mention the possibility of building a cultural entertainment centre in the village of Satis, which is outside the restricted area, so that NCPM can become not only the scientific capital of Russia, but also an important point on the cultural map of our country.

Vladimir Putin: I certainly agree with you. The people who live here should by all means have a full life, those who work here and consider making this place their home. They certainly need to live to the fullest, otherwise they will be bored. They need to have opportunities to participate in sports, and they need cultural institutions, and good transport logistics. Of course, we will work on this.

You just spoke about the open territory. Mr Nikitin, you have already created several institutions there, haven’t you?

Gleb Nikitin: There is a technology park nearby, which is developing, and an area of socioeconomic development. But the thing is, that the airport is in a closed area now, and permission to use it must be obtained, including for students and teachers at the centre.

Vladimir Putin: To use this airport?

Dmitry Vshivkov: Yes, so that there are regular flights to Moscow.

Alexei Likhachev: Mr President, this is a historically important issue. We receive much support from the diocese and the Russian Orthodox Church in general.

Vladimir Putin: Is the airport located in a closed area?

Alexei Likhachev: Yes. But we will try to work out, jointly with the authorized agencies, the possible creation of, roughly speaking, a “green corridor” so that people can leave the airport immediately outside Sarov, and fill out all documents outside the control zone.

Vladimir Putin: It looks to me like this can be done, of course.

Alexei Likhachev: We do hope that this permission will be granted. Then all the church shrines in the south of the Nizhny Novgorod Region – Boldino and the surrounding areas – will, of course…

Vladimir Putin: How many kilometres is it from here to Nizhny?

Alexei Likhachev: It takes two and a half to three hours by car.

Reply: 180 kilometres.

Alexei Likhachev: Yes. Moreover, you have to go via Arzamas and through all the villages that are on the way to Arzamas.

Vladimir Putin: And so the airport load in Nizhny Novgorod would immediately drop.

Alexei Likhachev: In Nizhny Novgorod? Mr Nikitin, how many flights are there? There are probably five flights a day to Moscow.

Gleb Nikitin: In fact, you can get there in two hours if you really want to.

Alexei Likhachev: With a beacon light.

Gleb Nikitin: Naturally, accessibility to those territories that Mr Likhachev is talking about, such as Diveyevo and even Arzamas… in terms of air traffic, I cannot see it hurting the overall load. And also, we have Moscow flights… we are talking about Moscow flights primarily. And interregional transportation…

Vladimir Putin: They would definitely drop; you do not need to study pulsars to understand: the number of flights from Moscow to here is partially filled with people who travel to this region. But if it is closer to fly here, then why…

Gleb Nikitin: Now, it is very busy, with tickets…

Vladimir Putin: I am not the Minister of Transport, but I want to help. I think the aviation authorities must consider this.

As for the regulatory authorities that deal with various permits, I have reason to believe that we can come to an agreement with them.

What’s the question? It is not difficult to make a corridor like you said. What’s so difficult about that? A certain regime is introduced with some countries through which our trains travel, and everyone goes there without customs and border control. Can’t we do that here, inside the country? We can, of course.

However, I believe passenger capacity also matters. The air carriers would need to evaluate this, of course, but the Nizhny Novgorod airport would certainly see a drop, though I don’t know by how much. This issue is not just about the airlines; they are not concerned about specific destinations. This is about the capacity of the airport that employs a certain staff who receives wages, and their incomes would possibly drop.

Still, I believe it’s possible to resolve this. We need to consider solutions if this is important for Sarov, and if Sarov is important to the country. I believe we will resolve it.

Alla Georgiyevskaya: May I add a couple of words?

Vladimir Putin: Yes, please.

Alla Georgiyevskaya: My name is Alla Georgiyevskaya, and I work for the Institute of Explosion Physics. I teach at National Research Nuclear University MEPHI, and I supervise graduate students at the Moscow State University branch.

I am always working with a younger generation. There are some problems, including retaining people in the 17–27 year old category. They are the most important category because they provide new impetus. If they achieve something useful in the first five years after graduating from university, then this gives them a near 100-percent chance of becoming talented scientists.

Sarov has to compete with Moscow, St Petersburg and Nizhny Novgorod that create a scientific, cultural and leisure atmosphere (we just discussed this), rather than other cities with populations of 100,000, so, attracting teachers and doctors is a very important issue. They are the future residents of our city, future husbands and wives. We need to provide a cultural life, too.

Of course, we consider a drop in logistics important, and I can see this. I was born at this centre, and I already represent the third generation. As Vita Kuleshova said, I was lucky to be born at the Nuclear Centre, but leisure issues have always been a problem. The first generation, my grandfathers and grandmothers, came here from St Petersburg. So, you and I have the same roots, to some extent. Of course, the founders of that era realised that it was necessary to develop the local infrastructure. This infrastructure was created with the needs of the young people then in mind, but today’s young people have somewhat different interests, like wake parks, things like that. We brought MEPHI and Moscow State University here, so we need to establish shopping and new cultural centres here.

Vladimir Putin: It is hard to accomplish this without logistics.

Alla Georgiyevskaya: It is very difficult without logistics.

Vladimir Putin: We will do this.

 Alla Georgiyevskaya: Thank you.

Vladimir Putin (Addressing Dmitry Vshivkov): We will work on this, and I believe that we can reach an important resolution. I understand, thank you for adding that everything Dmitry Vshivkov said is important, so we understand how important this is. I understand. All right.

Ms Kalinina, please.

Anna Kalinina: Good afternoon, Mr President.

I would like to follow up on Alla Georgiyevskaya’s thought that it is necessary to develop our city.

I would like to speak about the first stage of training a scientist: school education. We all know that it is in school where a child’s love for science is built. But, unfortunately, we are seeing that school students’ interest in natural sciences is declining.

Vladimir Putin: Just a little bit. Last year and two years ago, the number of school graduates who picked physics and math for their Unified State Exam was a little bit lower.

Anna Kalinina: I help students with chemistry.

And when I ask them what they want to do after they graduate, they say that they want to become an IT specialist or a blogger. But fewer students want to work in physics, chemistry and other natural sciences. There are currently many different kinds of programmes designed to spark an interest in studying these particular subjects.

I would also like to address teachers and do something for them. The National Physics and Mathematics Centre could help in this case. There is an idea to create additional training courses for teachers in math and physics on a permanent basis. The courses will aim to brief teachers about new discoveries and achievements so that they would pass on this knowledge to students during lessons and not wait until textbooks write about these discoveries. I think it is a very good idea. We ask you to support it because it would be great if a teacher, even a young teacher, when coming to school, knew that they can improve their teaching. They can visit the Mashuk centre of knowledge which is also supported by our sector, and the National Physics and Mathematics Centre where they can meet our country’s leading scientists and learn new things from them.

But there is one more problem.

Vladimir Putin: Wait a second. What needs to be done?

Anna Kalinina: To support the idea to create additional training courses at the National Physics and Mathematics Centre.

Vladimir Putin: Here?

Anna Kalinina: Yes.

Vladimir Putin: The Sirius centre offers such courses. Why can’t you do the same? What do you need from me?

Anna Kalinina: Your blessing.

Vladimir Putin: You have it.

Alexey Likhachev: We will work on it with the Ministry of Education.

Vladimir Putin: I do not see any insurmountable obstacles.

Anna Kalinina: But there is one more problem that we are very concerned about. To bring teachers to the National Physics and Mathematics Centre and to the Mashuk centre, it is necessary to deal with the shortage of teachers. Unfortunately, it is a very serious problem. Yes, it needs to be solved in a comprehensive way, including by providing housing and improving medical care.

We know that the state is working on this. I personally and maybe all others very much like the County Teacher programme. But this programme is designed to help attract teachers to cities with a population of less than 50,000. Our closed town is bigger in terms of population, but we still lack teachers despite the fact that leading enterprises are located here, the Centre of Physics and Mathematics and a branch of Lomonosov Moscow State University. But still, we are critically lacking teachers.

Therefore, we ask you to expand the County Teacher programme to our closed town. It would really help our schools and the future generation, so that we can train scientists from the very beginning.

Vladimir Putin: I think that an exception can be made for Sarov, given its special importance.

Anna Kalinina: Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: (Addressing Alexei Likhachev.) Please, make a note.

Alexei Likhachev: Can we also add Snezhinsk or they will be offended. (Laughter.)

Shall we wrap up?

(Introducing Roman Korolev.) This is the same young man who was Roman, and now has become Mr Korolev over these nine years.

Roman Korolev: In 2014, I had the honour to report to you on our areas of activity and request support for the development and implementation of application software and computer technologies in general.

So, over nine years, we have achieved quite major successes with the support of Rosatom State Corporation, with the support of the Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade. In fact, we can note with satisfaction that the Logos software package is now already used by more than 90 industrial organisations, and 1,500 workplaces have it. It is used in designing 40 high-tech products, 30 of which are products of the military-industrial complex.

Vladimir Putin: Great.

Roman Korolev: The Logos team has more than tripled in three years.

Vladimir Putin: How many people are there now?

Roman Korolev: The number varies from 300 to 400 here, not counting cooperation arrangements. This growth is also due to the fact that we are opening co-development units at leading Russian universities.

For example, one unit is already operating at Lobachevsky University of Nizhny Novgorod, and next year we are opening one at Kazan Federal University in the Republic of Tatarstan. In general, we are working with universities, although individually with each university for now, but at the same time we are introducing disciplines and training in the use of software and have already done so in about 28 universities.

Vladimir Putin: In universities, right?

Roman Korolev: Yes.

Vladimir Putin: You create a market for yourself and for your product.

Roman Korolev: Future market.

Vladimir Putin: Yes, of course.

Roman Korolev: Of course.

In fact, I would like to note that this entire movement that attracts young people to this process when they feel like they are part of one big mission and one big team, would be impossible without the knowledge and competencies that we have accumulated as VNIIEF, as Rosatom and as the nuclear weapons complex in these areas in which we are now implementing this.

We are looking at the results of the projects that we are already implementing with confidence. We are now creating a national project, a platform that will unite all developments in this area in order to increase functionality for industry, thereby ensuring competitiveness.

Together with the Ministry of Industry and Trade, we are developing and implementing computer testing technologies for the military-industrial complex based on Logos software. We are trying to reduce, and will reduce, the number of live experiments, thereby also reducing the time and cost of products and increasing competitiveness.

All of this in general suggests that technological transfer from defence to civilian sector should not only be supported, but also expanded. Rosatom now organises this at a fairly systemic level. In addition to implementing the Logos software package and our technologies in general, we are also finding applications for other products for the market. These include the well-known Tianox device, a device that will allow us to get rid of external influences without surgical intervention.

In general, this whole ecosystem of technology transfer from defence to civilian sector and vice versa allows us not only to provide young people for this area, but also to provide the industry with advanced technologies and products in general.

Vladimir Putin: First, I congratulate you. This is a really good result. That is the first thing.

Second. From 2025, you probably know about it….

Roman Korolev: Yes.

Vladimir Putin: …it will be forbidden for state institutions and some companies to use foreign software. So we are administratively helping you to expand…

Roman Korolev: We feel it and we are striving to cover everything completely.

Vladimir Putin: And we will continue to help.

The fact that you also do it in universities, as far as I understand, you do it all for free, right?

Roman Korolev: Yes, we give it to universities free of charge for introducing it into the educational process.

Vladimir Putin: Rightly so.

And we will continue to do everything we can to ensure the success of your work and that of your colleagues, those who will be working, perhaps, in other places and in other areas.

Roman Korolev: We will not let you down.

Vladimir Putin: I see that. You are really doing very well. I want to thank you for this sincerely, from the bottom of my heart, because it is one of the most difficult – what can I say, you know, I won't go into details – and extremely necessary, one of the most, perhaps, necessary areas of work in today's conditions.

Thank you. Good luck. We will help you in every way we can.

Mr Likhachev will tell us what needs to be done.

Alexei Likhachev: Mr President, my colleagues are moving forward very confidently. Logos is a system of mathematical calculations, mathematical modelling. The Government has instructed us to create a product lifecycle management system – the so-called PLM, if we use the English acronym. We have proactively developed a serious construction management system – a BIM model called Multi-D, which was also born deep inside our nuclear construction complex. Our task is to completely replace Ansys, Siemens and other products in 2025. There is simply no other way.

Two or three years ago, I remember, there was the first meeting. You tried to find out from me what Ansys is and how it all works. I am very glad that we did not let you down, and we are getting closer and closer to 100 percent import substitution in the most complex industrial software. This is the most difficult thing.

Vladimir Putin: Please, Mr Sergeyev.

Scientific Director of the National Physics and Mathematics Centre, member of the Russian Academy of Sciences Alexander Sergeyev: Thank you, Mr President.

As scientific director, I would like to comment on the young men’s remarks. But first I want to say that eighteen months ago you recommended me for the position of scientific director, and, in fact, I am now very happy that you did. We all work really well together here.

Firstly, our centre cooperates with more than 50 scientific organisations and universities of Russia now, and science is done, of course, first of all, at the Federal Nuclear Centre: we are now setting up our own infrastructure here. But these 50 Russia institutions also make a very large contribution to the scientific programme.

About 2,000 scientists in total work in the research programme, and more than half of them are young, under 39 years old. In fact, very powerful cooperation has been created.

When we talked about the relationship between the older and the younger generations, mega-science installations were among the examples. The older generation, which, of course, sees the situation better, which has been thinking about the idea all their life, formulates it. The three mega-installations that we will build here are absolutely unique by world standards, with parameters that are several degrees better than what can be found abroad. Young people see that this is really a very interesting, cool thing.

This kind of relationship between senior colleagues who see life and understand that they [young specialists] will come and build and operate these installations is a very important feature of our brotherhood that is being created here.

Vladimir Putin: We were counting on this when we “blessed” this project.

Alexander Sergeyev: In fact, we will “anchor” young people with this, and here they will unlock their potential. The idea is simple.

Of course, we believe that we can fulfil this task. This will be a “scientific Mecca”, and they want the same thing, so that in the future it will truly be an international centre, so that scientists from all over the world will want to move and work here.

It is also very important – they did not talk about this, but I think I should say this – that we understand perfectly well that the fundamental problems that we will address are, of course, future science, but also future foundations that then will bear fruit in the nuclear weapons complex. And when our young people say, “Compton source,” “a super-power laser,” we can simply see the work programme and how we can be useful through such fundamental science. This is very important, because there will be unique solutions that will then be adopted in the nuclear weapons complex, and we will thereby solve the second problem of transferring our knowledge from fundamental science to the nuclear weapons complex.

When we talk about reverse transfer, that is, the solutions in the nuclear weapons complex and in fact in cooperation we have established now, we realise that the National Centre will soon be assessed not only in terms of fundamental science but also in terms of its contribution to the country’s technological sovereignty and national security. We are very well aware of that.

Therefore, we have a number of interesting technology transfer projects. There is an example which is already 10 years old, I mean the Logos software package Roman Korolev was talking about. However, we also have some new projects that actually evolved through the cooperation of our organisations here. They were presented to the management of the Federal Nuclear Centre, Mr Alexei Likhachev, and they were accepted, and are now becoming our flagship projects of technology transfer.

First of all, this is an X-ray lithographer we are now beginning to make using Rosatom’s investment funds. In five years we are going to have our own 28-nanometre X-ray lithographer. We are absolutely confident that we will accomplish this project. A significant part of the works will be conducted here by the Federal Nuclear Centre.

We have very interesting technology transfer projects involving photon technologies and quantum technologies. Say, sending quantum keys from space to the Earth, which was also discussed at the Future Technologies Forum you moderated. It is a task we also take up.

And overall, it is also a new fundamental science viewed, among other things, as a transfer of new ideas to the nuclear weapons complex and the other way round, a transfer from the nuclear weapons complex to our practice to ensure technological sovereignty and national security. This is a three-pronged task we are pursuing here.

To conclude, I would like to say that we are very happy to work with these young people, they are really extremely motivated, they want to benefit the country as soon as possible as well as the Russian science and world science. I must say, since I came from a different system, that Rosatom has an exceptionally correct and efficiently built ecosystem of education. It works perfectly well, and one is eager to join it.

Speaking about major problems we are faced with, Mr President, they are infrastructure problems, of course. We are ready, and the young people are ready to get to work, we have projects, all specifications have been presented to the Government. That is, the problems are primarily related to the new campus building and devices for midi-laboratories.

Our big request is to help us all together turn the NCPM into an iconic landmark of the country as soon as possible. We have great hopes for your respective decisions and instructions regarding our issue.

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: All right, I am glad to hear it. Thank you.

Does anyone else want to say something? Is it all?

Alexei Likhachev: Thank you very much.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you.

I would like to once again thank all of you who were at the onset of the MSU branch’s project; it is growing and finding its own resonance. I believe that it will develop positively in the format you have just spoken about. I heard what Mr Sergeyev said. We will also try to solve the everyday issues, logistics issues, other issues related to the work of the centre.

I would like to once again express the hope that the beginnings will develop into something more. What do I mean? When schoolchildren, students and scientists live in close quarters, an ecosystem is created that definitely promises very good results.

There are such examples in Russia, and they are very good. Academician Alferov created a school in St Petersburg where both schoolchildren and scientists were all together. I do not know what is going on there now; I have not visited for a long time. But this is absolutely positive synergy, and we just need to support it.

Of course, I would like to thank you once again and to end where I began: thanking our Federal Nuclear Centre for the work it is carrying out. We have now taken a very careful look at the military sphere, in which the Federal Nuclear Centre has no equals, so to speak. I would definitely like to thank you for this.

And, at every level of your multilateral work, I would like to conclude by saying that the future of the country will, of course, depend on the results of your work in the field of fundamental science and on how quickly your achievements are implemented in real life. This will be reflected in new systems and in information processing speed; this will mean new materials and achievements in all areas and will bring real results and help strengthen our country.

Without a doubt – Dmitry Vshivkov has just said so, too – not only logistics but cultural institutions should develop here. You have the spiritual centre of the country nearby. With your achievements in the field of science, it is very important for us to preserve the soul of the country, the soul of the multi-ethnic and multi-religious Russia; and support our traditional values. The combination of all these elements will certainly create a powerful synergistic effect and help the country move forward.

Thank you very much again and good luck. All the best.

September 8, 2023, Sarov