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Meeting on the socioeconomic development of the Kaliningrad Region

January 25, 2024, Kaliningrad

The President chaired a meeting on the socioeconomic development of the Kaliningrad Region.

Taking part in the meeting were deputy prime ministers Alexander Novak, Marat Khusnullin and Dmitry Chernyshenko, Presidential Aide Maxim Oreshkin, Minister of Economic Development Maxim Reshetnikov, Minister of Transport Vitaly Savelyev, Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Northwestern Federal District Alexander Gutsan, and Governor of the Kaliningrad Region Anton Alikhanov.

The meeting was joined via videoconference by First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov, Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov, Minister of Culture Olga Lyubimova, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov and Director General of the ROSATOM State Corporation Alexei Likhachev.

During the meeting, Vladimir Putin took part, via videoconference, in launching the production of silicon wafers at the EnCore Group factory in the city of Chernyakhovsk in the Kaliningrad Region.

Earlier in the day, the President saw a video presentation of the construction of a cultural and educational complex on Oktyabrsky Island, and he also met with students of regional universities.

* * *

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues and friends, good afternoon!

Today, we are meeting to discuss the socioeconomic issues of the Kaliningrad Region.

Naturally, the development of every region is based on specific projects and business initiatives, and on the work of many people, many teams and specialists in the most diverse areas.

Therefore, I am pleased to begin our work with greetings to everyone who participated in the construction of this new cutting-edge factory to make silicon wafers for solar cells at the Chernyakhovsk Industrial Park. A second solar cell factory will be launched soon, in the first quarter of this year, also at the Kaliningrad site.

This will make the Kaliningrad Region home to Europe’s largest complex that makes equipment for solar power plants – a significant event not only for the region’s residents, but also for the entire country. After the launch of these advanced facilities, we will have all the main components for the development of solar generation available locally. We will be able to build environmentally friendly solar power plants using domestic facilities and components.

It is also of fundamental importance that the development of such promising industries means new jobs, strong demand for highly qualified specialists, and engineers and technologists. This should give people opportunities for professional growth, for increasing their incomes, and accordingly, their families’ financial standing.

I know that the initiators of the project were proactive and began training personnel for their project in advance, together with the Baltic Federal University. This is a good example of partnership between the education system and business, the real sector of the economy. Speaking of which, we have been talking about this; we touched on most of these issues at the recent meeting with the students of Kaliningrad universities.

Friends, I would like to thank everyone who helped build this new industrial facility. I congratulate the staff on starting this new operation. I certainly wish everyone further success.

Now I would like to give the floor to Governor of the Kaliningrad Region Anton Alikhanov.

(Anton Alikhanov spoke about the importance of launching the production of silicon wafers at the EnCore Group factory in Chernyakhovsk, Kaliningrad Region. Reports on that issue were also delivered by Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Northwestern Federal District Alexander Gutsan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov, and Director General of Unigreen Energy Igor Shakhrai. As production of the silicon wafers began, a videoconference was held.)

Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, let us address the main part of our conference now, our agenda.

I already mentioned that we have just met with the students of the Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University in Kaliningrad, including on the occasion of Russian Student Day. I congratulated the students, the teachers, the post-graduates and all former students of our universities. Every one of us is a graduate, so this is also our day, in part. So, I would like to congratulate all of you and your teachers on this day and to express gratitude to them for their work. I hope that education as a sector will develop actively in our country.

The young people presented their views on the region’s development. The overwhelming majority of them, as I understand it, hope to follow a professional career in the region where they are studying, which is very good. They put forth a number of ideas. We will eventually address all the issues they touched upon, one way or another.

First, I would like to say that the Kaliningrad Region is, as we know, the westernmost region of Russia, which accounts for its geography and the illegal actions by some countries such as the breach of logistics links and attempts to impose a transport blockade, which is complicating the work of our enterprises, of course.

It has also affected our key indicators. Industrial production in Russia as a whole has grown considerably, by 14.6 percent, whereas in Kaliningrad it slumped by 7.7 percent between January and November 2023. Therefore, we must provide additional support to the region’s development with due regard for these challenges and the new realities.

Overall, the situation is improving. I believe the Kaliningrad Region Governor will speak about this issue, which we have touched upon during our brief conversation. But overall, the situation is normalising. Is this so, Mr Alikhanov? What is the situation now?

Kaliningrad Region Governor Anton Alikhanov: Mr President, we can report economic growth since August. In other words, there is a monthly growth trend, but we need some time to close the gap that has developed.

Vladimir Putin: That is very good; we must keep up this positive trend.

This goes for the economy, incentives for business, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, and, of course, the creation of comfortable living conditions for people. I would like to remind you that about one million people live here.

We see a clear trend towards growth in the number of permanent residents here. The population of the region has recently increased by 16 percent to over 1 million people, or more precisely, 1.033 million.

The state programme for promoting social and economic development in the Kaliningrad Region must include all the steps for supporting the region. Let me remind you that we have been carrying out this programme since 2013. In September 2023, we had a detailed discussion with the government on the need to extend it until 2030. We also reviewed the initiatives to be included in this programme.

I issued a list of instructions following that meeting. Today, I would like to hear a progress report on the execution of what we agreed on. Overall, what I want to hear from you is what else we can factor into our future efforts and what other measures need to be included in this programme.

Let me repeat that our goal is to ensure that the region develops a vibrant economy as it faces a new environment. In this context, I would like to hear what we have to offer in terms of supporting businesses as part of the programme to develop the Kaliningrad Region. We must also discuss the region’s transport accessibility, in particular, shipments to the region and shipments of finished goods to other regions of Russia, as well as to global markets.

On the issue of travelling to and from the region, we just discussed this matter at the university. There was a proposal by the governor to use the 450 million rubles we allocate to the region every year for subsidising this flat tariff only for people living in this region regardless of their status. It will cover only people living in this region, which includes students, of course, as well as other specific specialist categories who have permanent jobs here without necessarily registering as residents.

The governor believes that this would enable more people from the Kaliningrad Region to benefit from this subsidy. As far as I understood, Mr Chernyshenko does not have any objections and does not see any threat in terms of incoming tourist flows to the Kaliningrad Region, considering that it is already quite substantial.

I would like to ask the Minister of Transport to share his opinion on this proposal.

Minister of Transport Vitaly Savelyev: Mr President, we will review this proposal. These fares are in force here. We will work with Mr Alikhanov to evaluate the situation and report back to you. I think that there are several options here.

Vladimir Putin: As it is, we run out of money within the first four months of the year, however if we choose not to apply this subsidy across the entire country, when everyone receives only a small portion, and instead give it all to people living in the Kaliningrad Region, more people who are permanent residents here would be able to benefit from it. I think this could be the way to go. But please, do not drag your feet on this matter. The year has already started and we need to move forward fast.

Vitaly Savelyev: Understood.

Vladimir Putin: Next, one focus should be making full use of the region’s tourism and recreation potential. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the region has large or even huge potential in this sphere, and making use of it will undoubtedly help strengthen and diversify the regional economy and create thousands of jobs, especially since demand for recreation in Kaliningrad, Svetlogorsk, Zelenogradsk and other cities in the region has been growing in recent years. I believe it has grown by two thirds, from 490,000 people in 2022 to over 700,000 in 2023.

I would like to ask Mr Chernyshenko to tell us about the situation in this sphere later, including about plans for a comfortable sea resort, White Dune, which are being worked out now.

It is obvious that increasing the number of tourists will require expanding the throughput capacity of the airport and completing all stages of the Coastal Ring Road. This is also needed for tourists from other regions of our country to be able to quickly and comfortably reach recreation sites and for improving transport connectivity in the Kaliningrad Region so as to ease road congestion, which is currently a problem for both local residents and visitors.

Other priorities include stepping up the construction of housing, modernising the utilities infrastructure, and overhauling old and building new healthcare, sports and couture facilities.

Regarding cultural development, I would like to mention such a large-scale project as the creation of a modern cultural cluster in Kaliningrad, which will house the branches of the Tretyakov Gallery, the Bolshoi Theatre and the Russian State Institute of Performing Arts. We have just been told about the progress of this project. I hope that all the planned stages of construction will be completed on schedule.

I am aware of certain difficulties with the delivery of equipment and other issues, but success requires tenacity. I have no doubt that we can accomplish everything if we keep working and believe in our success. I am confident that this is so. I hope that construction workers and all those involved in the project will be filled with confidence as well.

This cultural centre is expected to radically increase the accessibility of the best examples of the musical, theatrical and fine arts for people in the region. It will also offer additional opportunities for creative self-realisation and for the artistic education of young people.

This does not mean, of course, that people will lose interest in travelling to the “mainland,” as they say, meaning to visit theatres and museums in Moscow, St Petersburg and other large Russian cities. They will not lose interest, of course, and the creation of a multipurpose centre here will certainly encourage local residents to visit the cultural centres I have mentioned.

Even when a branch of the Bolshoi Theatre opens here, they will want to visit the Bolshoi Theatre itself. When a branch of the Tretyakov Gallery opens, they will want to see what the Russian Museum and the Hermitage in St Petersburg have on display. It means a completely different quality of life.

Our agenda includes other current issues related to the development of the region’s economy and industry. Let us start working on them.


January 25, 2024, Kaliningrad