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Meeting with Government members

August 16, 2023, The Kremlin, Moscow

Vladimir Putin held a videoconference meeting with Government members.

Taking part in the meeting were Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Anton Vaino, deputy prime ministers Tatyana Golikova and Dmitry Chernyshenko, Deputy Prime Minister – Minister of Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov, Presidential Aide Maxim Oreshkin, Minister of Economic Development Maxim Reshetnikov and Minister of Finance Anton Siluanov.

The meeting was also attended by Minister for Civil Defence, Emergencies and Natural Disaster Relief Alexander Kurenkov, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Alexander Kozlov, Minister of Agriculture Dmitry Patrushev, Minister of Transport Vitaly Savelyev, Minister of Construction, Housing and Utilities Irek Fayzullin, Minister of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media Maksut Shadayev, Head of the Komi Republic Vladimir Uyba, Governor of the Kamchatka Territory Vladimir Solodov, Governor of the Kemerovo Region – Kuzbass, Chair of the State Council Commission on Energy Sergei Tsivilev, Governor of the Murmansk Region Andrei Chibis, Head of the Federal Agency for Fisheries Ilya Shestakov, CEO – Chairman of the Executive Board of Russian Railways Oleg Belozerov and Head of the Russian Popular Front Executive Committee Mikhail Kuznetsov.

* * *

Excerpts from transcript of videoconference meeting with Government members

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, good afternoon. Hello.

Today we will discuss developing the economy in the coal-mining regions of Russia. But let’s start with the current situation. First, let’s listen to Tatyana Golikova’s report. I know that the Healthcare Ministry and the Emergencies Ministry have taken part in efforts to promptly help the people who happened to be at the epicentre of the tragedy in Daghestan.

We are all worried about what happened, about the victims and the injured, and we wish a speedy recovery to all those who were injured. We convey our condolences to all families of our citizens who were killed in this tragedy.

I know that the Emergencies Ministry also got involved in this, as have the local authorities. Those who need help the most are receiving it at Moscow clinics. How is this work organised?

Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova: Good afternoon, Mr President.

We have organised medical assistance in the Republic of Daghestan, and, as you know, a team from the Federal Centre for Disaster Medicine immediately flew to the site. Unfortunately, 119 people, including 20 children, were injured in the incident, and 35 died, including three children. After assessing the situation at the location, a decision was made to transport 16 patients, including three children, to federal institutions in Moscow on medical grounds.

The injured who were evacuated to ten federal institutions in Moscow, were mostly in serious condition, both adults and children. They are receiving the necessary medical assistance, and all measures will be taken.

As for those who are in medical facilities of Daghestan, there are 50 of them, including 14 children, they are also in serious and moderate condition, but we are in close coordination with the Republic, and all the necessary assistance is being provided. Everything they need is available in the Republic.

In addition, the Serbsky Institute is providing the necessary psychological assistance to the families who have lost their loved ones and whose relatives and friends have been injured or are being treated at federal institutions. All these matters are under control, and I wanted to thank the Emergencies Ministry for our joint effort; a plane with disaster medicine service staff took off quickly, and we were able to evacuate the victims and quickly transport them to Moscow.

Vladimir Putin: The Head of the Republic [Sergei Melikov] reported to me yesterday that all the services responded promptly and efficiently and thanked me for that.

Mr Kurenkov, how do you find the situation there?

Minister for Civil Defence, Emergencies and Natural Disaster Relief Alexander Kurenkov: Mr President, the group is really working hard, and a Deputy Minister is there right now. The response centre is operating, everything is being analysed and evaluated. All the tasks are, in fact, clear to us. We are only a bit worried about the cause of this, but other services are working on that.

Vladimir Putin: Yes, I know, an investigation is underway.

Ok. We must do everything to minimise the damage and help people. Work on this diligently with the local authorities.

Alexander Kurenkov: Will do.

Vladimir Putin: This year, the average temperature on the planet reached 17.24 C degrees for the first time. This broke the record of 2016, when it was 16.9. Fires are breaking out everywhere, and unfortunately, we have them here, too. Fires on one side and floods on the other.

Mr Kurenkov, how is the response effort going in this area?

Alexander Kurenkov: Mr President,

Since the beginning of the year, over 11,000 wildfires have been recorded in the Russian Federation affecting a total area of over 4 million hectares. With a slight increase in the number of fires, the area effected by them this year exceeds last year’s figures by almost one and a half times.

According to Aerial Forest Protection Service, today there are 169 forest fires burning across the country with more than 330,000 hectares affected. Of these, 30 outbreaks, or only 17 percent, have been contained. At the same time, five forest fires on an area of 308 hectares broke out within five kilometres of settlements. Over the past 24 hours, 31 fires broke out affecting an area of over 900 hectares. At the same time, 125 fires were extinguished on a total area of more than 250,000 hectares.

Mr President,

The Government Commission on Emergency Prevention, Response and Fire Safety has declared the situation in the forests of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), the Khabarovsk Territory and the Amur Region an interregional emergency. The forecast for developments remains unfavourable.

The forces and means of the Russian Emergencies Ministry are involved in protecting settlements from the spreading fire. The Emergencies Ministry is also using its aviation capacity. Over the past 24 hours, six aircraft have been used to extinguish wildfires and relocate crews.

In the Nadym district of the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Area, a Be-200 aircraft made 30 discharges and dropped 117 tonnes of water. In total, since the beginning of the wildfire season, Emergencies Ministry’s planes have made more than 1,900 sorties, transported over 5,000 people and more than 4,000 tonnes of cargo, and made over 3,000 discharges of water exceeding 23,000 tonnes.

Now for the situation with floods.

Since the beginning of August, as a result of heavy precipitation, there have been significant rises in water levels in the rivers of the Far East. The most difficult situation has developed in the Primorye Territory, where residential buildings, household plots and roads were in the flood zone, and transport links and power supply were disrupted in 71 settlements. Today, the water level in most settlements is decreasing.

In the past 24 hours, 2,378 residential buildings, almost 2,500 household land plots and five sections of roads have been relieved from water. In 18 settlements, 567 houses and 754 household plots, as well as 19 sections of roads remain flooded. Work is underway to restore power supply in three municipalities.

(The Minister further provided specific data on the Emergencies Ministry’s efforts to evacuate people from flooded areas and to deliver water and food, heat guns, generators and motor pumps to flooded settlements. He also talked about continuous monitoring of the situation with floods using the Ministry’s Mi-8 helicopter and unmanned aircraft systems. The Minister said that 552 people, 194 pieces of equipment and 44 watercraft, including 332 people, 63 pieces of equipment and 34 watercraft from the Emergencies Ministry, were involved in the flood response.)

Preparations for the new academic year are under special control. Despite the fact that temporary shelters have been deployed at some schools in the Primorye Territory, all necessary measures are being taken to open schools on time by September 1.

Mr President,

Floods have also been observed in the Lugansk People’s Republic, the Republic of Buryatia and the Irkutsk Region. Today, ten summer houses and 194 household land plots are flooded in those regions. Work on monitoring the flood situation and relieving the consequences in the flooded areas continues; the situation is being supervised by the Emergencies Ministry.

This concludes my report. Thank you for your attention.

Vladimir Putin: Does the Ministry need any additional assistance?

Alexander Kurenkov: Mr President, the Ministry does not need it at this time. I believe the Primorye Territory will need financial aid. There are quite a few victims of the disaster. I talked with the Governor and they will need it.

Vladimir Putin: Ok then, you and the Governor formulate the request please, go through all the necessary formalities. It is clear what should be done in such cases and we need to do it as soon as possible.

Alexander Kurenkov: Yes, Mr President.

The next typhoon is already approaching those areas that were affected after the Far Eastern Forum last year; it is headed towards the same areas, and we are already working on warnings. The load will be a little lighter than last year, but the work is underway.

Vladimir Putin: No time to relax. It is not clear right now if it is lighter or heavier. It is clear that there is a forecast, but we still need to carefully monitor the situation.

Alexander Kurenkov: Exactly.

Vladimir Putin: We have hot weather not only in the European part of the country, but also in Siberia: it is +35C degrees in many regions. Mr Kozlov, what is the forecast?

Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Alexander Kozlov: Good afternoon, Mr President, Mr Prime Minister, colleagues.

The phenomena of weather extremes is increasing every year, and records are being broken around the world almost every month. There was abnormal heat in Krasnoyarsk in July, and drought in the Volga Region and Siberia, and this is not the end of it.

The forecast through the end of August shows extreme heat in 11 regions: Kalmykia, the Stavropol Territory, the Krasnodar Territory, the Rostov Region, Astrakhan, Ryazan and all regions in the Black Earth belt. In addition to the heat, this summer was marked by typhoons and pouring rains that flooded the Irkutsk Region, the Krasnodar Territory, Crimea, and the Primorye Territory a week ago, as my colleague reported.

And what would I like to say? Since the beginning of the year, 544 dangerous hydrometeorological phenomena have been recorded in Russia alone. Last year, there were 438 of them during the same period, and most of these dangerous phenomena have been predicted accurately: over 96 percent of warnings given by Roshydromet were accurate.

Weather conditions that go from one extreme to another are caused by global climate change. Incidentally, Russian academician Mikhail Budyko was among the first to predict this in the 1970s. Over the past 50 years, each decade has been warmer than the previous one. This is due to the fast build-up in the atmosphere of greenhouse gases emitted by human activity.

For example, the concentration of carbon dioxide alone has climbed 50 percent over the past 200 years and in combination with other gasses this has led to increases in the average global temperature by 1.15 degrees. People will not really notice this in daily life, but of course, this brings about serious changes in the life of the planet, like heat waves, alternating periods of abundant and scarce precipitation and the rising of global sea levels, which, according to statistics, has risen by 9 centimetres over the past 30 years.

Global temperatures will continue to rise, at least, until the middle of this century. Even with all taps turned off and manufacturing suspended, global warming will continue because the climate system is inertial.

The international academic community says it is highly likely that there will be more tropical cyclones and hurricanes. The situation with floods in South Asia, Southeast Asia, Europe and South America will be worsening. Some island states, particularly in the Pacific and Indian oceans, and in the Caribbean, are threatened with complete submersion. Droughts and water shortages will be an increasingly common phenomena in the Mediterranean, Central Asia, America and Africa.

Scientists forecast that in Russia, the river run-off in Siberia and the Far East will be increasing while in the south, including the entire Don River catchment area, on the contrary, the stream flow will be depleting. For example, water shortages in Kalmykia will become worse.

Permafrost occupies two-thirds of our country. Certainly, global warming will be affecting it, putting at risk buildings, utility lines and people’s comfort. Mr President, in keeping with your instructions, this year we have launched a state-run background system for monitoring permafrost to understand what is going on beneath the surface and try to preclude the likely implications for social and economic infrastructure. In the next three years, we plan to build 140 monitoring stations across the country, which will supply data to scientists for analysis.

Still, I would like to say that our country is better positioned than other countries. Our advantage is the large territory and the diversity of climatic conditions. For instance, in agriculture, it will be possible to use late-ripening varieties of produce that yield a good harvest, and it will be easier to deliver food and goods to the areas in the extreme North.

Mr President, what’s happening to the climate now and what will happen in the next decades is inevitable. No matter how hard humanity tries to decrease the volume of greenhouse gas emissions, these actions will only influence the climate in the second half of the century, which is very important for the generations to come but completely insufficient for the population now. Today, measures are needed to adapt all spheres of economic activity.

Our scientific and research institutes, such as Roshydromet Main Geophysical Observatory and the RAS Institute of Computational Mathematics are already running climate change scenarios for each region. This information needs to be introduced into the planning of construction and repairs of various facilities.

Knowing about potential floods, we can build dams or make decisions to relocate people permanently and think about building flood control channels when preparing for a drought. For example, under Mr Mishustin’s instructions, we are already carrying out a construction and technical expert evaluation in Kalmykia. So, we will begin construction right after we finish this.

We are predicting the thawing of the permafrost, and it will be necessary to strengthen underground lines and connections. According to the Ministry of Economic Development, as of July, only 59 regions have approved their adaptation plans. This is exactly the document under which, I believe, it is possible to respond and quickly get ahead of these events.

The dialogue between science and government is the foundation of the Federal Scientific and Technical Programme on environmental development and climate change. Last year, under your instruction issued at the Council for Science and Education, we started implementing an innovative project of national importance, called the Unified National Monitoring System for Climatically Active Substances.

One of its key objectives, but not the only one, is to obtain reliable data for making climate forecasts and for defending Russia’s position, including in international climate disputes, because climate apprehension can only be dealt with through balanced and conscientious behaviour.

For example, today, scientists have already made initial measurements of methane concentration, improved methods for monitoring ozone using Russian satellites, and much more.

Mr President, thank you for your attention. My report is over.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you.

I think that, of course, we should keep in mind what the Minister has just said. Of course, we need to think about the next generations, but we need to adapt to today’s inevitable changes. I support what the Minister said, Mr Kozlov is right: we must consider this in our construction plans, during repair work, and so on, in our everyday lives.

Remembering normal life, let's not forget that September 1 is the beginning of the academic year. We have some changes in this area, including returning the status of educational establishments to sports schools. This means that everyone who works in this sphere should be properly provided with appropriate salaries as teachers, and this includes salary increases, longer vacation, simplified attestation procedure, and so on. This is quite a big job.

Mr Chernyshenko, are we ready for this?

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko: Mr President,

Some positive news. Russian athletes took first place in the unofficial team standings at the second CIS Games, which, as you remember, were supported by the CIS Heads of State Council at your initiative. The first Games were held in Kazan in 2021, and Belarus hosted the second Games this year. They ended recently in Minsk on August 14. Four thousand athletes from nine CIS countries and 13 friendly countries participated in the Games.

A total of 246 sets of medals were awarded. Our athletes, there were 408 of them from 63 regions, won 288 medals, including 149 gold in 17 sports. This is a great result. And already this weekend, on August 19, the International University Sports Festival will kick off in Yekaterinburg, in which teams from 36 countries, including the SCO, BRICS and CIS, will take part. So, we can say with confidence that international sports life continues, and Russian athletes maintain their competitive activity. Moreover, they are achieving results at world championship levels.

I will now turn to my report.

Mr President, as a result of your decisions at the Sports Council meeting, amendments were made to the federal legislation on physical culture, sport and education, which are aimed at harmonisation. They will come into force, as you said, on September 1. And this harmonisation, as you mentioned, solves several problems at once. First, of course, coaches will receive completely new status as pedagogical staff with appropriate social guarantees: salary increases, longer vacation, simplified certification procedure. But the most important thing is that athletes will get more comfortable conditions for classes and training. Accordingly, we will see more efficiency.

To this end, the regulatory and legal framework is being improved: 193 regulatory legal acts and 153 orders have been approved. There was a lot of bureaucracy, and it took a lot of time. Now a unified information system for managing sports schools is being developed, it is being “merged” into GIS Physical Culture and Sport, which we have successfully launched. The Government is now completing this work with the regions.

At the Prime Minister’s instruction, we have set up a digital support system for the regions at our coordination centre to involve representatives of all departments, and some from the Russian Popular Front. This has allowed us to obtain information on every sports school, coach and teacher, as well as students. I would like to thank all my colleagues, both in the Presidential Executive Office and in the regions, for such well-coordinated efforts.

What matters is that we have implemented this licensing processes to evaluate the entire youth sports system. We have information on every school: currently, there are 5,005 organisations actually operating, with a total of 52,403 sports facilities attached to them. These organisations train 3.2 million athletes and have 96,307 coaches. The latter have already been reassigned to coaching teacher positions or work part-time. A total of 4,263 organisations have already obtained permanent licenses. This work will be completed by August 30, it’s under the supervision of the Ministry of Sport and the regional governors.

(The Deputy Prime Minister also spoke extensively about the licensing work, saying it will be completed by August 30. Meanwhile, 136 organisations in the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics, as well as the Zaporozhye and Kherson regions, will continue to operate under temporary licenses until January 1, 2026.)

Mr President, your instructions on licensing organisations will be completed on schedule, by September 1. As regards sports facilities under reconstruction, they will be put back to use upon completion of the works.

We are keeping this issue under control.

This concludes my report.

Vladimir Putin: Mr Chernyshenko, we have talked a lot about this, saying we obviously need to engage an even greater number of citizens in physical activities and sports. Importantly, the numbers are constantly growing in our country – yet, there is always room for improvement and objectives to strive for.

I ask you, as the person responsible in the Government for this sector, to always keep this in mind. But obviously, we can achieve this only through a joint effort, together with the regions. The work is underway; we just need to focus on it.

As regards sports schools, I believe we are on the right track for development. This is what those working in this sector have repeatedly asked us for at different levels. We assume that our joint efforts have resulted in the solutions that you just reported on. We now need to accomplish this for the law to take full effect.

As to competing in international events, I would like to thank you and everyone involved, the Ministry of Sport, for the efforts to organise such competitions, which are becoming increasingly widespread.

Unfortunately, as a result of international sports organisations being politicised and the continuing commercialisation of the international Olympic movement, we have noted a degree of degradation. But it will inevitably lead to creating parallel entities in international sports. And we must create proper conditions for our athletes, including their remuneration, bonuses, grants and so on. Their compensation should be comparable to what our top athletes used to earn when successfully competing in the Olympic Games, world championships and so on. It should be considered that for people who have dedicated their entire lives to sports, it is also important. Material support is as important as prestige.

Please think about it and discuss it with the Prime Minister. It is not that much money, but for high-performance athletes, it is still significant support.

There are a few more issues. Why do we keep talking about physical fitness and mass sports? Because it helps people stay healthy and affects how they feel, how they perform at work and so on. We are aware of the positive effects our efforts have in this field.

There is also another equally important aspect: nutrition. A nutritious diet includes, among other things, seafood. In 2022, the fish consumption rate stood at 22.6 kg per capita while the Ministry of Health recommends 28 kg per capita.

Mr Shestakov, what prevents us from achieving the recommended goal?

Head of the Federal Agency for Fishery Ilya Shestakov: Mr President, we do everything in our power. In general, I want to note that the Russian fishing industry is stable. The production rate is growing across the major commercial fishing regions. The good news is that production is also growing outside the Russian economic zone, despite unfriendly actions of certain countries.

Mr President, since the beginning of the year, Russian fisheries have delivered more than 3.5 million tonnes of fish, which is 13 percent higher than last year.

I would like to note that certain unfriendly countries are doing themselves a disservice by banning our fishing vessels, operating in convention-regulated waters, from calling at their ports or receiving maintenance. As a result, the facilities that used to provide maintenance services to the Russian fleet now suffer significant financial losses, and many are on the verge of bankruptcy.

This situation confirmed the importance of boosting and modernising domestic ship maintenance facilities and creating our own competences. Fleet maintenance is currently one of our greatest challenges. Fishing functionaries are already dealing with shipbuilding issues and even have to address ship maintenance.

We have been discussing this issue with the Ministry of Industry and Trade, but the matter requires a comprehensive approach and coordinated activity of all involved ministries and agencies because, clearly, the fishing fleet requires maintenance.

I would like to say that Russian fishing companies have been demonstrating robust results. Overall, we have been able to more than double our aquaculture output in the past ten years, with as much as 230,000 tonnes in the first six months of this year, and expect annual growth to be equal to five percent.

We are also continuing to increase fish exports by supplying 80 countries. In the first six months, exports were about 1.2 million tonnes, up 2.5 percent year-on-year.

Mr President, the salmon fishing season is now underway, which has a major bearing for the regions in Russia’s Far East in socioeconomic terms, as well as for Russian consumers in general.

I would like to report that the fishing season has been a success so far. According to the latest data, as of yesterday the catch has already reached 528,000 tonnes, which is three times more than in 2022. And I have to note that this will be the second largest salmon catch on record. We had 676,000 tonnes in 2018, and expect to have 600,000 tonnes this year.

Of course, this means a higher burden for transport and logistics infrastructure. Every year, fish shipping costs from Russia’s Far East to other regions around the country go up during the catch season. Several factors lead to higher costs, including port tariffs and the fact that railway operators introduce seasonal price hikes.

We keep a close eye on this situation and have filed a request with Russia’s Federal Anti-Monopoly Service asking it to look into the price formation for transport services by rail and sea, including price fluctuations before and during the salmon catch season in Russia’s Far East. We believe that there is potential for avoiding excessive spikes in shipping costs during peak season.

I must also mention the ongoing programme to subsidise shipments of essential fish products by rail, even if so far it covers only pollack shipments. But the results are already there – pollack deliveries to central Russia has doubled over the past year.

We suggest including humpback salmon in this programme, since this is the most popular kind of salmon from the Pacific Ocean and its price is quite reasonable. We have already caught 460,000 tonnes of humpback salmon this year. It is used in products targeting the domestic market and is quite popular among consumers. We believe that subsidised tariffs will make it more affordable and will also help fill the order books for processing plants in other regions of Russia.

In order to saturate the domestic market with affordable and quality fish products we also need to keep up our efforts to remove logistics bottlenecks, including by creating additional refrigerating capabilities.

During this year’s second stage of investment quota distribution, which has already started, six logistics centres will be built within the boundaries of seaports: four centres in the Russian Far East and two in the northern regions. These facilities will provide quality storage spaces to fishing companies so that the companies can subsequently distribute their products as scheduled.

Also, I would like to elaborate on the industry’s modernisation. As part of the first stage of the investment quota distribution, 105 modern fishing and crab fishing vessels and 27 fish processing plants are under construction, as is planned. Twenty-five fish processing plants and 18 vessels have been finished to date.

The modern fleet operating in our waters has earned a great reputation and provides high standards of fishing safety and processing efficiency.

Several bylaws have been released regulating the second stage of the investment quota programme and crab auctions. As I said, the auctions will be held this year.

We expect that the crab auctions will bring at least 340 billion rubles in budget revenue and stimulate infrastructure development projects worth about 300 billion rubles, including further processing facility upgrades and the modernisation of the fishing fleet and infrastructure facilities, as I said. We went further and decided to also stimulate the development of the transportation fleet for delivering fish from remote fishing regions.

After completing the second stage of the reform, we will be able to create capacities for processing up to 80 percent of the catch and abandon the raw-materials-based model in the fishing industry.

Mr President, finally, I must tell you that, for the reasons we all know, fishing crews in the Azov Sea and Black Sea are experiencing operation difficulties. We consider it important to support them in order to preserve jobs and help fishing companies to stay afloat. The required aid is small, about 220 million rubles for next year. We need your support.

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: All right.

But, as far as I understand, there are problems with delivering fish, and not only from the Far East. Unfortunately, not all products that are stored in Murmansk can be delivered although this route seems more convenient for supplies to the European part of Russia.

What issues do you see there?

Ilya Shestakov: Mr President, overall there are no problems with delivery. We are coordinating our work with Russian Railways. Rail carriages are provided as required.

However, there are certain tariff setting issues, because during peak seasons, the reverse trips from Central Russia are underloaded, making the tariff unsustainable. The tariff should be sustainable throughout the year to make it possible to promptly supply additional capacities for delivering fish from the Far East. The tariff should be reviewed, if possible.

Of course, subsidies are always a good thing. They help lower the final price for cheaper types of fish.

Vladimir Putin: We have just mentioned the Far East. Of course, the Far East is the absolute leader in this industry.

Mr Solodov, what do you think about the situation in Kamchatka in general?

Governor of the Kamchatka Territory Vladimir Solodov: Mr President, first of all, I want to confirm the review made by Mr Shestakov. It is true, this year’s salmon fishing season was extremely successful. The catch this year was four times what it was in 2022.

And I want to note that the Kamchatka Territory accounts for 90 percent of the total salmon production in the Russian Far East. We have managed to achieve stable high production in recent years by developing a balanced fishery management system, taking systemwide measures against persistently growing poaching, and also thanks to massive investment in coastal production facilities.

I want to quote some figures specifically with respect to Kamchatka. Over the past five years, the industry has received 95 billion rubles in private investment. I want to stress that the recently launched processing facilities result in no waste and process 100 percent of raw materials.

Long-term fishery rights regulation principles play a significant role in developing the fishing industry in Russia, in particular, salmon fishing, which is closely linked with coastal towns and onshore processing.

I want to thank you, Mr President, for supporting this approach. The recent amendments to the federal law on fisheries granted long-term fishing rights to those fishing businesses that are willing to take social responsibility.

Now, the Government is to adopt corresponding bylaws. Practical implementation of the mechanisms prescribed in the law – and, therefore, the stability of the regional economy, maintaining jobs and even the quality of life in remote Kamchatka towns – depend on the quality of these bylaws.

With that said, I would like to ask you to instruct the Government to more actively engage us, representatives of coastal regions, in developing the relevant regulations.

Allow me to propose a few things. I would like to get back to the issue you raised concerning domestic fish consumption. Unfortunately, the fact is that per capita consumption has been in decline in recent years.

We cited the official figures from the Russian Statistics Service. According to industry experts, the actual figures are substantially lower, about 50 percent of amount recommended by the Ministry of Health.

The decline in consumption is particularly evident among young people. According to the National Public Opinion Centre, only half of young people eat fish at least once a month. This figure has dropped by 150 percent in the past five years.

In this regard, Mr President, I want to propose an initiative to develop and carry out a comprehensive state programme to promote the consumption of fish products, which can complement the mechanisms Mr Shestakov spoke about.

(The governor’s proposals include, in particular, such measures as limiting purchases of foreign fish in the low-price sector, measures to promote production of end products and an awareness raising campaign.)

Also, I believe it is necessary to continue the constant development of the system of alternate routes. As per your instructions, Mr President, together with Rosatom and the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East, we have made the Northern Sea Route a mechanism to transport fish from Kamchatka over the past three years. This year, the light carrier Sevmorput yet again departed carrying Kamchatka fish; there will be two such voyages this year.

We can say that cargo shipment along the Northern Sea Route is currently competitive and sough-after, but its total share is only 1 percent of the Kamchatka products. In this regard I suggest that vessels with a bigger capacity – over 1,000 containers – should be used on the route. It would help to significantly increase the volume of fish delivery and improve the regularity of shipments. With your support, we are ready to work on this with Rosatom and the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East.

And one last thing, Mr President, if you don’t mind. I want to emphasise that traditionally, the fisheries sector has been a foundation for the development of both economy and social sphere of the coastal regions and remote communities. Last year, at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, you instructed us to take this aspect into account at the second stage of investment quotas, in particular, when holding crab auctions. Investments should go, among other areas, to the social infrastructure of coastal communities. But there are currently no bylaws that include social facilities.

Naturally, it is important, in my opinion, that providing access to crab fishing would give a boost not only to production, but also the social sphere and economy of coastal regions. In this regard, I would like to ask you to give instructions to adjust the relevant governmental acts to take into account our proposals and the instructions you issued at the Eastern Economic Forum.

Thank you for your attention and for supporting the fisheries industry.

Vladimir Putin: Yes, we can and definitely should think about creating a system of measures to promote the domestic consumption of fish. You are right. And what agencies, do you think, should be involved in developing these measures?

Vladimir Solodov: Mr President, we will work on that together with the Federal Agency for Fishery. It is also important to involve the business community. We have the Fish Union, social activists, and the Association of Restaurateurs of Russia. All of us are ready to submit proposals to the Government.

Vladimir Putin: No, I mean, in the Government who could become the key managing agency?

Vladimir Solodov: We are ready to work under the auspices of the Federal Agency for Fishery.

Vladimir Putin: Good.

Mr Patrushev, can you hear our dialogue with the governor?

Agriculture Minister Dmitry Patrushev: Yes, Mr President, we can and we will do everything necessary to increase the consumption of fish. We will need to work on this.

Vladimir Putin: Then as a key body, a key ministry, you will organise this work to prepare a set of measures to encourage domestic consumption of fish products.

It is agreed, all right?

Dmitry Patrushev: Agreed.

Vladimir Putin: As for the social infrastructure, of course, it needs to be developed. But when we talk about fish quotas and quotas for crab, we have always talked about quotas per keel, that is, we always tried to take these quotas into consideration when building ships.

Of course, I understand that today the production capacities of the shipbuilding industry, especially in terms of the state defence order execution, make it impossible to complete all the orders for the fishing industry’s needs on time and in full. This is understandable, although we need to strive to make it possible. I very much hope that the decisions being made on the proposal of the Government and the Prime Minister to transfer our United Shipbuilding Company practically under the control of VTB will have the desired and expected effect.

To be honest, I am a little concerned that if we pull out this money from the area for which this was designated and transfer these funds to the construction of social infrastructure – though it is very important, of course – it would get lost there. Those goals are important, but they are not the ones that we set as priorities.

We need to think about Mr Solodov’s proposal, because the main thing for these quotas per keel or for crab or fish, is to renew the fleet. As I understand it, these quotas are happily accepted despite the awareness that the industry cannot fulfil them in full, and their fulfilment is postponed until later.

We must make calculations. So, I would like to ask the Prime Minister to look into this as well. We have to calculate. Of course, if the money gets frozen and does not work effectively, perhaps some of it can be allocated for some time to solve the problems of building social infrastructure.

Please, look into this and then report back on your proposals. This also applies to the Agriculture Ministry.

Thank you very much.

I have already mentioned that we must enhance our preparations for September 1. We have a programme for teaching programming to high school students, and this is extremely important, mindful of the industry’s importance for the economy.

Mr Shadayev, how is this work going?

Minister of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media Maksut Shadayev: Good afternoon, Mr President.

Our information technology industry continues to grow rapidly. Last year, sales of Russian IT solutions increased by 22 percent. We still have a need for more human resources, although the industry's talent pool is also growing. The number of employees working in IT companies increased by 13 percent last year; almost 740,000 people are employed in the industry today. Still, we estimate a shortage of software developers at about 500,000–700,000 – we need as many people more to maintain high growth rates. To address the workforce deficit, the Ministry of Digital Development is implementing a range of measures to ensure personnel training. The initiative spans the key age groups, including schoolchildren, university students and adults.

I will start with school-age participants. Last year, we launched the first major project to teach high school students modern programming languages. Any student in grades 8 to 11, with parental consent, was given the opportunity to take programming courses free of charge. To enrol, a student or their parent simply applies through the public services portal. The curriculum of each one-year course is designed to be conveniently combined with the general school curriculum.

Last year we planned to enrol 100,000 students. Mr President, we had 130,000 applications, and we enrolled everyone who applied. In other words, demand exceeded supply by 30 percent.

Next. The programme offered two options. Participants could study offline, that is conventionally attending classes at modern computer labs in person, or they could use online educational platforms, which are especially important in rural areas that lack the relevant infrastructure. Approximately 50,000 of our students took the offline course, while 80,000 chose to do it from home, via videoconference.

On July 26, we opened enrolment for the 2023/24 academic year. This year, students from colleges and technical schools (vocational programmes) are also being admitted. The plan for 2023 is to enrol 140,000 participants. I would like to take this opportunity to encourage everyone who is interested in learning a digital profession to step up their enrolment.

Mr President,

We have had all schools connected to high-speed internet, including 45,354 schools with a fibre-optic connection and only 602 schools with satellite access.

Fast internet has been brought to all schools. Of course, there are some issues with setting up and maintaining equipment on the user end. We monitor the situation with the Russian Popular Front and together with the Ministry of Education we develop proposals on organising technical support and IT training for schoolteachers.

As of late 2022, as many as 300,000 teachers actively used digital educational content directly in the classroom. This became possible thanks to a Wi-Fi connection having been set up in 9,000 schools. So, not only has the internet been brought to every school, it has been brought to every classroom. Now teachers can easily connect their laptops or tablets and show educational content directly in class.

We also pay special attention to higher education for IT professionals. Every year, in coordination with the Ministry of Science and Higher Education, we increase quotas for IT students.

Over the past three years, the number of state-funded places in higher education institutions for IT students has been raised from 62,000 to 117,000. Currently, we have around 350,000 future IT professionals undergoing training. It is very important. We have added almost 150,000 by increasing the quotas for tuition-free study.

Also last year, we launched a new initiative called Digital Departments. We created digital departments at 114 higher education institutions selected by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education. The purpose of these digital departments is to offer students an opportunity to obtain an additional specialisation and skills in IT along with their main profession.

Today it is not important whether you plan to become an agricultural worker or to design roads. You cannot be a competitive professional without IT skills. Last year, we had 112,000 students enrolled in the digital departments. It helps us stimulate implementation of digital technology in specific sectors of the economy.

The third category is adults. We also launched a digital skills training programme for them in 2021. Here in Russia, we are successfully developing online educational platforms that offer tuition-based courses in basic skills required for jobs in the digital economy.

Under this programme, we offer discounts to specific categories of applicants.

People with disabilities and people who are officially unemployed or registered with unemployment services can get a 100 percent discount. People with earnings below the regional average and parents of young children can rely on a 50 percent discount. The discount on the tuition fee is applied upon successful completion of a training programme that may take up to a year.

The programme currently has 64,000 graduates and, most importantly, 60 percent of the students who successfully completed their training have managed to increase their income by 75 percent. This re-training and professional development measure has proved to be very effective.

A project implemented by Sberbank, School 21, is a very important initiative to train developers and IT engineers. This school is open to anyone aged 18 and older, regardless of education or unified state exam (EGE) results. The training takes from 18 to 36 months. By now 25,000 people have completed training at School 21. The school has campuses in Moscow, Kazan, Novosibirsk and Surgut. This year we are opening three more campuses in Yakutsk, Veliky Novgorod and Yaroslavl. And, in line with your instructions, more campuses in 12 cities will be opened by the end of 2025. By the end of 2025, the total number of students studying in all campuses will be 25,000, and they all will acquire the necessary skills. As a result, we will get high-level developers, who will then easily find employment in our leading IT companies.

I would like to use this opportunity to thank [CEO and Chairman of the Management Board of Sberbank of Russia] Mr Gref. He covers a significant amount of these costs in order to ensure the retraining and availability of such personnel.

My report is finished. Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much.

Mr Shadayev has mentioned the Ministry’s work with the Russian Popular Front. And how does the Russian Popular Front assess the situation with the internet at schools?

Mr Kuznetsov, please.

Head of the Russian Popular Front Executive Committee Mikhail Kuznetsov: Mr President,

It is true that for three years the Popular Front has been regularly monitoring schools' access to high-quality internet, and it is important to note here that the Government has really done a lot of work, which can be proven by the results of our survey: we have now, in August, interviewed 52,000 school principals and teachers and 7,000 students; 99.9 percent, that is nearly 100 percent, of school principals and teachers confirmed that the schools were connected to the internet. However, the survey revealed that we have several related problems, three of which I would like to elaborate on.

The first is the low signal speed. Internet connection in a third of schools, 31 percent, is not fast enough to watch even low-quality videos. For example, in one of the schools in the Smolensk Region, the internet is not fast enough to download materials for the Talking of What Matters lessons on Mondays. Most likely, this is not about the signal itself, but about the quality of the school equipment, which cannot process the signal at the required speed.

The second problem is system limitations. School principals tell us that certain content restrictions under a contract make it impossible to connect the school's video surveillance network and the accounting programme they use for their internal accounting to the Internet via this channel.

This leads to schools entering into a second contract with another provider in parallel and paying for the Internet twice. At the same time, there is no legal way to pay these funds from the municipal budget, which means that principals pay either from their own funds or from private funds – parents' funds – or additional funds raised.

The third problem – the main one, which we are also discussing with the Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media, Mr Shadayev spoke about it – is related to the spread of the Internet within schools. We have a number of examples where there is only one computer actually connected to the Internet in a school, but in order to get access throughout the entire school, we need to organise a local network.

The problem could have been solved by installing Wi-Fi routers in every school, but not all of them could afford it. According to our data, 35 percent of schools do not have Wi-Fi at all. We have an example from pupils from the Republic of Adygea, from the Jewish Autonomous Region, where teachers have to use their phones as hotspots to provide pupils with Internet access, i.e. they actually open a network to connect to the Internet and all the pupils use it.

Supporting rural schools in particular in terms of installing in-school Wi-Fi would make it possible to increase the availability of educational services Mr Shadayev spoke about, improve the quality of signal, its speed, and even, according to the Ministry of Digital Development, solve the problem of double contracts by connecting the school to the Safe City system.

Mr President, we are in constant dialogue with the Ministry of Digital Development and we will continue to inform our colleagues about any injustices that arise.

My report is finished. Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: What Mr Kuznetsov has just said, especially about the problems that still exist in many schools, is due to the fact that some regions of the country still lack the funds and resources required to create the necessary IT infrastructure. That is why the Ministry of Digital Development together with the Ministry of Finance should definitely think about how to support such regions that lack their own funds. I ask you to do this.

Mr Siluanov.

Finance Minister Anton Siluanov: Yes, I understand, Mr President.

We have the resources to develop IT infrastructure in schools, and they are growing year by year. Together with Mr Shadayev, we will find the necessary money.

Vladimir Putin: I don't think the figures are really off the charts, because we are not talking about all regions of the country, but only about those that need the Government to lend them a hand.

I am sure we all realise how important this is, and I will not go into details here and mention some hard truths. I simply expect you to work and make the relevant proposals as soon as possible.

Thank you very much.


August 16, 2023, The Kremlin, Moscow