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Meeting with Government members

June 23, 2021, Novo-Ogaryovo, Moscow Region

Vladimir Putin held a meeting with members of the Russian Federation Government via videoconference.

The meeting was attended by Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Anton Vaino, First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov, First Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Sergei Kiriyenko, deputy prime ministers Viktoria Abramchenko, Yury Borisov, Tatyana Golikova, Alexander Novak and Alexei Overchuk, Deputy Prime Minister – Chief of the Government Staff Dmitry Grigorenko, Deputy Prime Minister – Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District Yury Trutnev, Presidential Aide Maxim Oreshkin, Minister of Finance Anton Siluanov, Minister of Civil Defence, Emergencies and Disaster Relief Yevgeny Zinichev, Minister of Defence Sergei Shoigu, Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov, Minister of Healthcare Mikhail Murashko, Minister of Science and Higher Education Valery Falkov, Minister of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media Maksut Shadayev, Chairman of the Accounts Chamber Alexei Kudrin, Head of the Republic of Crimea Sergei Aksyonov, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, and Head of the Federal Service for the Oversight of Consumer Protection and Welfare (Rospotrebnadzor) – Chief State Sanitary Physician Anna Popova.

* * *

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues.

Today, we will discuss the introduction of new special investment contracts. We will talk about it in more detail. This is a good mechanism, and we have already been using it for several years. After one of the St Petersburg Economic Forums, I believe in 2017, we agreed to update this mechanism and see how it works. Now we are launching it again. But let me repeat that we will talk more about this a bit later.

I would like to start with the most pressing issues now.

We know that in several regions of the Russian Federation – Minister Yevgeny Zinichev reported to me about it – there is still a difficult situation with floods and fires. One such situation emerged recently in Crimea. I asked the Emergencies Ministry to strengthen its group there and also instructed the Defence Ministry and other authorities to join in these efforts.

Let us start with this and see how it is going.

(Minister for Civil Defence, Emergencies and Natural Disasters Relief, Yevgeny Zinichev, reported on the Crimean post-flood situation. On June 16–19, 18 socially significant facilities, over 350 residential buildings and 400 private plots of land were inundated following torrential rain. Over 60,000 people were affected by electricity cuts and by disrupted gas and water supplies. In all, 54 people were injured; of this number, six had to be taken to hospital. One person was killed. Over 1,700 people, including 325 children, were evacuated. Over 2,500 people and 300 pieces of equipment are involved in the emergency cleanup operations, and there are plans to complete the main efforts by June 28.

In addition to this, the Minister reported on the developments with the flash floods in the Far Eastern Federal District where a rather tense situation has taken shape. Since early June, over 560 residential buildings have been inundated in Trans-Baikal Territory and Amur Region, due to torrential rain. In all, 24 bridges and 45 sections of motorways were damaged. Although the situation in Trans-Baikal Territory is now stabilising, the flash flood is now shifting downstream together with the Amur River. To minimise post-flood damage, workers are filling and building dams to protect communities and are evacuating people from flood-prone areas. According to the Minister, the authorities are monitoring the floods in the Far Eastern Federal District. Members of the Government Commission for Preventing and Eliminating Emergency Situations and Ensuring Fire Safety reviewed developments today.)

Vladimir Putin: Do you need any additional assistance from other departments in the Far Eastern regions right now?

Yevgeny Zinichev: We reviewed these matters at a meeting of the government commission today, and we will get them involved as part of the government commission’s activities, if need be, or ask you for help.

Vladimir Putin: Good. Thank you.

Mr Shoigu, what did you manage to accomplish?

Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu: Mr President, in accordance with your instruction, the Defence Ministry has formed a group of forces, which immediately started working. The group consists of 21,600 servicemen, and 1,367 units of equipment from the Southern Military District and the Airborne Forces. A headquarters has been deployed at the command post of the Black Sea Fleet to coordinate the activities of the engaged forces and to monitor the implementation of the assigned tasks. Interaction has been established with the Emergencies Ministry, the Interior Ministry, the Crimean government, the Healthcare Ministry, the National Guard and Rospotrebnadzor.

Work is underway in 36 communities that were hardest hit by the floods; 122 kilometres of roadways, 23,000 square metres of facades, 54,000 square metres of courtyard grounds, including 16,000 square metres of socially significant sites, four schools, five kindergartens, and three hospitals have been cleared of debris, with 51 kilometres of water conduits, gutters and drainage canals restored and cleaned. Over 3,000 cubic metres of debris have been removed, and the beds of two rivers were cleaned out.

The locals were provided with over 320 cubic metres of drinking water; we helped remove damaged property from 223 houses.

The 637th Centre for State Sanitary and Epidemiological Oversight of the Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol and two mobile sanitary and epidemiological groups in Yalta and Kerch are monitoring the implementation of the anti-epidemic measures.

A mobile field laboratory with PCR testing capability and two dedicated mobile biological complex modules, which make it possible to trace particularly dangerous infectious disease agents, including the novel coronavirus, as well as two aerosol disinfection complexes have been prepared for deployment.

Ten doctor-nurse teams and nine mobile medical posts are involved in providing medical help to the people in the region. Military hospitals have set aside 350 beds, 100 of which are in an infectious ward. The necessary stock of medical supplies and equipment has been created based on expectations of 1,000 admissions.

We are on track to meet our planned goals. We will complete the bulk of the work in Kerch today, in Yalta tomorrow, and in other communities on June 27.

Round-the-clock direct telephone lines have been set up at the National Defence Control Centre, the headquarters of the Southern Military District and the Black Sea Fleet in order to promptly respond to calls for help from the affected Crimean regions. A total of 1,592 such calls have been received to date, with 367 of them coming in the last 24 hours. All of them have been acted upon, and first responders and equipment have been sent everywhere. Everything is under control.

If necessary, manpower and resources will be redistributed to deal with other tasks, which may include the disposal of animal corpses, cleaning silt deposits out of basements, as well as targeted actions at the request of individuals, organisations and authorities.

We now have the necessary stock of industrial heaters to dry basements of residential and administrative buildings.

A headquarters has been created for coordination purposes. Deputy Defence Minister Bulgakov is in charge of the headquarters on the ground.

This concludes my report.

Vladimir Putin: Good. Thank you very much.

Ms Golikova, what is the overall situation on the peninsula following the flood, primarily, the sanitary and epidemiological situation, bearing in mind that many of our citizens are now vacationing in Crimea?

(In her remarks, Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova spoke about the round-the-clock monitoring of the sanitary and epidemiological situation in flooded areas and the full range of sanitary and anti-epidemic measures in the region, as well as the situation with COVID-19 cases. Children’s institutions, retail outlets and beaches in the flooded area had been temporarily closed. Residential buildings, adjacent grounds and flooded areas are being disinfected. The situation is under tight control. The head of the Republic of Crimea Sergei Aksyonov added more specifics to her story).

Vladimir Putin: Ms Golikova, what is the overall COVID-related situation in the country?

Tatyana Golikova: During April-May, the epidemiological situation in Russia was stable. Over the past three weeks, we have seen an increase in the number of cases, which picked up pace in the past week. According to the figures at the end of last week, there were 76.2 cases per 100,000 population, which is 29.2 percent higher than during the previous week. The average daily cases increased by 31.2 percent. Moscow accounted for over 47 percent of cases, followed by Moscow Region and St Petersburg.

As of the end of last week, 10 regions had more cases than the national average. We are seeing an increase in cases in all 80 constituent entities, but it ranges from a 2 percent rise upwards.

There are two reasons behind this state of affairs. The first is clear and it is about non-compliance with restrictive measures. Unfortunately, as summer set in and amid a decline in cases, many regions eased the restrictive measures, allowing mass events and weakening their efforts to police the mask mandate. At the same time, as you are aware, a number of regions failed to ensure proper vaccination rates.

Nationwide, on June 21, the ban on entertainment and catering services during night hours was lifted in 27 regions. As a matter of fact, these 27 regions were the first to show an increase in cases.

One more factor that has affected the incidence rate is the number of tests made, that is, the timely identification of new COVID-19 cases and hence, prompt provision of medical care.

The second reason behind the spread of the disease is coronavirus mutations. Acting on your instructions, Rospotrebnadzor has organised the molecular and genetic monitoring of the COVID-19 infectious agents in Russia.

We have created a database called VGARus, or Virus Genome Aggregator of Russia. As of now, it has 7,320 full genome sequences and 5,803 fragmented genome sequences. The isolates identified throughout the country include the British Alpha variant and the Indian strain called Delta. Over the past few weeks, the share of the Delta strain has been increasing and is predominant in some regions of the country.

We continue working with virus genome and new coronavirus strain sequencing, which is important also for comparing our results with those of the international GISAID platform.

(Tatyana Golikova went on to speak about the importance of adopting a number of preventive measures in light of the explosive growth of infection. The priority task is to ensure compliance with the restrictions in this situation, such as dramatically reducing and even banning public events. Secondly, a substantial level of testing must be maintained. And the third task is vaccination and revaccination of those who received the jab or have had COVID-19. As of this moment, 20.7 million people have received the first dose of the vaccine and of these, 16.7 million had both doses. The share of vaccinated people aged over 60 is 24.4 percent of this category of people. Over the past week, the vaccination rate increased by an average of 70 percent across Russia and several times over in 10 Russian regions. The Government regularly discusses all issues of public health, vaccination, the functioning of the healthcare system and the industries concerned with anti-COVID effort; it is taking the necessary measures and, in general, monitoring the situation.)

Vladimir Putin: Ms Golikova, we have agreed with you to expand air traffic with a relatively large number of countries now for the holiday period.

A question – are you discussing the situation with your colleagues in those countries? I know that you are in touch with them, but still, here is a specific question. Suppose Russians go abroad and fall ill, because unfortunately, it is quite possible. We are all aware that in some countries, especially in the southern countries, where the economy is significantly dependent on tourism, to be honest, the objectivity of official COVID statistics is questionable. But let that pass for now, a sad topic. How is this organised? A person travels to one of those countries and falls ill. Last year, in many countries, they were not even taken to local hospitals. What can they do? A person travels, gets sick; a family travels, and one of the family members comes down with the virus while abroad. What do they do, where do they go? Where can they find help? This is my first point.

And the second point, in many countries, local hospitals totally refused to even allow foreigners on their doorstep. Has this changed? Or how do we get these people home? Have you thought about this? What is the situation there?

Tatyana Golikova: Mr President, colleagues,

Before opening air service with certain seaside countries, if I may use this term, and destinations that are most popular with Russian vacationers, Rospotrebnadzor, the Healthcare Ministry and the Federal Tourism Agency held consultations with the sanitary and epidemiological services, and with the authorities responsible for healthcare.

A monitoring mission including representatives of Rospotrebnadzor, the Healthcare Ministry and Rostourism visited Turkey and met with all the entities responsible for overseeing the tourist season. We inspected hotels, the airport, hospitals, we studied how PCR testing was organised, and how patients get delivered to medical institutions. Based on the results of that inspection visit and the coordination of individual approaches, the Emergency Response Centre made the decision to resume air service with the Republic of Turkey.

We have an understanding from the Turkish authorities that the Turkish side will take appropriate action if our citizens fall ill. At the same time, we pointed out to our Turkish colleagues some of the problems we were concerned about. First, our concerns had to do with three-star hotels – their employees need to be tested and those accommodations should comply with the sanitary and epidemiological requirements.

In addition to that, there were simultaneous contacts with the authorities of Greece and Cyprus. We refrained from opening to those countries for quite a while, given that they had a higher number of cases than the Russian Federation. Today, the situation there has more or less stabilised, but we are aware that no country is guaranteed against the spread of COVID-19 or the emergence of new strains. Nevertheless, we are monitoring the situation involving Russian holiday-makers.

It is still too early to say, with Turkey alone available. Other countries will open on June 28, but at the same time we have strongly recommended that Russian citizens should not limit themselves to PCR testing 72 hours before visiting a foreign state. It is mandatory to get at least the first dose of the vaccine of their choice. In this way, they will protect both themselves and their families.

Most countries, to which we are opening, are willing to discuss bilateral agreements on receiving our citizens and on mutual recognition of vaccinations.

Besides, as I have said, our colleagues and ourselves…

Vladimir Putin: For an inoculation to work, it should be administered in good time – at least 20 days in advance.

Tatyana Golikova: That is right. Nevertheless, in the current epidemiological environment, we are recommending our people to get inoculated with at least the first dose. It is difficult, but we insist on this, because even after the first jab – it is clear that everyone has individual characteristics, including from the point of view of producing antibodies – we see that a considerable number of our people (because we already have much experience in using our vaccines) do produce antibodies.

Vladimir Putin: I understand that many countries are not reluctant to accept our citizens for holidays, even though they may come and, God forbid, get sick. But these countries have no obligations towards us. If they want, they provide treatment, but if they do not, no treatment is forthcoming, as I understand it. Neither do we have any idea of what their treatment, to be honest, do we?

Tatyana Golikova: There are no direct obligations, but each country – and we have warned Russian tourists about this – provides information regarding what their requirements are, what measures they take if a person falls ill on their territory, and what he or she should have in their possession. They refer primarily to medical insurance.

Vladimir Putin: I see. So, if a person travels abroad, it is at their own risk and it is their own responsibility.

Tatyana Golikova: Yes, Mr President, it is.

Vladimir Putin: Fine, good.

(Next, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin spoke about the coronavirus situation in Moscow. According to the Mayor, the situation has been unfolding explosively over the past two weeks. Last week showed an unprecedented number of 53,000 new cases, which Moscow did not see either in May 2020, or in late 2020, when cases peaked. Hospitalisation numbers are close to a historical high at 12,000 per week. For two days now, mortality rates are at record highs. The situation is unusual, with people of working age accounting for 77 percent of all new cases. An analysis has shown that about 90 percent of all patients in Moscow are affected by the new Indian strain, aka the Delta variant. In Moscow, it has almost overtaken all other strains. The Moscow Mayor also spoke of restrictions and the mobilisation of the healthcare system; in particular, that 20,000 beds have been mobilised for fighting COVID-19. The city’s compulsory medical insurance system has a little more than 30,000 beds, and an additional 20,000 beds have been made available: some were taken from the existing system, and many more were created from scratch at makeshift hospitals. Of course, the focus is on expediting vaccination rates. In Moscow, over 2 million people have received the first jab, but this is not much compared to 12 million residents. Therefore, Rospotrebnadzor’s head physician for Moscow issued a requirement for mandatory vaccination for service sector employees. It was also decided to limit access to restaurants and cafes for customers without vaccination, who do not have negative PCR tests done within the past three days, or who did not have the coronavirus earlier. Recently, Mr Sobyanin said, vaccination rates have been up, with 60,000 people signing up yesterday alone, which is 10 times more than a couple of weeks ago. This means that increasing the pace and vaccinating a couple of million people a month is quite realistic. If these rates can be maintained, it will be possible to complete mass vaccination which is the only way to protect the public against the onset of a new mutation of this virus.)

Vladimir Putin: Mr Sobyanin, you regularly report to me about what is happening and about the steps you are taking to mitigate the risks for residents in the capital. We will continue a similar arrangement to promptly share information where you will update me on the coronavirus actions you propose taking.

Mr Murashko, are there enough properly equipped beds to treat coronavirus patients nationwide? This is my first question.

My second question is how do the steps to control the pandemic affect the in-depth annual checkup programme which has just begun?

Healthcare Minister Mikhail Murashko: Mr President, Mr Prime Minister, colleagues,

First of all, I would like to say that as of today our medical personnel are monitoring 519,223 confirmed and suspected coronavirus cases. During the past three weeks, the number of patients has doubled, and the largest increase was registered last week.

In the past few days, we have increased the number of available beds for COVID patients by 35,000, and so the current figure is 154,000. As many as 130,000 people are in hospital, and we are adding more beds almost every day to take care of the possible further increase in the number of patients.

(The Minister went on to say that the number of patients receiving medical care at home had increased by 100,000. Nearly 390,000 people are receiving the necessary care at home. As many as 3,800 people are in intensive care, and the number of people on ventilators in intensive care units has increased by 1,000. The overall number of beds with ventilators is 23,000, which is several times more than is currently needed. The provision of medications to those who are receiving treatment at home is being monitored, and additional funding is allocated when necessary. The Government has decided to provide additional funds for medical care under compulsory medical insurance. Mikhail Murashko pointed out that the number of complications from COVID-19 is twice as large as complications from the seasonal flu. Therefore, a programme for a more thorough medical screenings has been worked out for post-COVID patients, in accordance with the President’s instructions and in light of the current epidemiological situation.)

In order to be able to take exhaustive measures to monitor patients in the future, we have decided to create patients’ digital health passports. They will include a list of illnesses and health risks that can have adverse effects on the patients and so should be monitored especially closely by doctors at outpatient clinics. We regard this patient-specific approach as the most promising method.

Vladimir Putin: Additional funds are needed for such screening, as far as I can remember, six billion rubles. Has the money come?

Mikhail Murashko: Quite right, six billion. We have arranged this with the Finance Ministry. Additional funds should be channelled for dealing with bills. We will pay them. But generally the compulsory medical insurance system is under strain from additional patients. For this reason, it is a focus area for us.

Vladimir Putin: As you are in contact with the Finance Ministry, please see to it that the funds arrive on time. Please cooperate with Mr Siluanov to ensure that nothing goes wrong.

Mikhail Murashko: Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much.

(Further on, in answering the President’s questions, Minister of Science and Higher Education Valery Falkov described how in a pandemic environment his Ministry controlled enrolment in higher and secondary education institutions and the ongoing state examination process. He noted that in 2020, universities gained unique experience and drew important lessons from the extreme operating arrangements in a pandemic period. With regard to this experience, they are organising training, final examinations, defence of graduation theses and the admission campaign this year. Despite all the problems, the academic community is succeeding in ensuring a smooth teaching and learning process. They are planning to start the upcoming academic year on September 1, but the final decision on the format in which the academic year should begin will be taken based on the actual situation and expert opinion in August.)

Vladimir Putin: Mr Falkov told us how university work is organised. But I am aware that the Government is offering many new digital services for different fields of life and daily living. So, I would like to ask Mr Shadayev to brief us on this additionally.

(Minister of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media Maksut Shadayev described a new service for university entrants to submit their personal documents, newly introduced online student cards, and a vaccination service. The latter helps to book an online appointment for a vaccination and later receive information on its performance to one’s personal account on the public services website, plus results of PCR tests and eAbstracts of case history. On July 1, his Ministry jointly with the Healthcare Ministry will launch a comprehensive medical screening booking service. The Minister added that social benefits could also be applied for via the services website.)

Vladimir Putin: One of the few, or perhaps the only benefit from living and working amid the coronavirus pandemic, is the worldwide growth in information technology and online services, in Russia included, faster than ever before. Mr Shadayev, I know that you and your colleagues at the Ministry have done a lot to normalise the situation in Russia, so we could live and work normally. Well, maybe not perfectly normally, but in any case, it would make life and work easier while fighting the pandemic. I really do hope that you will continue to promptly respond to the challenges that arise in people's lives and provide them with services that meet the demands of the day.

Thank you very much.

Let's move on to the main issue, which is the launch of an updated programme for special investment contracts. Mr Manturov will report on this score.

Mr Manturov, I would prefer you do not explain what an updated investment contract is now; I will say a few words about it, and that will be enough.

The updated investment contract is about new requirements concerning the need to develop or transfer new technologies to Russia, or develop new competencies for economic actors in Russia. Another novelty is a lower or even zero limit for the investment as well as a longer profits tax grace period, up to 15 years for investments of 50 billion rubles, and up to 20 years for larger amounts. The new programme includes a number of other benefits, such as competitive selection of participants, and so on.

So, I would ask you not to go into this now, but instead tell us exactly what will happen in the near future. Just tell us, please, what each of our colleagues present here at the meeting is expected to do, and those who are not present now, but will somehow be involved in the work on the updated SPICs. Just update everyone on how the work should be structured at this new stage.

Go ahead, please.

Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov: Thank you very much, Mr President. You have set forth the main aspects, reflected in a new version of the Special Investment Contract (SPIC) 2.0. I would just like to recall that about 45 contracts dealing with 11 technologies were signed during the previous period under the SPIC 1.0 document.

The mandatory involvement of the regions is the most important aspect, apart from those you mentioned. The old draft SPIC did not list this as a mandatory condition. Why do this? So that the regions should also be involved, so that they would also feel responsible and would help allot plots of land or comply with other terms regarding local and regional taxes.

In this context, I would like to ask you to issue an instruction: About 20 percent of the Russian regions are not yet covered by regulatory documents enabling them to take part in this work. This is probably all what we need today because all of my colleagues in the Government took an active part; this concerns the Ministry of Energy, the Ministry of Agriculture, other agencies and industry organisations. Now that this goes beyond the processing industry, our colleagues are currently able to become actively involved in this work.

And it appears that the competitive basis is also highly important. Earlier, we signed agreements with applicants only in line with a desire of any company covered by the relevant criteria. Compliance with technologies is the main criterion nowadays. The Government has already approved 630 of them, and over 400 various technologies have been submitted to us for consideration today. Consequently, we will quickly assess the situation together with industry associations, and the Government will also add this to the list. Tenders are the main aspect today.

Four SPICs dealing with small-engine tractors, pumps and units for the oil and gas industry will be signed in the near future. We hope that this will help expand fixed capital investment volumes and will, on the whole, motivate companies to localise their technologies because we are assessing brand-new technologies and the use of patented foreign technologies, so that they are localised in Russia.

The mechanism is extremely popular today, and companies actively bid in tenders. As I have mentioned, we hope that this will expedite the national processing industry’s technological development and modernisation drive.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you.

Colleagues, would you like to ask Mr Manturov any questions?

First of all, everything that we are now discussing concerns the Ministry of Industry and Trade. Nevertheless, various specialised ministries can also become involved in this work with our partners, one way or another.

Any questions? No questions.

All right, good.

In that case, thank you very much, everybody.

Mr Shoigu, I would like to discuss a subject that has nothing to do with our current meeting. The All-Russian Sambo Federation’s officials have asked me to help organise regular Sambo unarmed combat competitions aboard a warship of the Black Sea Fleet. Please help them. I believe that this proposal is worthwhile.

Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu: All right, Mr President, of course, we will help.

Vladimir Putin: Many thanks, everybody.

I wish you all the best.

June 23, 2021, Novo-Ogaryovo, Moscow Region