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Visit to the North Caucasus Federal University

January 25, 2016, Stavropol

Vladimir Putin marked the Students’ Day holiday by visiting the North Caucasus Federal University, where he met with students and staff of southern Russia’s biggest academic and research centre.

The President looked at the university’s latest developments in the high-tech and robotics fields.

Excerpts from transcript of meeting with students at North Caucasus Federal University

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon! I would like to congratulate you on this holiday.

Your colleagues just showed me what you, the students, are working on here. You have a wonderful university, and a very large one – it is 25,000 students, right?

Reply: Yes, with 287 areas of study.

Vladimir Putin: In fact, we have an amazing thing here in Stavropol: the city has 500,000 residents, and more than 100,000 of them are university students. It’s a rare situation.

Studies are underway in a wide range of areas, and you have many foreign students. From how many countries?

Reply: We have 1,200 students from 51 countries. And we have students from 52 of Russia’s federal constituent entities.

Vladimir Putin: It’s quite diverse.

Reply: Yes, and they represent 86 ethnic groups.

Vladimir Putin: What’s most important is for you to obtain a high level of knowledge and use it with the help of your mentors. I hope there is good interaction here between future employers, businesses, and the university itself. It is an exceedingly important matter, without which it is very hard for a future professional to achieve success. Best of luck!


Vasily Sadovoy: I am the chairman of the NCFU student athletic club, which is a member of the student athletic clubs’ association of Russia. Our women’s handball and basketball teams are performing very well.

Vladimir Putin: The students have begun playing football as well, I believe.

Vasily Sadovoy: Yes, we entered the national student football league this year.

NCFU students form the foundation of Russia’s national team in the Shotokan Karate martial art. By the way, in December, the team returned victorious from the European championship held in London.

There could be more of such achievements; however, the sports infrastructure at our university and in the North Caucasus Federal District is underdeveloped. Would it be possible to build athletic facilities, gyms, and swimming pools in the near future, both at our university and in other high education institutions in the North Caucasus Federal District?

Mr President, our students simply dream of having their own university stadium.

Vladimir Putin: Clearly, one of the main directions is developing social life and student sport. You know that a couple years ago, I actively supported the idea of creating student clubs. And we host a whole set of events in the Russian regions within the framework of the state programme run by the Sports Ministry. The Education and Science Ministry also has a corresponding programme. I will talk with both programme managers and see what can be done for your university.

Lena Livenskaya: Mr President, how did you like our robots? Did you see them already?

Vladimir Putin: Great job. I just saw them. Robotics is certainly one of the most promising areas both for our economy and the defence sector. You know that right now, many leading armies of the world are switching to ground and air vehicles that have no live operator, no pilot or tank crewperson. This is a very promising direction. There is even an opinion that (although it would be better if we did not have conflicts at all) future conflicts will end when one team of robots beats the other. So that people do not have to suffer.

Lena Livenskaya: This area is simply close to my heart. I am a student at the Information Technology and Telecommunications Institute.

We know that pilot children’s science parks are already opening, and we have begun working in this direction at the university. In particular, my Institute teaches robot technology to schoolchildren and university applicants – we do not limit ourselves to areas directly related to robots, but also study genetic engineering, bioengineering and nanotechnologies. This way, we are increasing the popularity of engineering professions: they try it out and want to come to our institute.

The point is that it would be good if such children’s science park were created at our university. We do not have anything like it in the Caucasus, and it would be a pleasure for our students to participate in its creation.

Vladimir Putin: I think this is certainly possible. I will talk with the governor and my colleagues in Moscow. Because, if not here, then where in the North Caucasus region? NCFU is a fundamental university, we could say. It’s a good idea.

Rashad Salkhab: Mr President, my name is Rashad Salkhab, I am a student at the Information Technology and Telecommunications Institute, and I am from Syria.

I still cannot believe that I am standing before you. When I arrived in Stavropol in 2011, our university had 80 foreign students. Today, we have over 1,200 foreign students at NCFU from 51 nations around the world. We are active participants in all student events. Thanks to our participation in all the events, we are learning a lot about Russia, which we cannot help but love. All the foreign students are very grateful to you for the opportunity to study here, and this is especially important for citizens of Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

As you know, our nations are in a complicated situation right now: there is a war on. But we hope that it will end soon thanks to you and your help. We appreciate the opportunity to receive a high-quality education in Russia, which will help us restore the economy in our nations.

Mr President, all the Syrian students sincerely thank you for supporting our Government in the fight against terrorism. Thank you very much.

Vladimir Putin: You know, we are not going to meddle in any way in the state structure, in resolving problems standing before Syria or other nations in the region, which you just mentioned. Our objective is only to help your people, the legitimate leadership of your country – in this case Syria – to fight terrorism, to eliminate terrorism on Syrian soil.

I very much count on you and your colleagues from other nations to use the knowledge you obtain in Russia in the best possible way to restore and rebuild your nation.

Rashad Salkhab: I hope.

Lolita Isrepilova: My name is Lolita Isrepilova. I am the daughter of a war veteran; my father died during his service. My question concerns social protection of children of veterans killed in action as regards education.

You see, at the legislative level, neither the Federal Law on Veterans nor the Federal Law on Education gives the children of veterans killed in action the right to out-of-competition admission to universities. Can this be changed at the legislative level? Especially since I, as a student of the law faculty, have developed a project to amend the Federal Law on Veterans and the Federal Law on Education.

Vladimir Putin: It’s possible. And I suppose we should do it. Of course, we need to look into the details of your suggestions. I know that there are programmes to help children of law enforcement officers killed in action. The programmes are quite extensive. But there are cases that do not fall within the framework of the law enforcement agencies where people should be covered by these programmes. So I am grateful to you for raising this issue. Please give me your suggestions.

Lolita Isrepilova: Thank you.

Bogdan Selenginsky: Bogdan Selenginsky. If I may, a question on human resource development.

Tourism in the North Caucasus is one of priorities, just like hospitality. Thus, within the framework of the Federal Programme, we have already trained 19 instructors; I was among them, studying at the best university in Switzerland and the world, the Glion Institute of Higher Education. But, unfortunately, only the federal universities have all these opportunities for revising programmes and developing bilingual programmes. We wanted to know: can we include service activities in the general education programme, not just engineering?

Vladimir Putin: This is a very special question. It should probably be discussed with the Ministry and the administration. Overall, I have nothing against it. If there is a need for it, if it is in demand and supported by the heads of the corresponding higher education institution, we will certainly support it.

Bogdan Selenginsky: Thank you!


January 25, 2016, Stavropol