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Acting President and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin chaired a meeting of the state commission to prepare for celebrations of St Petersburg's 300th anniversary

January 13, 2000, Smolny Palace, St Petersburg

In his opening remarks, Mr Putin said that the forthcoming anniversary of the city was a good pretext for highlighting Russia’s grandeur. He added that those present should prepare for St Petersburg’s 300th anniversary in such a way as to benefit all of Russia and make this a national holiday.

Mr Putin assured everyone that the government would completely fulfil its commitments and finance all festive events.

St Petersburg Governor Vladimir Yakovlev and Economics Minister Andrei Shapovalyants also addressed the meeting.

Mr Yakovlev said that the city had many rundown federal monuments on the eve of its anniversary. For instance, the Holy Synod, Botanical Garden and Engineer’s Castle were in need of immediate repair.

In this connection, Mr Yakovlev said the forthcoming celebrations should help provide additional investment for the municipal economy. The $31 million sum allocated by the World Bank for St Petersburg was being used to restore the State Academic Capella yards and Block No. 130 of the city’s historical centre. The World Bank, he said, would loan another $269 million in 2000–2001.

Mr Yakovlev said that restoration work was being performed in St Petersburg during preparations for the city’s anniversary, and that the local engineering and transport infrastructure was also being overhauled. He added that a speedway construction project due to begin soon would receive $2 million from the 2000 municipal budget.

Mr Yakovlev suggested that donations from sponsors being spent on preparations for the anniversary should be exempt from taxes. In his opinion, among other things, this would help expedite the construction of the Navy Archive building, whose cornerstone was laid 20 years ago.

Mr Yakovlev also suggested that each ministry restore one historical monument.

He added that funds to finish the construction of flood-prevention facilities would be the best gift the government could give the city.

The Russian government would allocate nearly 896 million roubles for the jubilee preparations in 2000, according to Economics Minister Andrei Shapovalyants.

This money, he said, would be used to restore the city’s historical centre, solve social problems and expand the local manufacturing infrastructure. Moreover, the government was ready to provide 3–4 billion roubles in guarantees for commercial-bank loans, which would be channelled into the St Petersburg economy. Consequently, he said, the city’s tax base would expand, and the additional budgetary revenues would be spent on preparations for the anniversary.

Mr Shapovalyants mentioned the $31 million World Bank loan, which was being used to restore the city’s historical centre, as another source of funding to prepare for the anniversary. He said St Petersburg could take out loans from foreign banks, which had been used quite productively in the past.

Summing up the results of the state commission’s meeting, Mr Putin stressed that the municipal authorities should not merely beg for federal budget allocations, but should look for other opportunities and create incentives for additional foreign investment. The leasing out of transport infrastructure facilities, i.e. roads, bridges and tunnels, under concession agreements could improve the local investment climate, Mr Putin said. However, this would only become possible after the federal law on concessions was approved.

The acting president noted the need to work for including St Petersburg’s 300th anniversary into UNESCO’s 2003 calendar plan.

Mr Putin said that they could now complete all work on time; however, he added, a list of high-priority projects must be compiled so as not to squander the funds.

Those present at the meeting also decided to include Leningrad Region Governor Valery Serdyukov on the state commission.

January 13, 2000, Smolny Palace, St Petersburg