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Meeting of Pobeda (Victory) Organising Committee

July 2, 2020, Novo-Ogaryovo, Moscow Region

Vladimir Putin held a meeting, via videoconference, of the Russian Pobeda (Victory) Organising Committee.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues,

Today we are holding a meeting of the Pobeda (Victory) Organising Committee. But before we get down to work, I would like to thank Russian citizens for their support and trust.

I have said many times that it was necessary to adopt amendments to Russia’s basic law, the Constitution. Here we have the improvement of the political system as well as social guarantees, strengthening of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and, finally, our spiritual, historical and moral values that link our generations.

However, we must not forget one more thing: from a historical perspective, it has been only a short time since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and, of course, modern Russia is still taking shape. This is true for all aspects of our life: the political system, the economy, and others. We are still very vulnerable in many ways; a lot, as they say, was done in a hurry. We need internal stability and time to strengthen the country and all its institutions. So thanks again to those who supported the amendments.

At the same time, I understand those who voted against the amendments. We still have a lot of unsolved problems –­ this is true. People often have to face injustice, unkindness and indifference. Many live in difficult conditions. And we, the country’s leadership, often think that we are doing everything possible, but life proves us wrong, life shows that often we are not doing enough and must act faster, more precisely, in a more organised and effective way.

At the same time, the results of the nationwide vote show that most Russian citizens believe that we are capable of working better. And the so-called expanded government, from the municipalities to the President, must do everything to justify the people’s confidence.

I would like to once again sincerely thank all Russians for their support. Thank you.

Colleagues, let’s discuss the subject for which we met today.

We held a meeting in December ahead of the Year of Memory and Glory, and discussed initiatives that were timed for the 75th anniversary of the Great Victory.

As you know, we did not carry out everything we planned but the main, most important holiday of this country took place despite everything.

On the sacred day of May 9 we honoured our veterans, and remembered our family members. On June 24, the anniversary of the legendary Victory Parade, the great-grandchildren of our soldiers-liberators from different counties of the world – our military service personnel and their colleagues from abroad – staged a ceremonial march on Red Square and in the streets of our cities.

I would like to sincerely thank all those who took part in the preparations for and holding of anniversary events, who made proposals and carried out new, meaningful projects primarily addressed to our dear veterans.

And, of course, I would like to thank Russian citizens, members of volunteer associations that helped veterans, people of the older generations during all these difficult months. Such care and involvement were irreplaceable.

It is wonderful that more and more concerned and responsible young people choose to become volunteers and take an active part in the programmes linked with the preservation of memory of the Great Patriotic War. The number of those who take part in the search efforts and take care of military burial sites is growing all the time.

Online campaigns are also gathering a huge audience. Thus, in the Banner-Bearers of Victory project teenagers, children and even school students talk about the lives of their family members during the war or at the home front and tell us about achievements that would have made the victors, the soldiers of the Great Patriotic War feel proud of their successors.

Traditionally, there are many young people among the Immortal Regiment march participants. This year, as they say, in the first iteration, it took place online. The interactive Hero Roster received about 3million veteran profiles, and their names and photos were broadcast for 20 days.

Establishing the honorary title, City of Labour Valour, is a landmark event of this Year of Memory and Glory.

This initiative has received genuine popular support and will make it possible to emphasise in a special way the selfless feat of the home front workers – an unprecedented and heroic achievement in its scale, organisation, willpower and spirit – the evacuation of 25 million people and almost 3,000 enterprises from the frontline areas.

Seen from today, it is amazing how people overcame challenges of inconceivable complexity and worked at the limit of their capabilities. There are many examples when not only workers, but also heads of enterprises and ministers died there, in the mud, as they were relocating and setting up production in a new location. They were able to relocate entire economic sectors thousands of kilometres inland, to launch strategically important industries from scratch in a matter of one to two months, and to create, in fact, a new industrial base that worked to bring Victory closer in a little more than a year.

The federal law establishes the procedure for conferring the City of Labour Valour title. Twenty-eight cities submitted applications to the Pobeda organising committee. Today, we will discuss them and make the first decisions on awarding the honorary title already this anniversary year.

Please note that the people have come up with numerous signatures to support a number of applications, and this must be taken into account. Behind each such signature is a deeply personal attitude to the heroes of the Great Patriotic War and its true history.

The memory that we carefully pass on from generation to generation is the best guarantee that together we will never allow anyone to re-interpret the importance and the outcomes of Victory, diminish the feat of the Soviet people who defended their Motherland, saved the nations of Europe and suffered irreplaceable – not just military – losses.

The war took the lives of millions of civilians: the elderly, children and women. As you are aware, a Memorial to Soviet Soldier was unveiled outside Rzhev two days ago. Before the war, over 56,000 people lived there. Only about 300 were left when the city was liberated. The Nazis just killed the civilians as they were leaving the town.

The Nazis planned to colonise the Soviet land and to kill or turn into slaves and to take away the languages and culture of all who lived here – the Slavs and people of other ethnicities. These crimes of the Nazis and their minions and the genocide against the peoples of the Soviet Union do not have a statute of limitations. This assessment must remain firm in our legislation and in the international law system.

I want our colleagues from the corresponding government agencies to think about it and to constantly work on this, including promoting the principles that are laid down in the constitutional amendments.

Let's move on to our discussion.

Ms Malysheva will take the floor.

Deputy Head of the Executive Directorate of the Year of Memory and Glory for scientific work, honoured archivist of Russia Yelena Malysheva: Thank you, Mr President.

Colleagues, members of the Pobeda Organising Committee,

The labour achievements of our people are indeed one of the most important pages in preserving the historical truth about the Great Patriotic War. Having analysed a great volume of very different historical sources we can say with confidence that about 70 cities can claim this honorary title. As was noted, 28 cities in 23 regions from six federal districts submitted applications with related documents.

During the evaluation of applications, experts studied archive documents at the federal and regional levels and the documented evidence of the facts as envisaged by law.

Based on the results of this work it is possible to say with confidence that all the cities had enterprises that were awarded with orders and red banners of the State Defence Committee. All cities have documented evidence of labour feats. That said, it is important to note that it were women and teenagers who worked at these enterprises, replacing men who went to the frontlines.

Yesterday’s school students beating the target by 150 percent and more was a true labour feat, but for them it was a common thing. Most of them joined the movement of record breakers that united those who outstripped their targets many times over.

The awards given to enterprises that we see, the awards to their workers is an acknowledgement of their selfless labour. The awards were very valuable: in all, during the war, 240 enterprises and a bit over 380,000 workers received them. The 661st team was given the Red Banner of the State Defence Committee permanently.

Another contribution to Victory is the fact that many residents transferred their savings to the Defence Fund. These funds were used to build 2,500 aircraft, thousands of tanks, eight submarines and other weapons. In total, these funds exceeded the Lend-Lease aid many times over.

Based on the work performed, we can now talk about certain leaders and rankings that include the most meritorious cities with the largest number of decorations. Nizhny Novgorod comes first, followed by Yekaterinburg, Samara, Perm, Chelyabinsk, Saratov, Nizhny Tagil, Omsk, Kazan and Novosibirsk. All these cities had a niche of their own in the defence industry, and had no equal in terms of output.

Nizhny Novgorod was one of the biggest multifunctional defence centres accounting for 43 percent of submarines, every third aircraft and every third tank.

Yekaterinburg was the centre of Urals industry, a very important centre that was home to most of the evacuated enterprises. It produced 40 percent of anti-aircraft mounts, 30 percent of artillery mounts and 30 percent of tank engines.

Samara was objectively one of the leading research and production centres of the aircraft industry with 90 percent of attack aircraft coming from that city.

Perm was the only centre for supplying carburettors for aircraft and also the only centre for supplying all kinds of artillery springs and arms shields, without which not a single weapon would fire and no plane would fly.

Chelyabinsk accounted for one-third of the tank output. Every third shell was made of Chelyabinsk steel. Most importantly, Chelyabinsk is the city where 13 types of tanks and six types of diesel tank engines were developed. Already during the war, Chelyabinsk’s status and importance in tank building were recognised by the fact that it was called a tank city.

Saratov produced a unique product – topographic maps – in unparalleled quantities of 900 million pieces. In addition, every third fighter jet was made in Saratov.

Of course, Nizhny Tagil is inseparable from T34 tanks, since half of these machines were produced there. In addition, every third tank was built with armour made in Nizhny Tagil.

Omsk established itself as the centre of aircraft and missile manufacturing. Apart from making planes, Omsk supplied 75 percent of mobile and mini electromeasuring devices.

Kazan is a city where science and manufacturing come together, as demonstrated by the production of the Petlyakov Pe-8 aircraft, a unique flying machine. Most importantly, it was Kazan that managed mass production of the Pe-2 model, making 93 percent of these aircraft.

Novosibirsk was the centre of radio and optical equipment manufacturing that was used in all aircraft and tanks, which makes the city’s contribution to the country’s defence effort hard to underestimate.

Each of these cities acted as a major centre for the defence industry. Of course, they were all based on evacuated enterprises, which helped create flagship industrial sites that contributed to our Victory.

Apart from these industrial centres we would like to draw your attention to Yaroslavl, a city that has not received any awards, but held 17 red challenge banners. Estimates indicate that Yaroslavl made enough tires to equip 800 tank regiments, 14,000 air regiments and 3,500 artillery regiments. Pontoon bridges made in Yaroslavl enabled the Red Army to cross a number of major rivers during its offensive. Moreover, Yaroslavl is also one of the leading centres of steam locomotive manufacturing.

Interestingly, weapons and detachments took their names from cities that sponsored their manufacturing or formation, making this another important indicator when evaluating how various cities contributed to Victory. For example, there is the Chelyabinsk Komsomolets submarine, and the Permsky Pioneer tank column. This demonstrates yet again how people in various cities made a major contribution to Victory through their work, their aspirations and by donating their personal savings.

In view of the above, we ask the Committee to consider the possibility of awarding honorary titles to all 11 cities.

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much, Ms Malysheva.

Mr Turchak, go ahead please.

Secretary of the United Russia General Council Andrei Turchak: Thank you.

Mr President,

First of all, I would like to say that we share the position and the expert opinion voiced by Yelena Malysheva. Your initiative on instituting the honorary title City of Labour Glory has really become a signal for uniting many people all over the country. Today it is possible to say with confidence that this project has really become a national one. Initially, it involved public and veteran organisations, labour and student teams, and industrial associations. I can say that in December we had our first meeting with veterans in Nizhny Novgorod, and it was then that the veterans asked us for the first time to help them with collecting signatures so as to ensure that Nizhny Novgorod gets this honorary title.

Action groups started approaching the United Russia’s reception offices all over the country asking to help them prepare the documents, process them properly and organise the collection of signatures. United Russia actively joined this effort. I would like to report today that over 7,800,000 signatures have already been collected throughout the country. Ufa, Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan, Samara, Saratov, Novosibirsk and Chelyabinsk are in the lead in this respect. Ufa showed the best result with over 1,200,000 votes for it.

Millions of people all over the country voted and collected signatures, campaigning for their cities both in the streets and online. This really unites people and makes them proud of the labour feats of our veterans. I would like to repeat that we fully agree with the experts’ proposals to award this title to 11 defence industry centres that were mentioned.

At the same time, in the year of the 75th anniversary of Victory, we would like to ask you to support our proposal to award this honorary title to nine more cities: Magnitogorsk, Izhevsk, Ufa, Ulyanovsk, Tomsk, Irkutsk, Ivanovo, Novokuznetsk and the city of Borovichi in the Novgorod Region. These cities have the most active voters, this idea enjoys broad public support there.

I would like to cite one example – Borovichi in the Novgorod Region. In all, there are 49,000 residents in the city, of which 42,000 voted in support of this honour. This is 85.5 percent of its residents, practically its entire population.

Mr President,

People are really looking forward to the adoption of this decision in this anniversary year. This is certainly important for them, and I think it would be fair to support them. We are asking for your support.

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much, Mr Turchak.

Colleagues, does anyone want to add anything? Go ahead, please.

Academician-Secretary in the History and Philology Department at the Russian Academy of Sciences Academician Valery Tishkov: Mr President,

Para. 3 of Article 1 of the Federal Law provides for the expert conclusion of the Russian Academy of Sciences that would confirm the existence of the grounds as established by this Article. I must say that we have carried out this work in the History and Philology Department. We engaged our leading institutes – four institutes that deal with this. Positive conclusions have been made for all cities, so we will support this proposal.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much.

Anyone else wants to add anything or is this all?

First of all, I would like to thank our colleagues from the Russian Pobeda (Victory) Organising Committee, including Ms Yelena Malysheva and Mr Andrei Turchak, for the serious academic evaluation of the issue of conferring the title City of Labour Glory.

Please also convey my words of gratitude to members of the working group of the Executive Directorate of the Year of Memory and Glory and to our colleagues – scientists and historians of the Russian Academy of Sciences. And please convey these words of gratitude to all our colleagues who were involved in this work. And of course, please thank the members of parliament who provided the expert assessment of applications from cities vying for the title.

This painstaking analysis of such a tremendous volume of historical materials and statistical data was a lot of work and a big responsibility, all the more so when people who are proud of their home city, who know and are proud of its contribution to Victory and to the country’s post-war economic rehabilitation, look forward to these results.

The example of Nizhny Novgorod speaks volumes in this respect, and we have just discussed this. City enterprises received the greatest number of awards for their labour heroism during the years of the Great Patriotic War; and grandchildren and great-grandchildren of those who worked at these enterprises without sleep or rest, while experiencing enemy air strikes, collected 846,000 signatures.

As we said, only Ufa collected more signatures: over one million people signed in support of conferring the honorary title on the city.

As I see it, there is nothing to stop our colleagues’ proposals to confer the honorary title City of Labour Glory on 20 cities simultaneously. The reasoning is obvious and convincing and completely meets the procedure and criteria of the Federal Law.

Enterprises of these cities were repeatedly awarded orders and red banners from the State Defence Committee for the uninterrupted manufacturing of military and civilian goods. There are enough documents attesting to personal courage and labour heroism of their residents.

And, of course, I would like to note once again that we have to heed the opinion of the people who collected signatures, the sincere and wide-ranging support for the initiative of conferring the prestigious title City of Labour Glory.

I will sign the necessary documents soon.

And now, I would like to congratulate the residents of the following cities: Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg, Chelyabinsk and Samara, Perm, Nizhny Tagil, Saratov, Omsk, Kazan, Novosibirsk, Yaroslavl, Magnitogorsk, Izhevsk, Ufa, Tomsk, Ulyanovsk and Ivanovo, Novokuznetsk, Irkutsk and Borovichi that have just been mentioned.

I would like to wish good health and new labour achievements to the residents of these cities.

Thank you very much for your work, and thank you for your attention.

I wish you all the best.

July 2, 2020, Novo-Ogaryovo, Moscow Region