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Talking of What Matters open lesson

September 1, 2023, Solnechnogorsk, Moscow Region

On September 1, Knowledge Day, the President held an open lesson, ‘Talking of What Matters,’ as part of the Ministry of Education, Rosmolodezh and the Russia – Land of Opportunity platform. The event was attended by 30 schoolchildren with outstanding academic achievements, winners of international contests and competitions.

Before his meeting with students, Vladimir Putin toured the Agora, a new educational campus of Senezh Management Lab which can concurrently accept up to 1,500 students. The President was accompanied by Senezh rector Andrei Betin.

Senezh Management Lab, which was established by the Russia – Land of Opportunity autonomous non-profit organisation in 2019, specialises in training management personnel for federal and regional government bodies.

* * *

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon. I am glad to see you all.

If you were paying attention, you probably know that the President of Kyrgyzstan and I have just launched the construction of three schools with lessons taught in the Russian language – or, more precisely, with all subjects taught in the Russian language, in Kyrgyzstan.

In this regard, I would like to draw your attention to the following: Kyrgyzstan is a republic of the former Soviet Union. You know, we lived in one single country. But everything is quickly forgotten, everything passes very quickly, except one thing – culture. But this also needs to be supported. Culture, including language, is an extremely important thing that underlies any society. And the fact that our friends in Kyrgyzstan have such an interest in the Russian language – and surprisingly, the Russian language was officially declared a state language in Kyrgyzstan – is an extremely important thing that we should certainly value. And we are doing this together, with the leaders of Kyrgyzstan, by planning to create a network of Russian-language schools there. This certainly contributes to maintaining all the best aspects that were achieved when the former republics of the Soviet Union were in a single space.

The Minister of Education and I also held an event related to the opening of new schools and preschool educational institutions. I must say that, on the whole, we are moving very confidently along the path of creating a new education space and improving it, which is encouraging, but of course, there are still a lot of unresolved issues.

Nevertheless, I would like to start today's meeting with the most important thing – to congratulate you and all schoolchildren, university students, teachers, and the family members of the students, schoolchildren and teachers on the new academic year, on Knowledge Day, September 1. I want to wish you all success in the new academic year.

The start of a school year is one of the most popular holidays in our country, just like New Year. What does New Year mean to us? It is associated with expectations of a miracle and renewal. The same is true for the new academic year; this is why it is called this way as it is also associated with something new: new discoveries, friends and knowledge, another step forward in your personal growth.

This is very important, and it touches the lives of every person in the country. Everyone sees the annual events held on September 1 as something relevant in one way or another: some people have kids, some have grandchildren, some work as teachers, and so on. This is indeed a very good nationwide holiday. And once again, it is related to new steps in the development of the nation and every individual.

Here I would like to note that obviously, everything that takes place in education, particularly at its initial stage, is related to the family and the way it views education. It is this attitude to education that encourages a young person’s interest in their own development and acquiring knowledge.

My colleagues have told me a great deal about how the Senezh platform is progressing, as are various projects of the Russia – Land of Opportunities platform. There are plenty of them, and they are very engaging, but there is no project that would be the most interesting, the most comprehensive and the most popular. We have no competitive projects just for families. Today, my colleagues and I talked about this in the morning, and we have just returned to this issue with the head of Senezh. I believe that such a competitive project for families would definitely be immensely popular and very appealing.

We agreed that starting September 4, people can begin submitting applications for participation in such a project. I am talking about families with children, and we would love – and by ‘we,’ I mean my colleagues at the Presidential Executive Office and the Government – for this project to involve family members representing different generations to show how a family develops, how knowledge and our traditional family values are passed down from generation to generation, and to demonstrate the importance of the family in our society and in promoting our traditional values, which are at the foundation of our state.

I expect this project to contribute to the development of the values that I have mentioned, which serve as the core basis of our progress. This, along with the knowledge you acquire at school and later at university or institute, will help your achieve self-fulfilment. The first thing to do is to choose your path in life, and then to achieve the best results as you pursue this path.

Choosing your path in life is a crucial turning point in a person’s life. We will probably talk about this later. If you succeed in finding yourself and, to quote the popular novel The Two Captains, “get an opportunity to fulfil the whole potential of your soul and find your vocation,” this will essentially serve as the key to success in the future.

While following this path to develop yourself and make progress, you will obviously feel satisfaction from your success and achievements, and will make a contribution to the development of our nation. These are two closely related things: if one is passionate about art or science and even if they engage in some hobby, deep down they ultimately seek public recognition – the recognition of what they have done and achieved, recognition from others.

We all live in society, and recognition is essential for us. Being recognised for our accomplishments gives us strength and another impetus for personal development. And I am confident that by acting this way, you will achieve the best, the most important results that our country needs in all areas of its development, such as construction, outer space, roads, infrastructure, healthcare, and environment – there are plenty of tasks that we are facing now and you will eventually encounter.

I want to wish all of you good luck on this path, and once again, I congratulate you on the start of the school year.

I would like to conclude my remarks. Let us talk together now. Although you are young, you are very forward-minded people; I do not know whether I can answer all your questions, and I suggest that we hold our meeting as an exchange of opinions rather than me answering your questions. I believe it will be even more interesting this way.

It is my pleasure to give you the floor. Please, go ahead.

Tatyana Yedysheva, moderator: Good afternoon, Mr President,

My name is Tatyana Yedysheva, and I work as a lecturer at the Russian Society Znaniye. First, as a young mother, I would like to thank you for the topic chosen for our Talking of What Matters open lesson.

Together with my colleague Anastasia Baskakova, adviser on education at the law gymnasium in Rostov-on-Don, I will be helping you today, with your permission.

Here in this hall, we have winners of the children’s mentoring school; all of them are winners of nationwide contests and specialised academic competitions. I think everyone will be happy to ask you questions today. Can we begin?

Vladimir Putin: I would suggest that we hold an exchange of opinions, not a question-and-answer session; I think it is going to be more engaging this way.

I would be interested to hear your opinions on the work you are doing, as well as you vision of how your work should be organised, the support you need from adults, officials and administrations at various levels. Can we do that? Let us to reformat our meeting a bit, shall we?

Tatyana Yedysheva: Of course.

Vladimir Putin: Go ahead, please.

Tatyana Yedysheva: I would suggest giving the floor to Ruslan Sharko from St Petersburg.

Vladimir Putin: Hello, that is my hometown, too.

Ruslan Sharko: Goof afternoon, Mr President.

I come from your hometown, from St Petersburg, and I am 17 years old. I am in the 11th grade now, school No. 94.

I am an activist of the Russian Movement of Children and Youth, and I am a co-author of this project as I have been its participant from the very beginning and have developed it together with my partners.

We have highly important values that we cherish and abide by, and one of them is a strong family. This is the topic you have mentioned.

I have a grandmother, Galina; she is a great person, a person of virtue, as they say. I can say that as soon as I began looking into the history of our family a while ago, I talked to my grandmother about it.

We talked about ways to keep all the knowledge about the entire history of our family. We drew our family tree, with as many as six generations included. We looked through all the photos and went through all the archives, searching through them to find things out and figure it all out. We were not just doing it with my grandmother: all members of my big family joined us in this endeavour. This is just one example of how you can interact with your family, narrow the gap between the generations, and spend your free time like this, without any particular reason.

Mr President, I have a question. Do you think it would be good to put together a special guide to help build a family tree? Maybe we could create a kind of an album to store the entire family history to be passed on from generation to generation.

I fully support your idea of joint events that would include the entire family, with members of three generations involved in a common cause to do something beneficial for the country.

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: First, this is a good idea, and I will certainly take efforts to support it. We just have to figure out what needs to be done to this end. Our colleagues from the Presidential Executive Office are here, so they can see and hear what we are talking about. We will support it, of course.

I want to draw your attention to one particular thing. You mentioned that it is good to get everyone together to engage in an interesting joint activity without any particular reason for it. But there is a reason, it is very important, and you just named it: a connection between generations and times, linking the events that happened to people you may never have seen or known and those happening around you and in your life right now.

I do not remember whether I have talked about this, but I keep letters from my grandfather whom I never saw; he died before I was born. I got his letters that he sent to his son, my uncle, to the front.

First of all, my grandfather was a peasant; he lived a village in the Tver Region, not far from here. The thing that drew my attention is that he addressed his son with a respectful form of ‘You,’ and his son used ‘You’ to respectfully address his father as well.

And I thought – this was just an ordinary village man; his letters had writing errors. Yet, the deep inner culture our people had is impressive and just amazing.

I have a wide social circle of different people, including artists, scientists, military figures, and so on. Many even consider it particularly amusing to use an expletive, but a plain village peasant had this inner culture that I mentioned: he respectfully addressed his own son with ‘You,’ and his son did so as well – and we are talking about an ordinary Russian village.

After reading that, I felt that my attitude to my family and myself changed; I thought it would be good to follow the best examples from our family history.

Among other things, my grandfather wrote about how my grandmother died in his arms: there were battles, and the villagers were hiding in the trenches. A German bullet hit her in the stomach, and she died in his arms. And then there were the words that struck me. He wrote to his son at the front about my grandmother’s last words. She was fully aware that she was dying, and she told her husband: “Stop crying, do not upset me.” Just imagine the depth of their relationship. She was dying but she was more worried about him because he was upset (that is what she literally said) and crying. Can you imagine how deep these ordinary people’s relationships and love were? How can we not follow their example?

When we mention our traditional values, we also mean this particular inner love that is the basis of relationships in our society. And then, in a simple family letter, my grandfather gives an order to his son at the front: “Beat the scum!” These are our values; how can we not protect them? They are the foundation of our existence and our life. And this is why the things you do – compiling your family history – are immensely important, in my opinion. I wish you every success in this undertaking, and we will make every effort to support you.

Ruslan Sharko: Thank you very much.

Tatyana Yedysheva: After discussing such an issue, it would be good to…

Vladimir Putin: One more thing – excuse me for interrupting you – when I read my grandfather’s order to his son, I realised why we won the Great Patriotic War. People with such an attitude simply cannot be defeated. We were absolutely invincible, just as we are now. This is extremely important. This is just one episode from the history of a family – and we have the vast majority of such families. It is highly important.

Please, go ahead.

Tatyana Yedysheva: Thank you.

If you do not mind, I propose we give the floor to Yaroslav Shastin, gold medallist of the International Olympiad from the Republic of Mordovia.

Yaroslav Shastin: Good afternoon, Mr President,

My name is Yaroslav Shastin. I live in Saransk and study in the 11th grade at the regional school for gifted children.

Our school specialises in academic competitions, and I have already achieved a lot in this regard. I won a gold medal at the International Science Olympiad, and I am a two-time medallist of the final stage of the Russian School Olympiad in Physics. Sometimes I ask myself whether I have achieved success in this area.

My goal in life is self-actualisation. And I would like to ask your opinion (as well as the opinion of other participants here) as to what self-actualisation means to you personally.

Vladimir Putin: This is what I said at the beginning: one must find their vocation, and if they succeed, they have an opportunity to fulfil their potential to the maximum. It means being satisfied with what you do. It means results and recognition, both being equally important – the result is very important, but a person also needs feedback.

To cite Alexander Pushkin:

“I have erected a monument to myself

Not built by hands; the track of it, though trodden

By the people, shall not become overgrown,

And it stands higher than Alexander’s column.”

Pushkin wrote this about himself. He is our everything, as they say. He is the founder of the modern Russian language and an outstanding writer and poet. He expected and sought public recognition, and spoke about it.

This is due to one’s need to set their mind on serving society: first, to achieve the utmost results on your chosen path, and second, to devote your life and your achievements to your family and the world in the broadest sense of the word, and to your country. I believe that these factors combined make a person happy.

Yaroslav Shastin: Thank you.

Tatyana Yedysheva: Young inventor Alyona Varlashova, Perm Territory.

Alyona Varlashova: Good afternoon.

My name is Alyona Varlashova. I live in Perm and I have always been very active in everything. I am now an activist with the Russian movement of children and youth, Movement of the First. I am also a young inventor and geologist. I think that one of the most important things for me is that it has been confirmed that my experiment will be implemented aboard the International Space Station. The point of the experiment is to send crude oil degrading bacteria…

Vladimir Putin: Bacteria?

Alyona Varlashova: Crude oil destroying bacteria: bacteria that eat oil.

Vladimir Putin: Why do we need to eat crude oil? You mean oil spills?

Alyona Varlashova: Yes. To eliminate oil spills. If these bacteria mutate in the outer space and become more efficient, I believe that it will help us deal with environmental issues.

Vladimir Putin: Alyona, I do not get it. Have you already launched something into space? Some bacteria?

Alyona Varlashova: Preparations for the launch are underway.

Vladimir Putin: So, you want to launch some bacteria into space, they will mutate there and then will eat crude oil?

Alyona Varlashova: Yes, it will be an effective solution to use on Earth.

Vladimir Putin: Will they eat us?

Alyona Varlashova: No, they won’t.

Vladimir Putin: Thank God. It is very important that they do not eat us, because if they mutate… I am not kidding, by the way. One must keep such things under control.

Alyona Varlashova: The experiment includes a pathogenicity test to check that the bacteria are safe.

I very much appreciate the support of Quantorium and Perm National Research Polytechnic University. Thanks to their support and my participation in the competition, my project has reached such a scale.

I believe that the support from professionals is crucial. But nevertheless, the foundation is laid at school. I very much like subjects like mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology. But there are subjects that I do not really like.

I would like to know, what was your least favourite subject at school and was it useful in life?

Vladimir Putin: Sit down, please.

First, I wish you success in mutating these bugs so that they will eat stuff we do not need and do not eat us. This is the first thing.

Second, I am very glad that you are making it work, and you have people near you who can help. Everything is really going well there. Does anything require any support? I can ask the leadership of Roscosmos to support your projects. Should I? Or is everything already planned?

Alyona Varlashova: We are already preparing for launch. That aside, it would probably be very nice not only for me to receive support, but also for other school and university students, if they are inventors, perhaps from business representatives.

Vladimir Putin: All right, I will talk to the leadership of Roscosmos so that they pay attention to this, although I know that Roscosmos has specialised educational institutions – not universities, but schools – in many regions of the Russian Federation. But we will definitely return to this issue.

As for the main part of the question – my favourite and least favourite subjects at school. My high school offered an in-depth study of chemistry, physics and mathematics, but I quickly decided for myself that I wanted to enter the faculty of law, and therefore I immediately thought about what exams I would have to take. I needed to take exams in history, literature, Russian, and a foreign language, so I had to deepen my knowledge precisely in those subjects.

In general, with regard to my favourite and least favourite subjects, I really never thought about it. To be honest: I just proceeded from the fact that there is a set of subjects that must be studied, and I just studied them, that is all.

But what would I like to say? In my opinion, this is an important remark. First, favourite and least favourite subjects – this, of course, stems from the desire to learn more and is also related to the teacher’s ability to teach effectively, interestingly, to pass the knowledge they possess to their students. You can be a good, skilled professional, but not have the ability… It can happen that a person does not possess a skill to present the information in an interesting, captivating way. This is normal, there is nothing unusual here in the sense that everyone should constantly work to improve themselves, study, obtain additional education, and teachers should do that too. But this is a separate issue.

Actually, I think that it is not that important whether a subject is a favourite or not. What’s important is… you know, even what seems unimportant might have value. For instance, there are the natural sciences: mathematics, physics, chemistry, and there are humanities. A person thinks of becoming or wants to become a journalist, a literature expert, a historian, a linguist or someone else, and they think, why do I need maths, physics or chemistry? They will never use this knowledge, so why waste time on them? And the other way around, a natural sciences lover does not want to waste time on history or literature. They want to excel in one field only.

First, we accumulate knowledge for more than just to use it in specific situations. Knowledge, especially in a variety of fields, develops a person, his character, helps create a world view, which is very important. It provides skills that will definitely be helpful in life.

Like, when studying maths, a future literature expert, a journalist or a linguist develops logical thinking skills, which is crucial for any profession. They learn to count in the broad sense of the word.

And the other way around, someone who is engaged in maths or physics and who believes that they do not need, say, history, might have a hard time understanding why they are doing their research.

As I said before, feedback from society you live in is quite important. If you do not feel it, do not understand where you live, when you do not know the history of your own family or country, it would be more difficult to find your way around the value system. So, it is what adults call harmonious development. Yes, it is vital to go deep into a certain field and become a professional in it, but at the same time you need to have a broad view of life and what surrounds you. Otherwise, it will be hard to enjoy life, or almost impossible.

So, I think it is viable to put aside the terms ‘favourite’ and ‘least favourite’ school subject and try instead to work on personal development through a wide range of issues and immerse yourself in a specific subject you like. But I think you are doing great in this sense. Good luck!

Tatyana Yedysheva: Alina Novoselova, Omsk Region. Alina is already a second-class sewer at her age.

Alina Novoselova: Hello!

My name is Alina Novoselova, I am from the village of Shipunovo in the Omsk Region.

I am a two-time winner of the regional stage of the All-Russian Olympiad for schoolchildren in Handicraft, I have the status of a teaching assistant, I am engaged in sewing. By the way, I am wearing a shirt that I made myself.

Here on the wall in the hall there is a quote that means a lot to me: “Great talent requires great diligence.” And for me, as someone who is developing their talent and creating something new with their own hands, the topic of labour education is very important. In my school, labour education is treated as a tradition: everyone is on duty in the classroom, doing general cleaning, senior school students are on duty in the canteen and keep things in order in the school as a whole. This, in my opinion, develops a person's inner core, responsibility, punctuality, prepares students for independent adult life.

It would be great if, as part of labour education, workshops with modern equipment – sewing machines, machine tools – were set up in every school, where children could develop their interests, and, in other words, create something new for themselves and for society as a whole.

Vladimir Putin: This is what we are trying to do within the course you are talking about. There are many areas of activity: sewing, cooking, IT technologies, unmanned transport. There are so many fields of endeavour there, and that is certainly supported and will be supported. Specific skills, of course, are important, including for the early career guidance of a young person. That is certainly very important.

You are also right in saying that even if it doesn't play a big role in career guidance, it helps develop self-discipline, it is very important. It is very important for a person to realise that he or she can do something with his or her own hands.

I have already spoken about it publicly and I am proud to repeat it again. I worked in a student construction brigade and was awarded the “fourth-class carpenter” qualification. I’m still proud of that. Although I did not become a carpenter of the fifth or sixth class, as you can see, I had a different fate, but I remember it and talk about it with pleasure, because I learned to do something with my own hands, and this is important.

And the idea is absolutely right. We intend to move in this direction further.

Alina Novoselova: Thank you very much.

Tatyana Yedysheva: Mr President, it looks like we might have a future civil aviation pilot here today, attending our lesson. At least, that’s what Bulat Nurgaliyev from the Republic of Tatarstan is dreaming about.

Bulat Nurgaliyev: Good afternoon, Mr President.

I am Bulat Nurgaliyev from the city of Kazan, Republic of Tatarstan.

I am interested in operating unmanned aerial vehicles (drones), I assemble and fly them. I also create drone frames. This year, I managed to take part in 33 competitions, and I won 20 of them. As has already been mentioned, I am dreaming of becoming a civil aviation pilot.

I have a request for you, rather than a question. Following the introduction of restrictions, it became problematic to fly drones and to train. Could you build several copter parks across Russia, so that people like me can do it legally, without any problems?

Vladimir Putin: You are working with unmanned aerial vehicles, but you want to fly an aircraft.

Bulat Nurgaliyev: Yes.

Vladimir Putin: I see. All right.

To be honest, unmanned technology has its own development trends, it is extremely important and becoming more and more significant in the most diverse sectors all over the world. They include unmanned aviation, unmanned cars, sea transport, etc. As you are probably aware, they are used everywhere, including in the postal service and the defence security sphere and forest protection. Unmanned technology, specifically, unmanned aircraft, is used in multiple spheres.

It is really great that you are interested in this subject. We have a programme. I think we should train one million specialists in this sphere by 2030. I do not know whether this will be enough because this sphere is developing fast.

However, there are some restrictions. We met with your adult colleagues several months ago and discussed this issue, and they also drew attention to the fact that restrictions were certainly linked with the need to maintain security. Nevertheless, many of them hamper the development of this activity.

The parks that you mentioned …

Bulat Nurgaliyev: There are several of them in Moscow.

Vladimir Putin: Moscow has these parks. I am confident that officials in Tatarstan will also hear our conversation. Indeed, the leaders of Tatarstan are very flexible, mobile and creative people. I believe that it is also possible to accomplish this there, and that this will certainly be accomplished.

Bulat Nurgaliyev: Thank you.

Tatyana Yedysheva: Bulat has even brought some drones for this session, and he has shown them to our participants.

Vladimir Putin: Excellent.

Tatyana Yedysheva: Karolina Umanskaya, Zaporozhye Region.

Karolina Umanskaya: Mr President, good afternoon.

My name is Karolina Umanskaya, I am from the city of Melitopol, Zaporozhye Region. I am 15 years old and I am studying five languages. I am also an activist with the Movement of the First. Besides, since early childhood, I have been learning oratory and acting skills. Currently I am interested in international relations and history.

My question today is of interest not only to me, people from all over the Russian Federation and the new regions, but also to the people whom I met at the Children’s Mentoring School, because here I have met people from the Lugansk People’s Republic and the Donetsk People’s Republic.

My question is this: How do you see the future development of the new regions, and do you have a vision of them five years from now?

Vladimir Putin: You know, I thought that generally people in the new regions could see how the federal authorities intend to develop them. Many things are elementary: the previous authorities simply cast a veil over them and now it is necessary to make up for lost time and try to reach Russia’s average level. This is obvious.

People living in these territories are not to blame: they are very talented, hard-working and energetic. I know, I met these people. No one is begging for anything; everyone is ready to work. The only thing that is necessary is to create the proper conditions. But support is needed, of course.

Within the next two and a half years, I think, it is planned to allocate almost two – 1.9 trillion rubles from the federal sources alone to develop these territories. That is a lot of money.

We have several development programmes for territories. Let me reiterate: the first stage is to reach Russia’s average level in social sectors, such as medicine, education and development. What is important in this regard is to restore the infrastructure, for much of it has been destroyed. These are mundane, practical things, but they are still very important for people: housing and utilities, roads, the restoration of universities, cultural centres and, of course, industries and agriculture.

Agriculture is well represented in your territories but it requires support and an effort to create conditions. I will not go into detail to avoid overwhelming you with information. At first sight, this is a dull subject. But in fact, it is highly important.

So we will not just watch how people live over there; we will do our best despite the security problems that still exist – I said as much at the previous events – we will do whatever we can in parallel, working to create the necessary security environment. But we will not wait for the accomplishment of all measures in this regard and will develop the areas I have mentioned.

Our aim is simple and clear: people must feel that they are part of a huge country and use all the advantages offered by this country, living in a safe environment and having an opportunity to develop, make important achievements and ensure the future of their children.

Karolina Umanskaya: I also wanted to enquire whether there are plans to develop health resorts in the new territories. We have plenty of locations, which, I think, can be turned into health resorts.

Vladimir Putin: Yes, I fully agree with you. Not so long ago, we discussed this with the acting governor of your region, and he also drew my attention to this recreational and tourism potential. He has very good ideas on how to develop this sector.

I am certain and have no doubt that residents of the Russian Federation – this huge country of ours – will also discover these opportunities and this will do good to the regions and to people who live locally and who will be able to work in this sphere.

Karolina Umanskaya: Thank you very much.

Tatyana Yedysheva: Mr President, we have a professional athlete sitting here who is also actively engaged in scientific work. May I give him the floor? Timur Akhmedov, Moscow.

Timur Akhmedov: Hello!

My name is Timur Akhmedov, I am from Moscow, I study at the Marshal Chuikov School in the southeast, I am a gold medallist of the International Mendeleev Olympiad and a winner of the All-Russian School Students Chemistry Olympiad. As was mentioned, I am also actively involved in research work thanks to my school.

Vladimir Putin: Which school is it?

Timur Akhmedov: A school in the city’s southeast named after Marshal Vasily Chuikov.

Vladimir Putin: I think it is in the top 20 [educational organisations in Moscow], isn't it?

Timur Akhmedov: Yes.

So, regarding the Olympiad, we compete as a real team. We are quite a close-knit team, and our teachers and coaches deserve a lot of the credit.

However, in the scientific world, research work is more valuable. I, as well as my classmates, am very lucky, because our school cooperates with leading scientific specialists from different research institutes, under whose guidance we carry out various projects in chemistry, physics and biology.

I know a lot of children from all over the country who are also drawn to this research. But, unfortunately, there is no one near them who could help and support them in this. In this regard, it would be very desirable for every schooler who has shown interest in research to have a mentor or a specialist who could show him real science, its practical component, could share experience, supervise the work, help him prepare and speak at conferences. Such a person helps a schooler to pave the beginning of his way into the scientific world. After all, it really can be a great impetus to the formation of a robust scientific community of young scientists throughout the country.

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: So you are now talking about supporting the institution of mentoring, right?

Timur Akhmedov: Yes, but in the scientific world.

Vladimir Putin: Of course, I understand. In general, we pay a lot of attention to this, we support the institution as much as we can and wherever we can. Including, of course, in the scientific sphere. It is undoubtedly very important.

The presenter said that you also do sports?

Timur Akhmedov: Yes. I am a volleyball player.

Vladimir Putin: I see.

Timur Akhmedov: You can tell from the height.

Vladimir Putin: Do you play as someone in volleyball? Where do you play?

Timur Akhmedov: Central blocker.

Vladimir Putin: Oh, I see.

What do I want to say here now? I will use this question to go back to yours. How important it is that a participant in our meeting not only does science, but also sports! Why do you play?

Timur Akhmedov: First of all, I really enjoy volleyball. I have been playing since I was a kid. I like spending time with the team, but I still want to achieve certain results there too.

Vladimir Putin: You know how important that is: I think if you keep on like this – do sports, and science, and not forget about art – you will really enjoy life. It is very important to be well-rounded.

The issue of mentorship in science you have raised is also important. Of course, I promise you that I will talk about this with both the Minister of Science and Higher Education and the Minister of Education. We are doing it, but if you are talking about it, then it is not enough.

You have just mentioned participation in conferences. First, I congratulate you on your results at the Olympiads, but, apparently, something is missing in this area of activity when preparing for conferences?

Timur Akhmedov: It is not really missing. True, it is already developing in Moscow: specialists both help and serve as scientific supervisors for schoolchildren. However, this is not envisaged anywhere (I do not know how to say it correctly) as an official job, and people are simply ready to work with schoolchildren if they want.

Vladimir Putin: This is because they do not have a status and it is not legally codified, though, I think we are building this work of mentoring through regulatory action.

I will look into it again. If you are talking about this, it means that something is missing in practice. I promise you that we will definitely look into this so that people who could or can do mentoring will have added encouragement. We will definitely do this.

Timur Akhmedov: Thank you very much.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you for your question.

Tatyana Yedysheva: Russia has declared 2023 the Year of Teachers and Mentors. Since Timur raised the subject of mentoring, I propose giving the floor to a future teacher – in any case, this is what Yelizaveta Vindilovich from Tyumen plans to do.

Yelizaveta Vindilovich: Good afternoon, Mr President.

My name is Yelizaveta Vindilovich, I am 16, and I represent Tyumen.

I really want to become a teacher of history and social studies. At 16, I became a finalist of the My Start in Teaching competition in Artek and was named best camp counsellor.

I also developed my own board game – it’s a career guidance game featuring top teacher training universities in Moscow, St Petersburg and other Russian cities.

Vladimir Putin: What kind of game? What is the idea?

Yelizaveta Vindilovich: It is a board game like Monopoly, only the property that players trade represents those universities, so when high school pupils play, before they buy the property, the moderator talks about that school – its departments and available programmes, and which exams they need to take to enroll.

Other squares on the board contain tasks where the player must do things that university students do, take out a student loan or get a scholarship. One of the spaces on the board is “failed exam,” where the player needs to get over it and move on.

In the future, I would like to be a teacher at my school, fostering a wonderful younger generation there. Today is Knowledge Day, I would like to thank our mentors for their hard and important work, as part of the Thank You Teacher campaign.

Mr President, allow me to start with my teacher, and express my gratitude to my teacher, Ms Oksana Starostina, for her sense of responsibility and contribution to the achievements of her pupils and tell her that she is a true professional example for me.

Mr President, I would also like to ask you, too: who of your mentors would you like to say warm words of gratitude today?

Vladimir Putin: First of all, it is a very good idea, and I think that expanding your campaign would be the right thing to do. Our parents and mentors, our teachers and educators certainly deserve all the credit for what we have in life.

Can you believe that I remember my first teacher? Ms Tamara Chizhova, I perfectly remember her last name, first name, and patronymic. She was my teacher in first grade. Ms Vera Gurevich was my form tutor in middle school. I remember them all and I really owe them a lot.

It is certainly true that what we build on the foundation that our parents, our mentors and teachers lay for us, and how we do it, is our own responsibility and depends on our hard work. But we must never forget what they have done for us. We must treat them – the old formula goes – the same way we want to be treated.

Tatyana Yedysheva: I suggest giving the floor to Darya Seraya, Smolensk Region. Darya helps children who have cancer in her region.

Darya Seraya: Good afternoon, Mr President.

My name is Dasha, I am from Smolensk. I go to School No. 8, a programme for in-depth study of foreign languages. As Tatiana mentioned, I have developed a project that helps children who have cancer. I am also learning seven foreign languages. Recently I began to learn Latin. Also, my class teacher and I have developed a career guidance community on the Vkontakte social networking app – Light Your Star. Among other things, we cooperate with Belarusian educational institutions on this project.

But my question has to do with my biggest passion, which is foreign languages. We have been communicating less with Europe lately, and are increasingly seeking cooperation with countries in the East. I know a lot of children who are eager to learn Asian languages but, unfortunately, they do not have the opportunity.

I would like to know your opinion and to put forward a proposal. Is it possible to make Asian languages like Chinese available for study in schools?

Vladimir Putin: First of all, I would like to say this. Interest in the oriental languages is a natural thing, absolutely natural because we are witnessing the rapid development of that part of the world – Asia. This does not mean that everything else should fade, but nevertheless, this is an obvious fact.

A girl here said she was interested in international relations. Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy recently published an article where he talks about future global development. I agree with much of what he said. He points out that Africa’s population will grow to 2.5 billion by 2030, while there will be only 430 to 450 million people in Europe. And what about Asia? China has a population of 1.5 billion, India also has 1.5 billion people, and Indonesia’s population already stands at 300 million, which means that these are objective processes. They aren’t related to the current global political situation, although, this contributes to today's realities of course, but these are objective processes. And this is very serious.

By the way, we have been paying increasing attention to the development of our relations with the Asian countries for a long time. To reiterate: this is not due solely to today's events. We have been doing this naturally because, given the development pace in Asia, the Asian countries, the centre of economic and, as always, political life will gradually shift to these regions.

I repeat once again: this is an unbiased and inevitable process. But this does not mean that we should throw the other vectors of our interaction away. Of course not. But this is something we cannot ignore. In this regard, of course, the study of the languages of the countries where our relations are growing is needed. Our trade with China has increased by 50 percent – I won’t say how large it is now, I do not want to make a mistake, but it’s over $100 billion. Our trade with India has increased many times over: two and a half times, or 2.3 times, I think. It is the same with other countries. This, of course, will require more specialists who can work in these areas.

The study of oriental languages is in high demand. But this is not a quick process, because specialists are needed. This requires time, a certain effort on the part of the state, funding and so on. But we will do this based on what we have inherited from the old days, because Oriental Studies in the Soviet Union and in Russia have always been at a high level, which is recognised by all our colleagues in this field.

Therefore, what you say is correct. We intend to do this and we certainly will.

Darya Seraya: Thank you very much.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you.

I wish you success. How many languages did you say you were studying?

Darya Seraya: Seven.

Vladimir Putin: Seven. Which ones? Latin, of course, but you are unlikely to speak Latin with anyone, right? Which else?

Darya Seraya: French, English, Spanish, Polish, German, and Japanese.

Vladimir Putin: See, only one of these is Oriental.

Darya Seraya: Yes, Japanese.

Vladimir Putin: It is necessary to develop oneself.

Darya Seraya: Of course, this is my plan. I promise.

Vladimir Putin: I wish you success.

Darya Seraya: Thank you.

Tatyana Yedysheva: Mr President, considering your busy schedule, please let me know if you will take one last question.

Vladimir Putin: Let me see. Please, pass the microphone to the young lady.

Maria Gribanova: Good afternoon, Mr President.

My name is Maria Gribanova. I am a Year 11 student at the Financial University High School at the Government of the Russian Federation located in the Hero City of Moscow.

Briefly about me. I used to be interested in hard science such as physics, computer science, and mathematics and dreamed of becoming an IT specialist. However, in the previous year, I became interested in humanities and decided to study these subjects on my own. As a result, I won a prize at an All-Russian School Olympiad in law and many other olympiads in jurisprudence and law. So, I am both a humanities person and a techie.

Vladimir Putin: Excellent.

Maria Gribanova: This helped me choose a specific area of study which is legal regulation of digital technologies and their integration into our everyday life, including education.

In this regard, I have a question for you. What are Russia's plans for integrating artificial intelligence into the educational processes at schools and universities? For example, replacing teachers with artificial intelligence. How will the learning and, importantly, the upbringing of schoolchildren take place in case of such a turn of events? To what extent should we let artificial intelligence replace humans?

Vladimir Putin: We are not going to start a debate now about what will become of humanity as AI continues to evolve, as there are many apprehensions surrounding this subject. Some seriously think it is a major threat, while others believe that AI will ultimately remain under human control, even though it is capable of training itself. There may indeed be certain threats in this regard.

But if we return to your question about artificial intelligence in education, the first thing I want to say is that we are certainly moving towards this and will continue to do so. However, I agree with the specialists who believe that, at this stage, we should view it as a tool to assist educators. Direct interaction between students and teachers is something that artificial intelligence is unlikely to replace now. I am speaking very conservatively because there are various approaches and viewpoints regarding this issue. Some believe AI may eventually be capable of this, including because it is acquiring features that are unique to living beings, such as compassion. However, there may be certain risks associated with this. But as of today, in the broadest sense and for widespread use, AI should be an additional tool in the hands of educators. I believe nothing can replace a teacher, especially in terms of the educational process, which is something we just discussed, and, in that regard, I fully agree with you.

Maria Gribanova: Thank you very much.

Vladimir Putin: But we have many very exciting areas of study. Sberbank, for example, is developing highly promising areas of work with schoolchildren and higher education institutions, including the use of AI tools.

Maria Gribanova: Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: You are studying law, right?

Maria Gribanova: Yes, I am studying law, and I plan to build my career around it.

Vladimir Putin: Are you studying Latin, like [Daria Seraya]?

Maria Gribanova: Yes, I am.

Vladimir Putin: Dura lex, sed lex.

Tatyana Yedysheva: Maria Lebedeva, Altai Territory, dreams of going to medical school.

Maria Lebedeva: Good afternoon, Mr President.

My name is Maria Lebedeva. I am from Biysk, Altai Territory. I am a Year 12 student at the Biysk Lyceum, in the class with an in-depth study of physics and math.

My professional interests currently lie in nanotechnology. This year, I participated in the Grand Challenges session at the Sirius Educational Centre in July. The teachers and speakers there were incredibly inspiring for progress in nanotechnology.

Nanotechnology today is an incredibly promising aspect of the defence industry, medicine and microelectronics. I wish more kids were interested in it. However, nanotechnology is a science at the intersection of physics, chemistry and biology, and not every school offers interdisciplinary subjects.

I have a proposal in this regard. Do you think it is possible to introduce this subject in Years 12 and 13 in physics and math classes, as well as chemistry and biology classes, as an elective, or, perhaps, as a section in their chemistry or physics course?

Vladimir Putin: This can be done. We need to be careful with new subjects of course, but in any case, it can be introduced as additional training in some specialised schools. In fact, it is a necessary thing to do, because, as you rightly said, it is certainly one of the areas that represent the future.

You have mentioned a few areas where nanotechnology can be used, but there are more. They can be applied everywhere, not only in defence, although defence goes without saying. To make it clear to those who have never explored this matter: we have flying machines today – an airplane, for example. Using nanotechnology, you can make a flying machine the size of a fly, but it will perform practically the same functions as a regular aircraft – that's what nanotechnology is. It refers to new materials, one of the drivers of change in all spheres of society.

Nanotechnology refers to particles a billionth of a metre, is that right? But people are already thinking about starting to use nanoparticles as small as one-trillionths of a metre. I am afraid to sound ridiculous, but nevertheless: the microscopic world, apparently, is as infinite and boundless as outer space, and that is really impressive.

This certainly opens up huge, simply colossal opportunities for the development of any sphere and of the country as a whole. I met with the Prime Minister [Mikhail Mishustin] yesterday night and we discussed this. We will try our best to promote this sphere of activity, including in education.

Tatyana Yedysheva: Grigory Vasilyev, Nizhny Novgorod Region.

Grigory Vasilyev: Good afternoon, Mr President.

My name is Grigory Vasilyev. I am from Nizhny Novgorod. I am a student at School No. 800, and I am involved in creative activities. I play musical instruments such as the xylophone, snare drum, and piano. I also go to a theatre studio and write poetry.

My friends from different Russian cities, who are also poets and writers, are eager to share their creative work with people, with the public. However, at this point, we are dealing with a shortage of platforms where poets and writers from all over the country could share their experiences and creativity, read poems, and listen to each other. We lack coaches and mentors who could teach us how to write poetry correctly and engage in the art of writing. We also lack information support from the government.

Vladimir Putin: But there is the internet. Does it not have enough content?

Grigory Vasilyev: That is true, but it is not quite the same. I have an idea: what if we create a club for young authors where poets and writers from different cities in Russia could share their creativity, communicate, discuss things, and learn something new on platforms? Do you think it is possible to implement my idea with the support of the Ministry of Culture?

Vladimir Putin: Let us give it a try. (Addressing Sergei Kiriyenko.) Mr Kiriyenko, let us give it a try. I will discuss this with the Minister of Culture [Olga Lyubimova] and the Presidential Executive Office. I thought that with the internet and our lively information environment, this would be enough. But if you feel it is not sufficient, then I believe we should try to work on this idea. However, I think, and I am not sure where exactly or what, but there is a dedicated platform in Crimea where young people regularly get together and interact.

Grigory Vasilyev: You will still need to make it to Crimea.

Vladimir Putin: That is true.

By the way, Mr Kiriyenko, perhaps we can develop and expand this platform as an online venue by using the latest technology and have its mentors work across the entire country? Let us try to expand the work of this platform.

First Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Sergei Kiriyenko: Mr President, we will certainly do that. We have Tavrida residencies in almost every region.

Vladimir Putin: But it appears not to be enough.

Sergei Kiriyenko: Yes, I understand that it is not enough.

Vladimir Putin: Or maybe they are there, but have not really made themselves known.

Sergei Kiriyenko: That is possible too.

Vladimir Putin: Do you write poetry?

Grigory Vasilyev: Yes.

Vladimir Putin: Can you read something to us?

Grigory Vasilyev: Right now?

Vladimir Putin: Right here.

Grigory Vasilyev: Right here? Okay, one moment.

Vladimir Putin: Is it okay with you? If you are not comfortable, then do not.

Grigory Vasilyev: No, no, why not? I am all for it.

(Reads a poem about the Motherland.)

Vladimir Putin: What a talented young man! What is your name?

Grigory Vasilyev: Grigory.

Vladimir Putin: Well done, Grisha. Congratulations!

Grigory Vasilyev: Thank you.


Tatyana Yedysheva: A poetry reading during our session at the Children's Mentoring School has become one of the warmest events. As we understand, we have a lot of children in love with art. Zinyat Gajiyeva is in love with biology. Can I pass the microphone to her?

Vladimir Putin: Yes, you can, but I made a promise to that young girl and I have to keep my promise.

Tatyana Yedysheva: Kristina Kulya, Lugansk People's Republic.

Kristina Kulya: Good afternoon, Mr President.

Vladimir Putin: Hello!

Kristina Kulya: My name is Kristina Kulya, I am 16 years old, I am from the Lugansk People's Republic, the city of Krasnodon. I study at the Lugansk Economic and Legal Lyceum named after the Young Guard Heroes.

I am the winner of the School League of Lecturers nationwide competition, which means I am a lecturer of the Znaniye Russian society, an activist of the Yunarmiya [Young Army] military-patriotic movement and the Movement of Pioneers Russian movement of children and youth.

Regarding the development of the region, I would like to note that the changes have really touched everyone who lives in the republic, and the opportunities that are now opening up for the younger generation are colossal. Thank you very much for this.

My question is related to the development of Russian-Chinese relations. You noted that they were actively developing now. In order to further develop them, it is important that our generation has a certain amount of knowledge about our partner country.

Please tell us whether it is possible to implement a project like “university shifts” and exchange programmes, in which schoolchildren from China could see our great multi-ethnic country, its culture, and higher educational institutions? Accordingly, Russian schoolchildren would thus gain tremendous experience and strengthen their knowledge of China. The same programme would be not only useful, but also interesting for African countries.

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: Yes, of course. Of course, this can and must be done; we are doing it and we will further develop this work. This is cooperation in the field of cultural ties. We have already hosted the Years of Youth and the Years of Culture [with China]. I think this is very important because it creates an informal connection between countries and directly between people. It is important, considering what we have already said here, that the development of our economic, scientific and technical ties, as well as ties in the field of space and energy requires an increasing number of specialists. And specialists will not appear from just anywhere if there is no interest in the partner country, so this is very important. We have been doing it and we will definitely do it.

Soon enough we will have joint events. There will be a meeting with the President of China, who calls me his friend, and I am happy to call him my friend, because he does a lot personally for the development of Russian-Chinese relations and ties, and in a variety of areas. We will certainly discuss what else can be done in this area to develop cultural contacts.

Kristina Kulya: Thank you very much.

Tatyana Yedysheva: Maxim Borsuk, Sevastopol.

Maxim Borsuk: Hello, Mr President!

My name is Maxim, I am from the sunny hero-city of Sevastopol. And my main area of expertise is IT technologies, everything related to them, from information security to Telegram bots and machine learning. But my initiative is not related to that.

As many people have already mentioned, popularising education and specifically knowledge is a very important thing. After all, you yourself mentioned that there should be no favourite and least favourite subjects, all subjects should be good, useful and favourites.

Vladimir Putin: (addressing Alyona Varlashova): Tell me here.

Maxim Borsuk: Yes, Alyona. Since schools are creating school theatres everywhere, it would be very good if a separate section of so-called scientific stand-up was created there.

What is that? It's when a person who stands on stage and a person who sits in the audience communicate as equals. It's about explaining complicated things in simple language and with humour. Have you ever heard a science stand-up?

Vladimir Putin: Ever heard what?

Maxim Borsuk: Science stand-up?

Vladimir Putin: Yes, I think it is developing here. I think this kind of work is also going on within the framework of the Znaniye society.

Maxim Borsuk: It's just that it is being developed in Sevastopol on the basis of ”quantoriums“ and the organisation Mikast. And it would be very good if it was implemented in schools, because then students will be able to instil love of science in other students, then ”soft“ skills are developed, that is, communication with the audience, public speaking, talking to the audience, you know? This is very important.

Vladimir Putin: I understand and I support it. And in general, teachers in many schools use this method of teaching. I have already spoken at the previous event, especially when high school students communicate with young children. It is very important for both sides. For high school students it is important because they feel they are almost adults, and the degree of their responsibility for the kids increases. And for kids it is important because they are older kids, but they are still kids, and kids often have more trust in high school students than even in teachers. This is an extremely important thing, very interesting, and the form is good. I will definitely advise the Minister of Education to more widely implement the suggestions you have expressed.

Maxim Borsuk: Thank you very much.

Vladimir Putin: You are welcome.

Tatyana Yedysheva: Zinyat Gadzhiyeva, Moscow Region.

Zinyat Gadzhieva: Good afternoon, Mr President.

Vladimir Putin: Hello.

Zinyat Gadzhieva: My name is Zinyat. I am 17 years old. I am from the Moscow Region. This year I started my last year in school at Odintsovo Lyceum No 10.

Today the topic of culture and language has been mentioned a couple of times. I definitely agree with you on how important it is to preserve and pass it on. I believe that literature does this best. It best shows how people lived, and now people are trying to somehow describe in their manuscripts how people are living now.

This summer I read Dostoyevsky’s The House of the Dead, and I remembered one thing from the novel. I won’t say it verbatim, but Dostoyevsky described the Russians’ distrust of medicine. This is what he wrote: if a commoner falls ill with the most serious illness, then he would rather go to a healer to be treated with common folk medicines than go to a doctor, much less to a hospital. On the one hand, I thought it was funny. On the other hand, this mistrust has not gone away.

The problem is that Dostoyevsky lived in the 19th century, and science and medicine have advanced greatly since then. Pavlov received the Nobel Prize in physiology, and Mechnikov received the Nobel Prize in immunology.

Quite recently, in 2020, Russian scientists discovered the first coronavirus vaccine, Sputnik V. I believe this is a great achievement. To be honest, I was a little surprised that some people were sceptical about this vaccine. I realise that this mistrust was due to the lack of knowledge. So here is my proposal. As my colleagues have already mentioned, 2023 was announced the Year of the Teacher and Mentor, but for some reason mentoring usually means seniors teaching juniors. I think you can already guess that I completely disagree with this. I believe that today’s youth can also teach adults something. Therefore, I propose launching educational projects for adults, where they would be taught aspects of biology and medicine.

My question is as follows: What do you think about the phrase, “It is easier to move a mountain than to make an adult change their mind”?

Vladimir Putin: First, it is a good idea.

You know, in the early days of computer literacy programmes, quite a large number of older people participated in these programmes, and the lessons were given by relatively young people. I mean that, in general, we have not forgotten how to do this.

Our young people work with older people, and elderly people do not hesitate to seek help from younger people, as long as they are good specialists. This is my first point.

Second, I think this is a good proposal, and it should be acted upon. Do you have any specific ideas on how to organise this? I would like to hear everything that you have to say about this.

Zinyat Gadzhieva: I thought that early on there are unlikely to be people who would be willing to engage in adult education pro bono. Therefore, I thought that a volunteer organisation could be established to help adults.

I believe it is important because, besides the fact that people will get to learn things, it also means delaying the onset of age-related cognitive impairment. It is good thing for the brain to continue to remain active in old age as well. It also involves the development of certain social spheres.

Vladimir Putin: Well, yes, of course, it is a noble cause. Research shows that people engaged in creative activities live longer. Life expectancy of people engaged in creative activities is slightly higher than people who are not, and specialists believe that this is related to brain activity. The brain activates other bodily systems and makes them work. So, it is important.

Speaking of making adults change their minds, re-educating or imparting new values to them, it is indeed more difficult than moving a mountain in some cases. Why? Because the activity of neurons in the brain fades with age, and the number of neural connections decreases as well if you do not constantly train them. If the number of neural connections decreases, and the established standards, including the set of knowledge and behaviour based on these neural connections of the brain have firmly established themselves, then it is difficult to change them, that is true. To change things, you need strong impressions and persuasiveness in the highest sense of the word.

However, nothing is impossible. The idea itself is noble and good. We will strive to implement it.

Zinyat Gadzhieva: Thank you.

Tatyana Yedysheva: Mr President, may I comment on what Zinyat just said?

Vladimir Putin: Yes, please.

Tatyana Yedysheva: I would like to say that the Znaniye Society has a large pool of lecturers who provide enlightenment to people of different ages in our country and do so free of charge.

Vladimir Putin: It should be practiced more widely and deeply, and everything will be fine.

Tatyana Yedysheva: Maria Andreyeva, Rostov Region, a space explorer, by the way.

Maria Andreyeva: Good afternoon, Mr President.

My name is Maria Andreyeva, I am from Rostov-on-Don, and I am a 9th grader at Classical Lyceum No. 1.

I have been involved in satellite construction for three years. The first Don satellite, which I developed with my team, was launched recently.

Now I am working, together with MIEM [Moscow Institute of Electronics and Mathematics], the Higher School of Economics and my lyceum, on the first satellite in Russia that will have a data centre with blockchain installed.

I mentor children in the field of space, conduct classes and develop my own lessons on the subject of space, various scientific competitions on where to start and how to get involved.

I have a small proposal and request for you. The proposal is that there is a wonderful project, Space Classrooms, but they cannot be opened everywhere.

Vladimir Putin: I think there are already more than a hundred of them.

Maria Andreyeva: Yes, there are, but they cannot be opened in small towns or cities where there are no Roscosmos enterprises or space institutes.

I think it would be important to create a project aimed at those who unfortunately cannot attend these space classes.

My idea is to organise a small programme at Roscosmos enterprises in several Russian cities, where people can come, learn the history of space exploration, learn that this is accessible and educational, and to be told where to start and what competitions to take part in. I think this a very important project.

I have a small request for you. When I teach a class, I bring my first satellite, where my space history began. When I take it out of the box, the children’s eyes start to glow, and looking at their glowing eyes makes me happy. I tell them that if they touch this satellite and make their most important wish, it will definitely come true.

As a mentor, I also made a wish, and my wish was to meet you, and it came true today. I would like to ask you to sign my satellite to honour it, as a sign that all dreams must come true.

Vladimir Putin: Ok. When we finish, I will definitely do that, ok?

Maria Andreyeva: Yes, of course.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you.

The idea is good. I have already promised that I will talk with Roscosmos management, and maybe this platform can be expanded, even in cities where there are no Roscosmos enterprises, for the whole country. Your idea is very good.

Good luck to you, and all the best.

Maria Andreyeva: Thank you.

Tatyana Yedysheva: Valeria Loskutova, Voronezh Region.

Valeria Loskutova: Good afternoon, Mr President.

My name is Valeria Loskutova, I am from Voronezh.

All of us here were winners at the Children’s Mentoring School national project. First, we were participants in the To Teach session at Terra Scientia, which takes place right here at Senezh. Lecturers from different fields came here and gave us masterclasses. But I want to note that we also taught each other a lot. For example, Yaroslav did a workout with us, Timofey, who, unfortunately, got sick today and is not here, told us about financial literacy, and Alina gave us an origami masterclass. Each of us is ready to be a mentor for children.

On September 4, we will arrive in our cities, go to school and teach the children a “Talking of What Matters” lesson.

I would like to ask you a question: Mr President, please tell me, what is the most important thought we should share with children on September 4?

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: How to love Russia.

Valeria Loskutova: Excellent advice. Thanks a lot.

Vladimir Putin: But we need to approach this creatively. The way Grisha Vasilyev approached it, and he knows how to do it. You can look at it from a historical point of view, and at the challenges that the country faces; connect it with our history, traditions, family, and the country’s future, and show all of this together from different points of view. You need to present this beautifully and interestingly, so that children’s eyes sparkle and so you enjoy it, too. And that would be great.

Valeria Loskutova: Thank you very much.

Tatyana Yedysheva: Andrei Mikhashula.

Andrei Mikhashula: Good afternoon, Mr President.

My name is Andrei Mikhashula, I am from Pushkin, Moscow Region, and I am 14 years old.

This year I entered the Yevgeny Primakov Gymnasium, the 9th grade. I am interested in sports, journalism, Olympiads in Russian and law. Like you, I dream of studying law.

My question is this. Russia is a land of opportunity, and now there are a huge number of competitions aimed at children’s development, like the Bolshaya Peremena. I am also taking part in it. Today the To Act session, part of the Terra Scientia youth forum, concludes at Senezh. And I have this question: what competencies and qualities should a person have in order to get a job as a civil servant and, possibly, become President of Russia? We are now creating the future, and ‘Russia is a land of opportunity’ is our slogan, and this is what the Children’s Mentoring School and our Terra Scientia forum are focused on.

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: You know, I will probably say general, trivial things, but you can’t do without them. Look, you talked about the civil service. This is service, this is devotion. Devotion to whom? To people, to your country. If there is no inner desire to help people, then you should not enter a medical university, because if there is no desire to work with patients, then it is better not to deal with this, it is better to do some kind of research or the like. It is the same here: if there is an inner desire to help people, to help your country, region, village, town or city – if you have a true desire… Ask Grisha Vasilyev, he wants to write poetry, right? He does. It is the same with this: if you want to serve people, just go and do it; if you don’t want to, then it is better to do something else. But if you have such a need, an inner need, a desire, then do it.

And there are many details related to self-development in this field, a noble field; and there are also difficulties. But they are all surmountable if you feel you want to serve people.

Andrei Mikhashula: And for me this question was very important, because I am really ready to help people. It seems to me that this is one of the most important goals and the meaning of life for all people.

Thank you for your answer.

Vladimir Putin: Even more so. With such an attitude you really can do this.

Tatyana Yedysheva: Thank you. We have a repeat winner of national and international Olympiads, Ivan Mikhailov.

Ivan Mikhailov: Good afternoon.

My name is Ivan Mikhailov, I am a student at the Letovo school in Moscow. I am a winner of the final stage of the All-Russian Olympiad for schoolchildren in history and geography, as well as a two-time gold medallist in the European Geography Olympiad.

In recent months, I have also been happy to be a teacher at the Bunt 14 online school. We prepare schoolchildren for geography, history and art Olympiads. In our, without exaggeration, difficult times, the country faces great challenges. It is impossible to list every one of them: they concern our sovereignty, they concern our country’s security.

But I would like to ask a question about a challenge that I consider the most important for myself – the country’s centralisation.

It's a known fact that every decade, every year, many people from small towns and villages move to big cities, to megacities, primarily Moscow and St Petersburg. The Moscow urban agglomeration is growing every year; even now, according to various estimates, its population exceeds 20 million, and is expected to exceed 30–40 million by the 2030s and 2040s. The share and importance of large cities is increasing, while that of smaller communities is decreasing.

Do you believe this is a threat to the country or, on the contrary, a natural, normal process? What do you think we should do about it – try to do something to balance the population distribution across the country or just leave it as it is?

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: This is called “spatial development issues.”

There are many issues here. You might find it strange, but this is also a subject of debate with the country’s government. What is more important – to further promote the development of larger communities or to support development across the country? I think the truth is always somewhere in the middle.

Today's international practice shows that the best results are achieved by those countries which have large urban agglomerations that are the centres of development. But moderation in all things is best, because even the development of large urban areas should be harmonious. Along with science and industry, the social sphere should be developed as well. This includes schools, preschool institutions, hospitals, outpatient clinics, education institutions, and so on. Large imbalances lead to problems that are difficult to resolve, such as transport.

Look at what is happening in Moscow now. Yes, probably not all transport problems have been resolved, but the situation is definitely much better than in many large urban centres around the world. This is for sure, 100 percent. But it takes a very dedicated approach.

With Russia’s vast territory and relatively small population for its size, it is very important to avoid population decline in certain regions, so they don’t end up depopulated. To avoid that, we need to do several things. First, we need to develop these territories fairly evenly. These are, again, issues of spatial development. This includes jobs – interesting, high-tech and high-paying – as well as the development of education, medicine, and so on.

There is one more important factor of harmonious development, and that factor is transport connectivity. Suppose we implement a project to build a high-speed railway – once it is in place, the trip from Moscow to St Petersburg will take two hours, two hours and five minutes. Can you imagine that? This will also be a game-changer for people living halfway between these cities – it will only take an hour to get from Moscow to Tver or to Veliky Novgorod from St Petersburg. An hour is less than many people in Moscow spend on their daily commute to work. Things will be very different. Consider doing the same further east, to the south, to Nizhny Novgorod and further to the Urals and beyond the Urals. It will be a completely different story. It is a big and complicated project, but a necessity for any country, especially Russia with its vast territory. We will definitely consider taking these steps.

Ivan Mikhailov: Thank you very much.

You said that improving transport accessibility between Moscow and St Petersburg will change things in the cities between them. But there was a time when the new railway between Moscow and St Petersburg actually triggered depopulation in the Tver, Pskov and Novgorod regions. These are probably the regions with the most rapidly decreasing populations in Russia.

Can’t the construction of high-speed rail or similar highways further accelerate these processes and aggravate them?

Vladimir Putin: I do not think so. I think it will be exactly the opposite. At present, it may take as long as three hours to get from one point in Moscow to another. And they will be able to get from Tver to Moscow in an hour. One can live in a good place in a clean environment, have a small house on the riverbank and work in Moscow – it only takes an hour to get there. Isn’t this an appealing prospect? For the vast majority of people, it certainly is. So, I believe this will be a good thing in terms of Russia’s connectivity and will address the problem you mentioned.

Ivan Mikhailov: Thank you very much.

Tatyana Yedysheva: Darya Kolekina from the Ryazan Region has been holding up her arm for a long time. Can we give her the floor?

Darya Kolekina: Good afternoon, Mr President.

My name is Darya Kolekina, I am from Novomichurinsk, Ryazan Region.

I am an activist in the Movement of the First. I love competing in school Olympiads and I do folk dancing. I am starting the 11th grade this year. I am a potential gold medallist, and I prefer the humanities. I work hard on math and sciences, too, but I know which is easier. Recently I learned that the Government is considering a draft law adding a silver medal option [of graduating with honours], and what I have to say is not a question for you, but rather gratitude on behalf of all school students for adding the silver medal.

Thank you very much.

Vladimir Putin: You need to thank the Minister of Education. I will pass on your words to him.

Darya Kolekina: Thank you very much.

Mr President, I have a childhood dream, a cherished one. Could I shake hands with you and pass on your handshake to my parents?

Vladimir Putin: I would love that. What do your parents do?

Darya Kolekina: My mother works in the city administration, and my father works at the Ryazan GRES power plant.

Vladimir Putin: I see. What your parents do is serious and important. And, while certainly being busy at work, they still paid great attention to your upbringing and education. I extend my most sincere words of gratitude to them for this.

Darya Kolekina: Thank you very much.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you.

Tatyana Yedysheva: Ivetta Makoyeva, Kabardino-Balkarian Republic.

Ivetta Makoyeva: Good afternoon, Mr President.

My name is Ivetta Makoyeva, and I represent School No. 5 in Chegem, Kabardino-Balkaria.

I am an activist in the Movement of the First, a Russian movement of children and youth, and I am also the chair of student government, the 2023 Student of the Year in Kabardino-Balkaria, and a volunteer. Each of us recently became a lecturer at the Znaniye Society and winner of the All-Russian competition “Children's Mentoring School.”

It is a great honour for me to be here and to be able to ask you a question today.

As you have said, the issues of education and mentoring are always about the future. Do you think that mentoring can take its place in the life of children and young people in the future and become an integral part in various spheres?

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: Yes, of course. We talked about this many times before.

It is very important that both adults and young people are involved in mentoring. We have talked about this just now. I am very pleased to hear that. It has to do with sharing your experience and knowledge with those who trust you and whom you like and with your desire to share your knowledge with other people. It is an important reciprocal process, which will strengthen our society. We will do this by all means.

Ivetta Makoyeva: Thank you very much.

Tatyana Yedysheva: Gleb Yegorenkov, Novosibirsk Region.

Gleb Yegorenkov: Good afternoon, Mr President.

Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon.

Gleb Yegorenkov: My name is Gleb Yegorenkov. I was born and live in Novosibirsk, and I am 14. I go to Lyceum No. 22 Nadezhda Sibiri [The Hope of Siberia]. I love sciences such as chemistry and biology. I take part in various Olympiads in these disciplines. I also have a special interest in the branch of biology called genetics.

I would like to say that I agree with you and with Maria that it is extremely important to add optional subjects to the curriculum, for example, nanotechnology or genetics.

Overall, I will probably express the opinion of all students present here that this conversation and meeting with you was very instructive, fascinating and interesting. I also think that our meeting would not be complete if we do not pose for a group photograph.

Vladimir Putin: We will certainly do this. As I see it, it does not have a direct connection to genetics, but it will consolidate the team we have created here. We will certainly add a factual element to our relations by posing for a photograph, which future generations will be able to see.

Thank you very much.

Have you won any competitions?

Gleb Yegorenkov: Yes, I am taking part in the National Technology Olympiad and I won in the Technology for Urban Environment section last year. Today, I am taking part in the high school track in the Agrobiotechnology and Modern Food Engineering sections. I am headed for victory.

Vladimir Putin: We wholeheartedly wish you success and all the very best.

Gleb Yegorenkov: Thank you.

Tatyana Yedysheva: Polina Shutova, Trans-Baikal Territory.

Polina Shutova: Good afternoon.

My name is Polina Shutova, and I am from Chita, the Trans-Baikal Territory, where I am about to start 10th grade.

I am engaged in all kinds of creative activities, although overall I am mostly focused on developing mobile applications using virtual and augmented reality technology.

Russian Geography VR is one of the latest applications I wrote, choosing three Russian regions: the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Area, the Trans-Baikal Territory, and the Pskov Region. Ipresented information on their landmarks with 3D models so that users can have a closer look at them. After all, most of us cannot just go and visit these places. This helps people learn more about these landmarks.

Here is my question: Do you think that making this technology part of the educational process would be helpful? It could make work easier for teachers, while making school students more interested in learning almost any subject.

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: Yes, this can be done and would be useful, of course. But if we are talking about the youngest students, augmented reality and what have you – all these solutions must comply with sanitary rules and norms, and it is up to specialists and child psychologists to set clear boundaries for using this technology. That said, why not? We must use everything we have at our disposal whenever it benefits the educational process.

We must use all the human achievements. There is no other way. However, in doing so we must be cautious by following the well-known medical precept which reads: “Do no harm.” You cannot just place these solutions in a sealed box and keep them there. But we need to exercise caution and consider the consequences, including sanitary and medical implications, especially for the younger kids. That is all there is to it.

Please, go ahead.

Alesya Zhuk: Good afternoon, Mr President.

My name is Alesya Zhuk, and I am 14 years old. I come from Hero City Volgograd, where I do community service by taking part in volunteering and educational campaigns. I also love literature and history, have been writing research papers and taking part in academic excellence competitions on these subjects.

I am an active participant in the No Statute of Limitations movement; this movement includes several sections, such as research, search activity, organising and restoring museum space, and an essay contest. My mentor, a teacher of Russian language and literature, instilled the love of writing in me and, most importantly, supported my choice. We pay special attention to research and essay contests. Our entries always focus on stories about the children of Stalingrad and their heroic destinies.

Cinema is a very important and integral part of culture, because people can also learn by watching films. Therefore, I would like to propose that the best entries of the No Statute of Limitations contest be used as a basis for short film scripts and a proposal to show these films at schools as part of extracurricular activities in the format of a film lesson with a following discussion. A good film can do a lot to convey the right meanings. What do you think about this?

Vladimir Putin: I think your initiative should be supported, I do not doubt it even for a second.

First, thank you for being involved in such important work and such an important area that does not allow us to forget the tragic and heroic pages of the history of our people and our country.

Second, it should not simply lie on a shelf and be the property of a narrow group of those who deal with it. This should be the property of the whole country. The results of your work should certainly be promoted. I will ask my colleagues to definitely do this.

Alesya Zhuk: Thank you very much for this.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you.

Are we nearly done?

I want to thank all of you for today’s meeting, for the interesting questions and the useful discussion. This is also very useful for me, because this is exactly the feedback that you have probably heard about many times.

That is, it helps me understand what interests you, what concerns you, and helps both me and my colleagues understand what we do next, whether we are doing it right, and whether we are moving in the right direction, first of all, in matters of education. In general, it seems to me that we are succeeding quite well.

I want to once again congratulate you on the start of the academic year. You are amazing, very talented people. You have already achieved a lot, although you are only taking the first steps in the field to which you have decided to devote yourself. These steps are certainly successful.

I hope you will be able to build up your efforts on this path, and I wish you good luck, happiness and prosperity.

Congratulations on the start of the academic year!

September 1, 2023, Solnechnogorsk, Moscow Region