At the beginning of the discussion, the President noted that the situation in the region was stable, with some indicators higher than the national average, but he drew attention to the decline in investment in fixed assets, noting that at the same time, investments in the metallurgical industry and in wood processing are increasing.
Oleg Kuvshinnikov reported that there were good results in terms of investment in the region: 199 billion rubles in 2019, 207 billion rubles in 2020, and 207.7 billion rubles in 2021, which was in fact a historical high. Steady development is demonstrated by Severstal, PhosAgro, a company producing mineral fertilisers, and a wood processing complex, which is the leader in Russia, ranking third in timber stock-piling with 76 percent being processed domestically. But there was a slight investment pause as export markets closed. Now new markets emerge; forest and smeltery products have been reoriented to alternative markets. The budget for 2023, 2024, 2025 has been drafted in the region. As the Governor said, this is a budget for development, not survival.
The Governor also reported on the execution of previous instructions. The main infrastructure project in the Vologda Region was completed on August 10: the Arkhangelsk Bridge, which gave a huge boost to the development of the Cherepovets metropolitan area, the region and the entire northwest. Today, construction of the utilities infrastructure has begun in the region for the heat, sewerage, water, and gas distribution systems. One of the largest schools in the Vologda Region, for 1,500 children, and a kindergarten are under construction, and the design of the largest polyclinic is being completed.
Another instruction was to widen the busiest highway in the Vologda Region, federal highway A-114 from Vologda via Cherepovets and Tikhvin to St Petersburg. This will be a phased expansion project to increase capacity from two to four lanes. The Governor asked the President to support this project.
They also discussed the construction of a small transport ring in Vologda, a project for the 880th anniversary of Vologda, which will be marked in 2027. Another project for the anniversary is the renovation of the Vologda Kremlin, the construction of which was started in 1566 by Ivan the Terrible. The renovation of all 19 historical sites in the Kremlin also needs support.
Vladmir Putin said that this should be discussed with the Government and promised to instruct the Executive Office to work on this issue with the regional administration and the relevant departments.
Oleg Kuvshinnikov also briefly reported on the socioeconomic indicators in the Vologda Region. Over the past ten years, regional budget revenues have tripled and reached a historical high of 159 billion rubles. The region ranks third among Russian regions in terms of budget revenue growth. Industrial output has also tripled, from 420 billion to 1.22 trillion rubles. In terms of the volume of shipped products per capita, the region ranks ninth among the 89 regions of Russia. The growth of agricultural production ensures food security. The unemployment rate is 0.9 percent, the number of job openings is more than twice the number of unemployed.
The Governor spoke about a mechanism to support municipalities in the region. These are urban councils. The decisions they make must be approved by a majority vote of residents in the municipality. The Governor takes part in such meetings, sees the support of the population, as a result, the necessary funds are allocated. Already 160 billion rubles have been additionally allocated from the regional and federal budgets. Almost 2,500 projects or facilities have been built or refurbished in all municipalities since 2014. All these city council meetings are streamed live, and this is a popular programme, when the budget is approved by the people.
Vladimir Putin stressed that this practice must be continued because people should feel like participants in the process and see that urban planning decisions are not made for unclear reasons but are based on the input of the people.
Oleg Kuvshinnikov mentioned another project: the People’s Budget. People send their projects to the local administrations, which raise them to the regional level, and the region funds their initiatives on sites. They are small projects: landscaping, playgrounds, sports grounds, wells, memorials, or repairs. It started with 66 projects and a very small amount of investment eight years ago. Now, over 1,300 projects based on popular initiatives are being implemented every year, more than 500 million rubles are allocated annually for these purposes.
The Governor also reported on support for the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics. The Vologda Region has signed an agreement with the city of Alchevsk (LPR) and has begun to restore the infrastructure, with almost 400 million rubles allocated for this, and repair and restoration teams have been sent. Roads, schools and preschools are being repaired, and work is underway to restore energy systems. Public transport vehicles are being purchased to replace some that were destroyed by the shelling of a trolleybus depot, and medical equipment is being purchased.
Oleg Kuvshinnikov also spoke about support for military personnel and their families who were taken under patronage to ensure their employment and financial support. This patronage will continue until the husbands and fathers return after completing the objectives of the special military operation, which the Governor called a sacred duty.
In conclusion, the President said that he would not talk about the issues that require special attention of the head of the Vologda Region, which the Governor knows about. Vladimir Putin expressed confidence that Oleg Kuvshinnikov would do everything he could to ensure that these issues are kept under his review and that he would work on them. The President noted that in general the situation in the region is stable and wished the Governor further success.