The meeting was attended by Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Anton Vaino, First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov, First Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Sergei Kiriyenko, deputy prime ministers Viktoria Abramchenko, Tatyana Golikova, Alexander Novak, Alexei Overchuk, Marat Khusnullin, Dmitry Chernyshenko, Deputy Prime Minister – Chief of the Government Staff Dmitry Grigorenko, Deputy Prime Minister – Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov, Deputy Prime Minister – Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District Yury Trutnev, Presidential Aide Maxim Oreshkin, Minister of Economic Development Maxim Reshetnikov and Minister of Finance Anton Siluanov. A number of ministers and heads of regions of the Russian Federation, as well as heads of the Federal Agency for Forestry and the national grid company Rosseti were invited to attend the meeting.
Minister for Civil Defence, Emergencies and Natural Disaster Relief Alexander Kurenkov reported on wildfires and floods, and the effort to improve fire safety regulations and social support measures for the victims of natural disasters. He assured the meeting participants that the forces and resources of the Unified State System for Prevention and Response to Emergencies were monitoring the situation to ensure safety during wildfires and floods.
At the President’s request, Kamchatka Territory Governor Vladimir Solodov described the situation after the recent eruption of the Shiveluch volcano where ash emissions reached a height of up to 20 kilometres. The heavy ash fall affected three villages. There is no threat to the life and health of the people, and the Emergencies Ministry and territorial communal services crews are clearing roads and helping local people clean their houses and social facilities. The Governor said he hoped to receive assistance from the federal authorities because the amount of ash that is still on the ground is 10–12 cm high.
Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak reported on social gasification. The average access level should reach 74.7 percent by 2024. It was 73 percent on January 1, 2023, he said.
Minister of Agriculture Dmitry Patrushev reported on the work of the Russian agro-industrial sector, spring fieldwork, material and technical resources for the sowing campaign, import substitution in seed production and measures to ensure stability in the domestic fertiliser market. He focused separately on the course of spring fieldwork in the new regions of the Russian Federation. The Minister said winter crops for the 2023 harvest have been planted on about 1.3 million hectares, of which 95 percent are in good or satisfactory condition. He said these regions are even doing a bit better than the national average. In his estimate, in 2023 the grain harvest, including the new regions, will total about 123 million tonnes, including 78 million tonnes of wheat. This will allow Russia to ensure national food security and continue supplying its foreign partners with agricultural products under its commitments.
Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova spoke about intensive preparations for a summer children’s health-building campaign. Under the plan, in 2023 over 38,000 children’s leisure and recreation organisations will work in the country, including the new regions – the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics and the Zaporozhye and Kherson regions. This will make it possible to reach over 5.1 million children throughout Russia – a little more than in 2022.
In addition, the participants discussed issues of developing the new regions.
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Excerpts from transcript of meeting with Government members
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues,
The programme to improve reliability of the power grid is our main topic today. Our speakers are Minister of Energy Nikolai Shulginov, Novgorod Region Governor Andrei Nikitin and Rosseti CEO Andrei Ryumin.
However, I would like to start by saying that the Government, as you may be aware, is about to complete the drafting of a programme to develop the new regions. In this regard, I would like to point out that this programme should, of course, lay out the federal ministers and deputy prime ministers’ direct responsibility for the final result, which, of course, can only exist in the form of improvements in the situation and public sentiment, in the way our citizens residing in the new territories assess what is being done by the local authorities and the Russian Federation Government.
Here is what I would like to say. Together with the Prime Minister and some deputy prime ministers we have approached this issue on several occasions. The regional authorities are responsible for tackling a large number of issues, but this is not a traditional situation, and I want you to keep this in mind. Without support from the federal centre, the local leaders will not be able to address the complex issues which, without exaggeration, have been piling up in these territories for decades and have been exacerbated in connection with today's events and the events of the last eight years.
Therefore, please deal with this with full responsibly and understanding that there is no other way to resolve the extremely complex issues plaguing these regions. Also, please do not shy away from addressing these issues, even if they are not within your purview formally. All the same, your responsibility is decisive.
In this regard, I will ask Mr Khusnullin to say a few more words about this.
Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin: Mr President, colleagues,
This programme has been fully approved; it’s a large document that includes over 300 events, with over 1,000 facilities to be repaired or constricted. Twenty-one federal executive government bodies have approved it. All executives and ministers are aware of it. Recently, the Prime Minister and deputy prime ministers came to terms on all the differences they had. The programme is ready for release. We are ready to work on it.
This concludes my report.
Vladimir Putin: All right.
I know that you personally visit these territories and see everything with your own eyes. We recently discussed all the problems of economic and social development with heads of these regions – our colleagues all know about this.
I would like to draw your attention to the following: I am sure you know that literally a day ago I went to both the Kherson Region and the Lugansk People’s Republic. There are many issues there, but I will not go back over them. The goal of the trip was to meet with the military. I did not want to take them away for a long time or far from the units they command because the situation requires their presence, of course.
But I would like to draw your attention to one point. I think this is common knowledge, but just in case, I will tell you what I am referring to. I went through the Gukovo checkpoint and saw many transport vehicles there. There are few vehicles on the roads, which are more or less clear, but there are a lot of vehicles at checkpoints. Moreover, these are mostly civilian heavy trucks, not even military vehicles.
Of course, it is necessary to look at this and fix it because there is also a cargo delivery problem – we will talk about this, of course, about the prices in these territories and what should be done in this respect. I repeat, I have seen what they are carrying – humanitarian goods. They are full of practical goods. I wonder what they are not carrying!
Meanwhile, the solution is simple. We need to expand this checkpoint and thus, we need to ensure security. Both special services and law-enforcement bodies will ask the Government for support in this context because it is necessary to increase the number of inspection complexes and, of course, security is above everything else. But the number should be increased. And, apparently, or rather certainly, it is also necessary to increase the number of personnel working there. I am referring to staff numbers at these points.
To resolve the first issue they will approach the Government asking for money, and with the second issue – staff increase – they will also turn to the Government. I understand we have nothing extra, but this must be done regardless.
I can see that roads are being repaired there. However, when it comes to driving around the checkpoint itself (the checkpoint is to your left on the way there, and to your right on the way back), I can tell you that not just driving but even walking will be a problem there soon. First, it is narrow and, second, there is almost no such thing as a road there. I am not sure how private vehicles manage to navigate that area, since some of the vehicles, utility vehicles and cars drive around the main checkpoint. It is not driveable. This place needs to be brought up to standard as soon as possible. Mr Khusnullin, please talk to road builders. It should not be a problem to do it. It will not require any extra efforts.
I can see that other sections of the road are being repaired, and the top layer has been removed. The road is in fair condition overall. Of course, it is nothing like the motorway connecting Rostov-on-Don with the Gukovo checkpoint, where there is traffic day and night. The motorway going from Rostov-on-Don is an excellent modern expressway. However, the situation is quite different in these territories, just like it was in Crimea at one time. Much remains to be done there, this goes without saying. However, we must address the most glaring problems that cannot wait, and this can be done fairly quickly. Please focus on it and have it done. Agreed?
Marat Khusnullin: Yes, Mr President, we will do everything.
Vladimir Putin: I am sure you have been there several times and seen what it looks like.
Marat Khusnullin: Mr President, we are well aware of this issue. In fact, we teamed up with the border service to increase the throughput of some checkpoints by six to eight times, but this is still not enough. The traffic is overwhelming. We will do it and launch new checkpoints and new roads. We have all of that included in our plans. The Ministry of Transport was instructed to work on the throughput capacity in conjunction with the border service. We have issued all the instructions, and we will make everything happen.
Vladimir Putin: I am not sure about other checkpoints, since I did not go there. I passed through the checkpoint I mentioned, though, and I saw what it looks like. You say you increased the throughput six-fold, which makes me wonder what it looked like before. I did not see anything that looked like it was noticeably increased. Maybe it was, I am not sure.
But the detour that is used by cars and utility vehicles is simply a disaster. There is no road as such there. This must be done immediately, ok?
Vladimir Putin (commenting on Minister of Agriculture Dmitry Patrushev’s report): Mr Patrushev, you and I have discussed the new regions, and you mentioned them at the end of your report. You are aware of my position: if Russia, other Russian regions, need to provide more investment then, of course, it must be provided. But we must support the locals who work in agriculture, in this case, which includes farmers and major processors. The focus must be on them even without mentioning that they may need some assistance. If they need something, go ahead and help them get it. I am talking about loans, leasing, fuel and lubricants, and fertilisers. We need to focus on this first and foremost.
Here is what I would like to bring to your attention. Earlier, during the meeting, I mentioned my trip to the Kherson Region and the Lugansk People's Republic. Here is what caught my eye. I have not seen so many old cars like Ladas or Zhigulis in a long time. This tells us that people there live on rather modest incomes. The car fleet brings up certain thoughts. At the same time – it probably varies by locality, but what I saw – and we covered quite a long distance, and I am talking about what I saw – everything looks clean and neat meaning that the local people are disciplined and hardworking but need real help.
I just spoke about incomes, and it’s obvious, it’s absolutely evident that incomes there are clearly modest, while prices are even higher than in the Rostov Region. This imbalance – I would like to draw the attention of Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin and Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin to this, we need to think about the pace …clearly, this cannot be done in one day. And clearly, income levels are tied to the level of economic development. This is the path forward which we should follow. However, there are things that can be done fairly quickly and which are part of your scope of duties, such as providing support to agricultural producers, expanding the capacity for local processing of agricultural products, investing funds or making it possible for the local people to bring in investment from other regions and to create storage facilities for the local produce, which will be made available to local residents during the autumn-winter period or shipped to other Russian regions, which will help the region make some money and raise the standard of living of the local residents.
There is a wide range of things that can be done and done quite quickly. Incidentally, breaking the bottlenecks at the checkpoints is also a way of reducing tensions in the food market and other consumer markets as well, for that matter. All this must be looked into and done, especially since, to reiterate, with regard to long-term projects, yes, it will clearly take time, but things that can be done now or very soon must be done no matter what. Please pay attention to that. This concerns other Government members as well. The Prime Minister and I will pick this matter up later. <…>
This may concern you much less than others, but, unfortunately, the situation there [in the new regions] in some districts is fairly complicated in terms of the crime rate. Law enforcement agencies there are making greater effort and are working more efficiently, but if there are issues concerning damages, I would like your Ministry to give it some thought and come up with proposals in this regard.