President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Beglov, good afternoon.
I suggest that we discuss your team’s performance in developing St Petersburg and the priorities in this context. I would like to hear a progress report on the adopted plans and what kind of additional support the city needs from the federal centre.
However, I cannot fail to mention a date that will always remain sacred to us, just like June 22, 1941. I am talking about September 8, when the encirclement of Leningrad was completed and the siege started. Just a few days after this deadly ring closed around the city, the legendary Road of Life across Lake Ladoga opened.
It goes without saying that across the world, let alone in Leningrad, St Petersburg or Russia, everyone knows about the resilience and courage of the people of Leningrad. This strikes our imagination. Our entire country and people will always remember the feats of the people of Leningrad.
Supporting the siege survivors is our sacred duty and moral imperative. To mark the 80th anniversary of the Road of Life, I propose paying out a one-time benefit to all citizens of the Russian Federation who were awarded the medal “For the Defence of Leningrad” or holders of the “Resident of Besieged Leningrad” badge permanently residing in Russia, as well as in the Republic of Latvia, Republic of Lithuania, Republic of Estonia, and in the republics of Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Transnistria.
The benefit will amount to 50,000 rubles. I am asking you, together with the federal agencies, to pay special attention to matters related to processing these payments so that people receive them in due time without any red tape or excessive paperwork.
In addition to this, I would like to inform you and all St Petersburg residents about Gazprom’s long-standing efforts to transfer its headquarters to St Petersburg. The buildings required for this have already been erected, and the city residents have every right to be proud of them. So here is the news: Gazprom will register in St Petersburg for taxation purposes, enabling the city budget to generate an additional revenue of 17 billion rubles this year, and about 40 billion next year. Let me reiterate that we are talking about additional revenue that the city did not receive before.
Of course, these funds must go towards priority urban development projects. You and I have already discussed this. I would like this revenue to be transparent so that people, the residents of St Petersburg, can see that the city budget has obtained a substantial source of revenue, and so that they understand what effect these funds are having.
Of course, we will also discuss other routine matters. But right now I would like to hear from you, since I have asked you to think in advance, about what these funds might be used for.
Go ahead, please.
* * *
First of all, Alexander Beglov told the President about the measures to counter the pandemic in the city. He said 31,000 healthcare workers have been involved in fighting the virus and have been supplied with everything they need. City residents have received free medications and easy access to vaccines. Supported by the federal centre, St Petersburg is upgrading 87 outpatient clinics, and 59 laboratories are providing PCR tests. In 2020, the city quickly opened three transformable inpatient facilities with 1,000 beds. The city will open another transformable inpatient facility with 400 beds in December. As of today, over 1.5 million people have been fully vaccinated; 5,163 beds for virus treatment have been deployed in 14 hospitals. Twenty-four percent of them are vacant.
The Governor also told the President about metro construction. Initially, the city planned to channel about 20 billion rubles into this project starting in 2022. But given the new revenues from Gazprom, the annual funding for metro projects will increase to 50 billion rubles. This will allow the city to open three new stations in 2024.
Regarding other projects that will be carried out with additional funds, Mr Beglov mentioned the construction of a new 1,570 metre-long drawbridge, with approaches and interchanges, across the Neva River, and the development of Kronstadt as a cultural, tourist and patriotic centre in cooperation with the Defence Ministry, the Russian Government and investors. Total investment in the modernisation of Kronstadt will be about 75 billion rubles in the first phase.
The Governor told the President that today he met with siege survivors and war veterans, and laid a stone in memory of the teachers of besieged Leningrad. He also reported to the President about the fulfilment of his instructions to build an institute on siege studies. This institute was opened on September 7, on the eve of the 80th anniversary of the start of the Siege of Leningrad. The new facility will offer a powerful modern multimedia research centre devoted to the Siege of Leningrad.
* * *
Vladimir Putin: You talked about the measures being taken by the city to counter the COVID pandemic. It is necessary to be vaccinated in a timely manner.
Some of my colleagues in the protocol department, the security service, and the press service did not do this as soon as they could have and did not watch the protective titres, and here is the result – we have been forced to work in isolation for a certain time.
But this is not the most important thing. The main point is that if you are infected, vaccinated people do not become seriously ill and have no complications. It is simply necessary to bear this in mind and, of course, not only in St Petersburg but throughout the country.
We will discuss the other issues in working order.