Prime Minister Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting in Ryazan on using GLONASS for the social and economic development of the Russian regions


“With the help of GLONASS we have launched two ambitious projects with a strong social focus: there will be a single emergency telephone number (112) which people can use to call rescue services, ambulances or the police and, as its logical extension, the Era-GLONASS urgent response service will be introduced for traffic accidents. Both aim to come to the rescue as soon as possible.”

Prime Minister Putin said during the meeting that the wildfires in Russia have shown that high-tech devices are not yet being used to their full extent to respond to emergencies. He called on those responsible to speed up the creation of a unified national system for emergency monitoring and response, to be based on the latest information and satellite navigation technology.

The Russian government is working on the concept for a new federal targeted programme GLONASS through 2020, said the prime minister, and called on all Russian regions to draft and approve regional GLONASS programmes in 2011. He promised to support the regions with federal funding, adding that the global GLONASS satellite group should be fully formed by the end of the year.

Mr Putin informed those present at the meeting on government relief efforts for regions affected by wildfires and suggested that the Federal Forestry Agency should be directly subordinate to the government of the Russian Federation.

Vladimir Putin's introductory remarks:

Good afternoon, colleagues,

We have long been planning this meeting to discuss the development issues of the GLONASS global navigation system. Naturally, we cannot bypass the problem of forest fires in the present situation because the Ryazan Region is among the most damaged areas in Russia. Sixteen localities have been hit by fire here. Fire has destroyed 309 houses, leaving 524 families homeless. I regret to say that there are lost lives, too.

We have to acknowledge, however, that reconstruction of lost housing has started in the Ryazan Region already. More than that, the first people who have lost their homes are receiving new housing as the regional governor is purchasing flats in the secondary real estate market. Regions can afford it as they have received allocations. This job is proceeding as it should.

At the same time, I want to remind the Ryazan regional administration and our other colleagues in the regions that we have agreed on the standards of relief. People who have lost their homes should be entitled to floor space no smaller than their houses destroyed by fire, with the exception of palatial mansions of several hundred or even a thousand square metres. Some people failed to register their property in time because they were evading taxes. It's a pity that such houses caught fire but their owners are alone to blame: if they were able to afford such houses they could also afford the insurance.

However, justice requires that these people, too, receive no less than the two million roubles I have mentioned for new houses. The people who have lost much more modest housing should, I repeat, receive accommodation of equal size to their houses destroyed by fire.

I have talked to people today. One of them said to me that he had a house of 49 square metres and was offered a 45-metre one now. Why not give him 50 metres? Will anyone get any poorer because of it? I repeat that people should not receive housing that is smaller than what they had before the fire. Second, monetary compensations for lost housing should be calculated proceeding from the lost floorspace and the local market price. If you had a house of 50 square metres, you will receive compensation for 50 metres if that is what you prefer, proceeding from market prices in the area where the house was located. Third, don't entangle people in red tape. If someone failed to get necessary papers in time, there are other ways to confirm ownership rights: eyewitness accounts, village councils' testimony, and so on. The law envisages such instances.

The same concerns families who shared houses. Please, pay attention to all these issues. I address the Ministry of Communications again: set up video cameras that will show not some corners and back roads but construction sites, so that everyone can see the progress for themselves, and this applies to the people and to us.

I ask you again to pay the utmost attention to the people. Meet with them, talk to them. Mr Kovalev (Ryazan Governor Oleg Kovalev) and I have just met with people - he can confirm this. After he heard people out, he said as he got into his car: "Now I understand certain subtleties better." So, believe me, such contacts do matter.

Moscow has volunteered to donate one to one and a half billion roubles out of its own reserve fund to the regions hit by wildfires. The Moscow mayor has got in contact with Ryazan and Voronezh already. These donations could finance housing construction by Moscow workers or infrastructure construction, including social infrastructure, which we have mentioned today. It might be a hospital, a school or a kindergarten, or again, a fitness centre.

We discussed assigning extra equipment to the Emergencies Ministry at the government presidium meeting yesterday, and made relevant decisions.

I have seen one of our new Be-200 aircraft in action today. It is very efficient. We will buy eight more such planes. They are expensive, about a billion roubles apiece, but highly effective.

We will also purchase extra helicopters, equip all government-owned helicopters with fire-extinguishing technology, and so on.

Now, let us pass on to the Moscow Region and Moscow. You know that the city is choking on smog. This has been happening for several years now because peat mining has stopped and peat bogs have been abandoned. There is no one to maintain them.

I have just talked to the Moscow Region's governor. We are allocating another 300 million roubles from the federal budget to flood the most dangerous pockets of fire and irrigate the area later. I hope the necessary jobs will be done to minimise the damage of peat fires that may occur in later years.

Next on our agenda is the Federal Agency for Forestry. Regrettably, many interdepartmental issues have not been regulated as they should be, and so impede the work of many agencies to protect forests and prevent emergencies. This is why I think it expedient to put the Federal Agency for Forestry into direct subordination to the federal government. A relevant proposal will be submitted to President Dmitry Medvedev. I am telling you this for you to find your bearings in your localities and arrange your work with the agency accordingly.

Now, let us pass on to our main subject, the subject we have gathered today to discuss. We will talk about using the GLONASS system in the interests of the regions' social and economic development, particularly in the critical field of enhancing the efficiency of emergency and rescue operations, repairs and medical services. The difficult situation with wildfires has shown that state of the art technology is not used enough at present to respond to emergencies. As I said, we discussed the provision of additional equipment and aircraft to the firefighting services at the government presidium meeting yesterday. The decision has now been adopted.

From now on, we should specifically focus on this subject and speed up the process of setting up a nationwide system of emergency monitoring and response. This system must be based on advanced information and satellite technology, especially since we have at our command the potentialities of the GLONASS global navigation system.

Today, only two countries - Russia and the United States - can independently meet their requirements in satellite navigation and pursue an independent policy in this area, that is, to guarantee their navigation sovereignty.

According to international experts, the realisation of a project like this confirms the country's high-tech status. I would like to remind you that our European colleagues are currently developing the Galileo system and our Chinese friends are working on the Compass system. But these are long-term projects as the systems will not become available until 2015. Meanwhile, we should keep our tempo up and not fall behind in our progress. We should proceed as we are doing now, keeping half a length ahead. The ability to implement such projects and generate unique know-how is a sign of a modern state.

This is not only a matter of prestige or technological leadership: GLONASS should help the economy in a real and meaningful way and give us a competitive edge.

As you know, we have prioritised the national navigation system. The defence and civilian aspects of this programme are equally important for us. For reference I can say that something like 48 billion roubles will be invested in the GLONASS space and ground infrastructure in 2010 and 2011.

Currently, the GLONASS signal is available throughout the whole of Russia. Before the year's end, we plan to launch six more satellites and thus complete our space constellation. No fewer than 24 to 28 spacecraft will be constantly orbiting the Earth. A strong GLONASS signal will be picked up in every spot of the globe, and this means the system will be truly global. I can add that in December 2010 we are starting flight tests of a new generation spacecraft, the GLONASS-K, with better quality characteristics and a longer service life. At the same time, our engineers are developing ground receiving devices, software, and packages of unclassified navigation maps. To coordinate efforts in the civilian use of GLONASS, a special federal network operator has been set up, Navigation Information Systems.

Russia is also pro-active in gaining a presence in world markets. We have some promising niches there. For example, we have concluded GLONASS cooperation agreements with Ukraine, Belarus, India, Cuba, Kazakhstan and several other countries. Naturally, the civilian navigation signal will be provided to consumers free of charge and without restrictions.

The undoubted advantage of the Russian-made navigation system is its ability to pick up signals both from GLONASS satellites and the US GPS, which guarantees not only a stronger signal, but also independence from the monopoly provider of navigation services.

But I will repeat: the most important thing for us is to establish an extensive domestic market so that up-to-date satellite navigation and the opportunities it offers are used on a large scale across Russia. The technology is simple and easy to understand, while investments in it, including new ideas, could be profitable for cargo carriage monitoring, the Emergencies and Interior Ministries, medical services, property registration, and oversight of sophisticated engineering structures, such as bridges.

I have been to the Far East on many occasions. We have been observing the construction of a campus for a future Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, and related infrastructure. I am referring to the bridge linking Russky Island with the mainland. That bridge has 30 GLONASS sensors mounted on it. That is to say, the satellite system will constantly monitor the condition of the bridge, any vibrations, etc. This is just an example of how the system can be used.

The system affords a new approach to traffic flows, municipal transport and emergency services. It increases safety of operations, reduces production costs and makes for better planning of towns and cities.

At the same time, only 10% of our transport vehicles take advantage of the opportunities offered by the Russian navigation systems and we should significantly speed up the process.

The law on satellite navigation stipulates that a large variety of vehicles and other means of transport are to be equipped with navigation systems starting from 2011. New technical regulations contain relevant requirements to means of transport, such as the water and high-speed rail transport.

With the help of GLONASS we have launched two ambitious projects with a strong social focus: there will be a single emergency telephone number "112" which people can use to call rescue services, ambulances or the police and, as its logical extension, the Era-GLONASS urgent response service will be introduced for traffic accidents. Both aim to come to the rescue as soon as possible. The Era-GLONASS must be operational across the country by 2014.

In addition, I would like to point out to you and the relevant government agencies that starting from 2012 all new cars could be sold with built-in navigation systems to make Russian roads safer.

The government is working on the draft of a new GLONASS federal target programme until 2020. Its main goal is practical application of the new technology.

And, of course, we hope that the regions and all of you present here will take an active part in this project.

We have excellent examples of successful application of navigation systems for local needs in Moscow, St Petersburg, the Krasnodar Territory, the Novosibirsk Region and Tatarstan. Here in Ryazan, we have also visited a modern satellite situation centre. The relevant work is underway. However, there are some general, systemic problems here. What are they?

First, people in the regions know little about the opportunities offered by GLONASS. This, as I already said at the presentation in the satellite situation centre here, in Ryazan, is within the competence of the Federal Space Agency. We have to foster closer cooperation with the regions and promote public awareness efforts to show people what this system is capable of and what practical advantages it has.

Second, the regions often lack a comprehensive approach to the introduction of navigation systems. Each of them launches navigation systems independently, in its own way, which leads to the inconsistency of technical and software solutions in governmental agencies, regions and local governments. For example, when ambulances or police cars leave their region, traffic control services cannot monitor them. Here in Ryazan they are monitored only within the region's boundaries.

We should integrate all local, regional and federal navigation and information systems and ensure efficient interaction for emergency services in the near future.

So I think that all constituent entities of the Russian Federation must develop and adopt their regional programmes of the use of GLONASS by 2011. The Ministry of Regional Development, the Federal Space Agency and other relevant federal agencies should, no doubt, provide all necessary assistance to local governments.

In addition, we should establish strict evaluation criteria for the regional authorities related to the introduction of the navigation technology.

Third. Some say regional and local budgets lack money to implement such projects.

I would say that such systems quickly pay their way. It seems we never have money for the most important projects, and these projects, I am certain, are very useful both today and in the future. At the same time, I must admit that local governments will continue complaining about the shortage of money until they realise the projects' importance. We must help them, of course, and we are ready to study various ways to offer support.

The Ministry of Regional Development and the Ministry of Finance must work on this issue together and make specific proposals.

Let's get down to work.

* * *

Concluding remarks by Vladimir Putin:

It is common knowledge that GLONASS, a global navigation system, is a dual application system. Without systems of this kind, it is impossible to develop modern arms, modern means of warfare, and high-precision weapons. It is indeed impossible.

But this system also has great social and economic significance. I am not going to recapitulate all its advantages: enough has already been said about them, and new proposals have been made. I wish to thank all those who have taken part in today's meeting, above all heads of Russian regions, for their analysis of the situation and for the proposals they submitted. We will take those proposals into account in the protocol decision.

On the whole, the project is developing successfully. As our priority we have chosen economic modernisation and high technology. Now GLONASS is high technology in the direct and indirect sense of the word, a technology essential for the country's modernisation.

We have already spent 60 billion roubles on this project. Its spending peak is past, because the basic satellite constellation is in place. Very soon, we will make it complete, total and global.

Now we need to take another step together: to make the system economically profitable and effective. 

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