1 november 2010

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin holds a video conference with heads of the regions affected by wildfires in the village of Verkhnyaya Vereya

Vladimir Putin

At a video conference with heads of the regions affected by wildfires

“There are two points that I want to highlight. The first point, the first message is that the state does not leave people to face trouble on their own. And the second point is that the state is able to solve problems like this, on this scale.”

Transcript of the video conference:

Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, friends,

We've met twice already. The first time was the night after the fire, and I remember what the mood was like at the time. I've just seen a woman who almost drowned me in her tears that night. When I reassured her that we will take care of everything, she said: "You won't." I said, "We'll take care of everything and things will get better." "They won't get better," she said. But now she admits that we have kept our word and that things have gotten better.

This was a huge disaster. As a result of these awful wildfires, in the country in general... Well, opinions of this vary. Of course, some services could and should have done a better job - we must be straight about this - but in some cases it was simply impossible to save houses...

I spoke with victims of fires in the Moscow Region, and one man - a solid fellow, his own boss - told me: "For two days we were digging around the houses and took all possible fire-safety measures." But - he might see me on TV today, so I'll try to be precise - "then we heard the roar and rejoiced, thinking the planes were approaching to help us. But then I looked up and saw enormous flames. We threw our shovels down and ran away. We just barely escaped." Crown fires spread so fast and are so strong that sometimes they simply cannot be stopped.

But, let me repeat, this does not at all mean that precautions should not be taken or that the fire services should not be upgraded. It goes without saying that this should be done and should be done in good time and on the required scale. I hope that all this will be done. We'll do this at the regional and federal level. The money for this purpose has been allocated.

The wildfires damaged and destroyed more than 3,000 houses. When this tragedy occurred - and it was a tragedy and not only because many, including some of those present, lost property and housing, but also because people died - each family was supposed to receive 50,000 roubles under existing laws (Svetlana Vasilyevna remembers this; I was very surprised that she knew this before I even arrived). That was it. But we changed that figure to 100,000 per every family member for the loss of movable property from the federal budget and 100,000 roubles from the regional budget. Ten thousand roubles for incidentals were given right away. I must say I was impressed by the managers of the Vyksunsky Factory and want to thank them. They also set aside money - large sums for the purchase of furniture - and also offered substantial discounts.

It goes without saying that no amount of money can replace loved ones who died but still financial assistance can help - we gave a million roubles to families that lost members. Regrettably, several people could not be identified and their relatives were not located.

At that time we said that all work will be completed by November 1. This was my instruction to the regional and federal governments. Today, on November 1, all work has been completed and all houses have been built. Those who wished to receive new flats have received them. Practically all of those who wanted to be reimbursed for the lost housing have received compensation payment. I say "practically" because there are some exceptions, there are disputes, and these disputes are being handled by the courts.

I've received many letters addressed to my government office. I have read virtually all of them. People have questions and requests, which is only natural after such a disaster. They will all be reviewed. However, all disputed issues must be settled in court.

One man writes that he had a house with a floor space of 102 square metres but he received only 90 square metres. But according to a document from the Technical Inventory Bureau, only 30 metres were considered living quarters, the rest being a veranda and auxiliary premises. I'm not saying that this is the final word. I don't think I have the right to say any final words because all disputes must be discussed in courts.

However, one thing is perfectly clear. We will instruct the regional and municipal authorities to be very attentive to the needs of people. I take full responsibility for this. And of course, I'd like to express special thanks to the builders. I have just met with the heads of the construction companies. I hope you've seen with your own eyes how they were working. I was particularly impressed by one letter. The wife of a builder asked me to increase the food ration (lunch), as they say in the army. She wrote than the builders work for 12 hours, from the morning till night but receive a modest lunch. This shows that, first, wives are worried about their husbands, which is a good thing, and second, that their husbands work long hours.

I believe the work has been done well. I'm sure many of those present are not familiar with the new technology or materials. People must be shown how to use everything in the new houses.

Last time I was here I asked the builders and the regional government to deal with this. It makes sense to establish a kind of a managing company that would teach people how to use the new housing properly, teach them how to handle the new materials and equipment as soon as possible so as to avoid any damage.

Regarding the equipment: you probably saw it in some houses, too. I trust that all the necessary equipment has been purchased. As for electronics and household appliances (TVs, refrigerators and washing machines), everything was provided by the United Russia party as gratuitous aid. Many companies helped on their own initiative, which made me very happy. It showed once again the solidarity in the hearts of our people, their willingness to lend a helping hand. I believe this is extremely important.

However, there are two more important points I would like to address during our video conference regarding other regions. There are two points that I want to highlight, and I hope you will agree with me. The first point, the first message is that the state does not leave people to face trouble on their own. And the second point is that the state is able to solve problems like this, on this scale.

I can assure you that several years ago it would have been impossible: we had neither the money nor the technology. Not even the administrative system was set up to perform such large-scale work in such a short period of time and with such quality. And we can do it now. This means that our economy and administrative bodies are growing stronger. It means that they are becoming more and more efficient.

In general, I liked what I saw today. There are two regions left where work is ongoing, as you probably know. These are the regions the fires reached in September: the Volgograd Region and the Altay Territory. We still have some work to do there. We have to finish about 500 houses. I have no doubt that construction will be completed in time, both in the Volgograd Region and the Altay Territory.

As for your village, Verkhnyaya Vereya, workers have built 401 houses here, connected them to the gas lines, installed telephones and household appliances, and, I will repeat, helped to buy furniture. And the furniture is good. Svetlana Vasilyevna and I saw it and I liked it a great deal. It looked very comfortable. There is running water and sewage, and there are some additional generators to ensure that the power supply is stable. I hope that all these will work well and you will live happily ever after.

Let‘s take a look at what is happening in the other regions. We will start with Ryazan Region. Oleg Kovalyov is the governor there. Please, go ahead.

Oleg Kovalyov: Good afternoon, Mr Putin. Good afternoon to all of you.

Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, Mr Kovalyov.

Oleg Kovalyov: Mr Putin, what can I say? All houses have been built - 248 residences. People are moving in. They have occupied 71 flats and 169 people have been reimbursed for lost property.

Today all houses are ready. However, we still have two difficulties. We are laying a gas pipeline along the motor road to the village of Shakhmino and building another one along the bed of the Oka River. I think we'll switch on the gas in 10 to 12 days. But people are moving in there as well. We are heating their homes with electricity at our expense now to help them settle into their new homes.

Of course, now our main goal is to build the infrastructure. We are building seven basic medical centres, as well as other social facilities, and we are repairing kindergartens in those places where we have settled fire victims. This will be our primary concern.
Now that people have moved in, we'll build the infrastructure to make their life comfortable.

For instance, in Kriushi, where we are now, the Moscow government is building a social centre on your order. Work is underway. We are getting along well with the workers. They are meeting the deadlines. I think they will build a school in time (before the New Year) and other facilities soon after the New Year. So, the social centre is to be ready some time in January.
This is how matters stand, in brief.

Vladimir Putin: Mr Kovalyov, what public facilities or infrastructure have been built here where I am, in the village of Verkhnyaya Vereya in the Nizhny Novgorod Region? I've seen a post office and a new shop. A library will be built and a kindergarten for 50 children is under construction. It was mentioned today that the governor is going to build some other facilities. What will the social centre in Kriushi in the Ryazan Region have? What will it accommodate?

Oleg Kovalyov: I understand, Mr Putin. We also have a post office built here, not far from where we are. The social centre I mentioned will include a school, a kindergarten, a district hospital with an outpatient clinic, a cultural centre and a fitness centre. We will also build an administrative building, which will house a fire station and shops. This village has three shops and one more will be built nearby. As I've already said, the social centre will include all social facilities.

Vladimir Putin: I understand that the people around you are residents of Kriushi. Is this right?

Oleg Kovalyov: Yes.

Vladimir Putin: I'd like to speak directly with them. Do you have any wishes, comments or concerns that you'd like to share?

Remark: I would like to say something, Mr Putin. We have only one wish - a happy new life for everyone because we have nothing to criticise - it's surprising how quickly everything was done. We've moved into bright and comfortable houses that have gas and hot water. We didn't even have a water pipe before. I'll tell you straight - we are just happy! We can't believe our own eyes. I was drinking tea with my son in the kitchen today and the atmosphere was so bright and cheerful that we couldn't even believe we are in our very own home. So, from the bottom of my heart, I'd like to thank everyone who has contributed to this great undertaking.

Vladimir Putin: Excellent. Thank you. I wish you happiness in your new homes.

Oleg Kovalyov: Mr Putin, I'd like to say a few more words. First, fires were put out in Ryazan Region two weeks later than in other places and the state of emergency was lifted two weeks later... And the financial and economic conditions in Ryazan... It would have been very difficult for us to cope with the aftermath of the fires on our own. Therefore, on behalf of the residents of Ryazan (I hope they will all support me in this) I'd like to thank you personally and the federal government, and Moscow government for carrying part of the burden, for helping us because we would have hardly managed to cope with these difficulties on our own.

This tragedy has united many people. Today, people came from the Audit Chamber and gave us a certificate for the construction of a basic medical centre - almost all the villagers were present. But I'd like to thank you on behalf of all residents because you called me immediately and asked how things were. Second, you have taken very significant decisions that allowed us to build what we now have.

Vladimir Putim: Yes. Nevertheless, I urge you to continue paying the necessary attention to this and bring to completion all those projects that you find appropriate. We have spent significant funds on this. To address the problems caused by the fires, ten billion roubles were allocated from by the federal budget. These funds have been spent. Additionally, three billion roubles were provided by various companies and organisations. Funds were also allocated from the regional budgets... We need to ensure that these resources are used effectively and properly. Mr Kovalyov, thank you very much.

Mr Gusev, please. Voronezh Region.

Alexander Gusev (Deputy Chairman of the regional government): Good afternoon, Mr Putin. As reported earlier, 309 houses burned down and 711 people lost their homes in the Voronezh Region. As of today, we have paid compensation to all the victims. Thirty six families chose to receive new flats, 105 families were provided with financial compensation, and 184 houses are currently under construction. As of November 1, all the houses have been built and commissioned. The engineering infrastructure has been fully renovated, tested, and put into operation. We are also building 20 new infrastructure facilities worth about 1 billion roubles. These facilities will allow residents to enjoy modern conveniences. Your task has been fully implemented, Mr Putin....

Vladimir Putin: Thank you. And how are you dealing with the issue of providing people with furniture? Have you requested assistance from furniture companies? What has been done in this respect and what are you planning to do?

Alexander Gusev: Our regional furniture companies have offered a 50% discount to fire victims. Each person can choose a standard set of furniture from the company and receive a discount of up to 50%.

Vladimir Putin: Excellent. The man on my right and to your left, could you introduce yourself, please. What's your assessment of what has been done?

Nikolai Babkin: My name is Nikolai Babkin.

Vladimir Putin: Hello, Mr Babkin.

Nikolai Babkin: They did a great job, I am extremely pleased. All my family is very happy. We have running water, hot water, telephone. They have bought us a TV-set. Everything is very good. We are very happy.

Vladimir Putin: Do you have any complaints?

Nikolai Babkin: None at all.

Vladimir Putin: Very good. Enjoy your new home. Thank you.

Nikolai Babkin: Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: Moscow region, please. Governor Boris Gromov.

Boris Gromov: Good evening, Mr Putin.

Vladimir Putin: Good evening.

Boris Gromov: I would like to report that in the Moscow Region we have fully implemented all the plans, assignments, and schedules. We have built 159 houses. Most of them, 150 houses, were built right here, where we are meeting today - in the village of Beloomut in the Lukhovitsy district. All the houses have been commissioned and transferred to the residents. The houses are equipped with the necessary utilities, as well as telephones, internet access, and satellite television. Almost all of them have been supplied with furniture free of charge.

In addition, we have renovated two schools in the village so that it doesn't differ so much from the new neighborhood. We are also building a new cultural centre there and have renovated the old one. In addition, we have built five children's sports grounds and two hockey rinks. Also under construction is a kindergarten, which is scheduled to be commissioned at the end of November. All projects have been completed in full and at a high level. Your task has been implemented.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you.

Boris Gromov: Plus the village is now supplied with gas.

Vladimir Putin: So it has gas now?

Boris Gromov: Yes, it is fully supplied with gas. Your task has been implemented. All residents, and not just from the Beloomut village, are very grateful to you.

Vladimir Putin: You resettled people to this new neighborhood from other settlements, correct?

Boris Gromov: People living here are mostly from the village of Mokhovoye, which was completely destroyed by fire. There are also six families from the village of Kadonok, not too far from here. A total of 150 families.

Vladimir Putin: It's clear. There is a man in a light-coloured coat behind you. Please, could you introduce yourself?

Vladimir Kuchkin: Vladimir Kuchkin.

Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, Mr Kuchkin.

Vladimir Kuchkin: Mr Putin we met in the town of Vidnoye right after the fires. All the instructions you gave me are not just 100%, but, if it is possible to say so even 1000% fulfilled. It was difficult for the builders, and I want to thank them: it was very hard indeed, but they completed it before schedule. A lot of thanks to all of you. Thank you for not leaving people in trouble: humanitarian aid arrived from all over Russia. Here is my deep bow.

I would like to add for myself that the new houses are excellent, warm and supplied with gas. They are so warm that the temperature regulators have to be set at the lowest level. Everything is excellent! Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you. Was it you who told me that you thought it was a plane, but then saw that it was fire? Yes or no?

Vladimir Kuchkin: Yes.

Vladimir Putin: All right. I have just told your story.

Vladimir Kuchkin: Yes, that's how it was.

Vladimir Putin: Good. Thanks a lot. Good luck.

Vladimir Kuchkin: Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you, Mr Gromov.

Well, Oleg Korolyov, head of Lipetsk Region administration, please.

Oleg Korolyov: Good afternoon, Mr Putin. My report on the Lipetsk Region will start, as all those before me, with personal gratitude to you, the government of the Russian Federation, the Ministry of Regional Development, personally to the Minister Mr Basargin and his deputy Mr Korolevsky for such warm attitude to the people. This is what the people who suffered from this natural calamity asked me to do. And I am doing it with pleasure. Thank you, Vladimir Vladimirovich.

As for the report, your task to complete this work by November 1 has been performed in full, the housing has been properly constructed and the people relocated. And I am happy to report that your second task is also fulfilled. Your requests for housing and village construction always include the need for social infrastructure. All told, almost 55% of the allocated funds, including non-budget funds, were spent on social projects. I believe that infrastructure is also a social issue: 22 kilometres of roads, 16 kilometres of gas pipelines, 10 kilometres of water-supply pipelines, etc. A kindergarten for 80 children is to be completed soon. We have pooled our funds and will launch construction of a sports complex in Usman, where some of the victims will relocate. This is my report. The task is done. Thank you very much!

Vladimir Putin: Thank you, Mr Korolyov. And tell me please, are social facilities like medical institutions and a kindergarten planned for the village?

Oleg Korolyov: Mr Putin, considering such a comprehensive attitude on your part and on the part of those to whom you entrust social issues like schools, pre-school centres and hospitals, I mean the Ministry of Regional Development... We have just discussed the restoration of a church that was originally built way back in 1849. We even agreed to finish the project by the end of the next year. Thank you for your attention and support.

Vladimir Putin: Mr Korolyov, it's great that you are doing restoration work and are going to build these facilities. My information says that you have planned an obstetric centre and a kindergarten. So to add a church by the end of the next year is not bad at all. But here, in Verkhnyaya Vereya, the church will be restored by the end of the year.

Oleg Korolyov: Well, maybe in Verkhnyaya Vereya the Bolsheviks did not have enough time to damage the church so much as our church. We will try to restore it like the dozens of churches that are being restored with your help all around Russia and in our new-built district.

Vladimir Putin: Good, thank you very much. There are some people standing behind you, I would like to ask them. Do you want to say or add something or give your comments? You are welcome.

Remark: Good afternoon, Mr Putin.

Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon.

Remark: Some say that it is the eyes that see, but no, it is the heart. And your heart has felt the pain, distress and the disaster that the people suffered. And here is our huge gratitude to you for your wise and proper directives in this case. I also want to express my gratitude to Oleg Korolyov and Vladimir Mazo, head of our municipal district, to all the services which were most actively involved in the effort. And, you know, I just cannot find the words to express my feelings when I saw them bringing in the furniture in addition to the nice houses with all the amenities that we have received... You have done everything possible and even the impossible. This is my most profound gratitude. Please be our guest next summer.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you Mr Korolyov, thanks a lot!

Oleg Korolyov: Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you! All the best! Good luck!

Nikolai Merkushkin, Republic of Mordovia, please.

Nikolai Merkushkin (president of the Republic of Mordovia): Mr Putin, I would also like to inform you that we have followed your orders exactly and built 83 homes, where people moved in more than two weeks ago. Fire victims in Mordovia started moving in on October 1, a month earlier than everywhere else, and they are quite content. Heating is on. The new houses have been connected to gas, television, internet and fibre optic grids. Highways have been built, and a kindergarten is under construction and will open early next year. Shops and basic medical clinics have opened in every village affected by the wildfire, so the entire infrastructure is in place. A majority of fire victims did not want to leave their native villages, and we supported them in their decision.  

Almost all problems have been solved as of today, and every meeting shows that there are only some little things to do to make homes more comfortable. We are helping people with it all. The United Russia party has given every household a refrigerator, a television and a washer as gifts. So I think we have fulfilled your order. The republic has received close to 500 million roubles for fire relief - a huge sum, considering our budget. People are clear on everything. There are only several families still settling their problems with compensation - those who do not need new homes. I think we will finish everything in two or three weeks.

Vladimir Putin: Mr Merkushkin, as we have said many times when we met, Mordovia has no oilfields, no natural gas, gold or diamond deposits. However, essential social problems are resolved - and effectively. The capital of the republic has changed unrecognisably within a few years: a theatre has been built, and fine sports facilities that are the envy of even Moscow and St Petersburg. It is also very good that you have promptly responded to the wildfires and helped the victims. Something has to be done still about the social infrastructure, for instance, first-aid posts and kindergartens. Please pay special attention to this. Now, I would like to ask people standing by your side: are there any problems remaining? Please, go ahead.

Response: Good afternoon, Mr Putin. I would like to thank the government on behalf of all my fellow villagers for the concern it has shown. The government did not let us down during this difficult time, and we received generous aid. Thank you very much! We thank you personally, the construction workers and everyone who was taking part in the relief effort. We have received nice new homes. We are content and grateful. God grant your families health! We greet you all.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much. Are they really good houses? Don't forget they are built with new materials. What was your impression of them when you first went inside? Are they warm and comfortable?

Response: Yes, they are lovely - bright and comfortable, so thank you very much.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much, Mr Merkushkin.

Nikolai Merkushkin: Automated gas heating has been installed in all new homes. People know already how to control it. They don't need coal and firewood anymore. It's very convenient.

Vladimir Putin: I know. Thank you very much. Mr Nikolai Vinogradov of the Vladimir Region has the floor.

Nikolai Vinogradov (Vladimir Region governor): Good afternoon, Mr Putin, ladies and gentlemen. We are in Ivatino, where people from the Yuzhnoye and Kamenka villages have been resettled. This is really a good day: people are moving in to the 48 new homes left of the total 68. Another 20 families moved in on October 20. They have all the necessary amenities. More than that, Mr Putin, on your order and with your consent we have begun construction of another 24 homes for people whose houses survived the wildfire in Kamenka and Ivatino because the entire infrastructure was destroyed in these villages. We'll cope with this, too - by the mid December, I think.

Vladimir Putin: What will you do about surviving houses that people have to move out of?

Nikolai Vinogradov: We have approved a municipal programme that will transfer these houses into municipal ownership and provide new accommodations to their residents.

Vladimir Putin: Will they own their new homes?

Nikolai Vinogradov: Yes, they will.

Vladimir Putin: Very good.

Nikolai Vinogradov: Absolutely. Here is a family that moved from Yuzhnoye, so you can get firsthand information from them.

Vladimir Putin: Okay. Where are they?

Response: Good afternoon, Mr Putin.

Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon.

Response: We thank you for your concern about the people of the Yuzhnoye and Kamenka villages, which were destroyed by the fires, and for your decision to resettle the people of Yuzhnoye to Kamenka. We thank you, the federal government and Melenkovo district authorities of the Vladimir Region.

Vladimir Putin: Do you have a big family?

Response: There are five of us - three children. Here they are.

Vladimir Putin: I am sure that all promises will be fulfilled. We will certainly monitor the job. Now, Mr Vinogradov, what about social projects? I know you are planning to build sports facilities and a kindergarten. How is construction going on?

Nikolai Vinogradov: A playground is ready for the kids. To tell the truth, there are few children in those villages but I hope there will be more. We are planning a new kindergarten for 130 children and a fitness centre. A shop will open quite soon.

Vladimir Putin: Good.

Nikolai Vinogradov: The new homes have all modern amenities.

Vladimir Putin: Good. Mr Vinogradov, I have another question to ask about the new settlers whose houses survived the fire. How are you cooperating with government agencies about funding this part of the job?

Nikolai Vinogradov: Mr Putin, according to an agreement we have made with you, it will be entirely funded from the federal budget if it can afford it, and on a fifty-fifty arrangement if not. The region has enough money. We will finish construction in December for the people to move in.

Vladimir Putin: Good. Please pay special attention to it and report to me when construction is finished.

Nikolai Vinogradov: We will. Mr Putin, a lady is asking to speak. Can she?

Vladimir Putin: Yes, please.

Response: Mr Putin, we wanted you to come here, so we could invite you to our home for tea and cakes we have made in the gas stoves in our new homes. Since you can't come, my family would like to present you with this delicious cake.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you.

Response: We wish you health and every success.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you. Pass it to Mr Vinogradov please. I hope he will bring it to me whole and won't devour half of it on the way.

Nikolai Vinogradov: I won't! And I hope I'll be able to bring it before it gets stale.

Vladimir Putin: Okay. Thank you. What about the quality of the new houses? This question is for the Ivatino people. Please, go ahead.

Response: We are quite content. Thanks a lot! The houses are warm, bright and cosy. We have all the amenities. We had none in our old homes. We are very happy!

Vladimir Putin: I know that the villages had no infrastructure in the past, but I have received letters from people uneasy about the quality of the houses. They doubted the houses will stay warm and other such things. What can you say now?

Responses: It's very warm inside now. The thermostat is at the lowest point now but it's quite warm, all the same. We came in last night and switched the heating off, and it was nice inside when we came again this morning. It got warmer as soon as we switched it on for the slightest amount. The floor is warm enough to walk barefoot. We don't need slippers. It's wonderful! Thank you. We are happy!

I thank you, the president and the government on behalf of all the residents of the new Ivatino village. Thank you very much.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much for the cake and everything.

Now, Mr Vinogradov, let us say a few words about operating this new equipment. We have said that people must be taught how to use the new equipment properly. All the new residents should be taught as soon as possible to use the equipment the way the manufacturers specify.

Nikolai Vinogradov: Mr Putin, all the houses are distributed between relevant municipal services, and the necessary instructions have been made. More than that, the construction companies promise to provide maintenance services for five years if anything goes wrong. All this has been settled.

Vladimir Putin: Good. Thank you very much, Mr Vinogradov.

Mr Borovik of the Belgorod Region has the floor.

Vladimir Borovik (Belgorod Region deputy governor): Good afternoon. I would like to start by conveying the apologies of Mr Yevgeny Savchenko (Belgorod Region governor): he cannot attend because he is unwell.

Vladimir Putin: I hope he gets better soon.

Vladimir Borovik: Thank you. I will pass along your kind words. I am here to report on his order that the wildfires did not hit the region too badly: nine homes were fully destroyed and another seven were damaged and lost sheds and other such buildings. Seven houses have been built from the ground up, and all residents had moved in by September 15. Two people applied for compensation and have received them by now. Infrastructure development has been completed. All the houses were entirely furnished and had TVs, refrigerators, washing machines and other appliances, dishes, table and bed linen, etc. by the time the residents moved in. All this was funded from non-budgetary sources. Every home was ready to live in, so the people are extremely grateful to all who took part in the restoration of their homes.

Government-owned buildings have also been fully restored. The infrastructure is ready, and the construction workers have left the sites already. Water, electric, gas and other supply grids, the telephone and Internet - everything is available.

Mr Putin, I would like to use this occasion to thank you. We have a ministry that some people bear grudges against. That is the Ministry of Finance. Now, we want to thank the ministry for timely transfers of funding for the restoration of all fire-damaged property. That's all I wanted to say.

Vladimir Putin: I will certainly pass on your words to the minister of finance. He will be pleased - he rarely hears compliments in his ministry's address.

Do the new residents have any complaints about the quality and organisation of the work?

Vladimir Borovik: Mr Putin, our management and inspection agencies, and the public have been expressing their appreciation. The quality is very high. The homes are warm, nice and comfortable. Everything is fine. There have been no complaints about anything.

Vladimir Putin: Good. Thank you. Please tell  Mr Savchenko I wish him to get well soon.

Now is the Tambov Region's turn. Governor Mr Oleg Betin.

Oleg Betin: Mr Putin, as I have reported to you already, the homes that we promised to build by September 15 are ready, and the residents have moved in. All new houses have been passed into residents' ownership. The government registration papers are on my desk. So the whole job has been completed.

We have also pledged to supply prefabricated houses to the neighbouring areas - Mordovia, the Nizhny Novgorod and Volgograd regions. Ninety six out of 98 houses have been delivered so far. Though the deadline was November 15, we will dispatch the last two houses within two days. That is all I wanted to say.

Vladimir Putin: Excellent. You are even ahead of schedule. Thank you. Any complaints about quality?

Oleg Betin: No, Mr Putin. Thank you. It was a smooth team effort, and I am grateful not only to the Ministry of Finance but also to the Ministry of Regional Development, which stayed in contact with us on a daily basis.

Vladimir Putin: All right, Mr Betin. Thank you. I wish you every success.

Tula Region Governor Vyacheslav Dudka.

Vyacheslav Dudka: Mr Putin, the wildfires of July 27-29 affected 14 families - 21 persons, all told. Thirteen houses were burned down. Six new homes have been built on residents' request and four flats were purchased on the secondary market. Another four families have received monetary compensations. All planned work was completed by October 1. We are also building two fitness centres to open this year, and a kindergarten accommodating 125 children to open in the first quarter of 2011. There is also a district hospital and a school under reconstruction. My report is over.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much. Sverdlovsk Region Governor Alexander Misharin.

Alexander Misharin: Mr Putin, wildfires in the Sverdlovsk Region destroyed 21 homes in the villages of Vizhai and Saryanka. Thirty-two people have lost their homes. The people from Vizhai decided to move to the town of Ivdel. They have all received good flats and moved in by now. The people from the only surviving house in the village have also moved to Ivdel so that all the villagers stay together in the town. All new homes for Saryanka residents are ready, and the people are moving in. The latest technologies were used in the construction of these houses. The Saryanka residents decided to move to the village of Kuznetsovo, which has a good infrastructure with a school, a kindergarten, a hospital and a children's playground. So we think they made the right decision, and we gave them our support.

Vladimir Putin: Mr Misharin, property rights have not been established for one house. What's wrong with it?

Alexander Misharin: We have settled the issue at a meeting of the emergencies commission. The new resident has moved in.

Vladimir Putin: Good. Thank you, Mr Misharin. Mr Dmitry Fedotov from the Saratov Region .

Dmitry Fedotov (Saratov Region deputy prime minister): Good afternoon, Mr Putin. We had wildfires on September 2, which destroyed 52 homes and 58 flats. Fifty-three families, or 97 persons, have been affected. Forty-eight families chose monetary compensations, and have received them. One family's home has been restored with a new roof. The four families that chose new homes have moved in already - their homes were ready on October 22. The people have registered property rights and received the certificates. They have new furniture and everything else they need.

Gas and water pipes, 1.5 kilometres of electric transmission lines, 5 kilometres of roads, 18 kilometres of fibre optic lines and a sports ground have been built from scratch. No one has any complaints.

Vladimir Putin: Good. Thank you.

Ivanovo Region. Mikhail Men, please.

Mikhail Men (governor of the region): Mr Putin, the wildfires have destroyed 25 houses and affected 45 families in the Ivanovo Region. Of these, 30 have been provided with flats in two newly built brick residential blocks in the village of Mugreyevskoye. The others received monetary compensations. I checked personally: no one had any complaints. As for those two blocks, the first was finished on October 12, and the second, on October 22. On the 26th, I went there to hand in the keys personally.

We used non-budgetary funds for the purchase of household appliances for the people and the construction of a children's playground. We also resolved the main problem of the community, the road. Since it has a fairly large population - 850 people - and only 100 jobs to go round, the main jobs are all in a neighbouring village, Talitsy. We have built a road to that locality. I would like to convey  gratitude of the people affected by the wildfires, as well as of the residents of Mugreyevskoye.

Another good thing is that we have supplied piped gas to the community, reviving one more village because of the disaster.

Vladimir Putin: Mr Men, are there any issues left unresolved that you would like to see addressed?

Mikhail Men: We have a school there, an old one, Mr Putin. The rest of the infrastructure has been restored. It is now a functioning community, we have even repaired the bathhouse. And for each one of these 30 families that have received flats, we have built utility buildingsusing the same funds, as you said we should. That is to say, they now have utility buildings. As for the school, which was built in 1940, we will, of course, build a new one. This is our last remaining problem, which we will solve gradually.

Vladimir Putin: What are you planning to do with the school? When do you expect to start building new schools?

Mikhail Men: We have now commissioned design and budget documentation. There is no sense in restoring the old one, which was built in 1940, as I said. We want to have the documentation by next year and start building some time in the spring . For the time being we are considering our options.

Vladimir Putin: Good. Thank you, Mr Men.

Ulyanovsk Region. Alexander Yakunin, please.

Alexander Yakunin (first deputy prime minister of the region): Mr Putin, ourregion's Governor Sergei Morozov is in Moscow on business today. He asked me to report to you that your directive and that of the government have been fulfilled. All the people affected by the wildfires have received housing or monetary compensations. We turned over the housing to tenants on the 21st and the governor sent you a telegram to confirm this.

Mr Putin, today, on the governor's instructions and after hearing all the reports I would like to offer high praise for Mr Shoigu. In our region massive wildfires raged all summer, but we have saved our villages. Only one was damaged, with nine houses and 12 people or nine families affected. On October 21, six of them received new housing with all modern amenities. I would like to say that electricity, gas and telecommunications companies refused to accept payment and did everything at their own expense, also providing the Internet, telephone and other services. Of the 28 million roubles allocated to us from the federal budget, we have spent 9 million, and 19 million are left over. I would like to express my gratitude once again to you, Mr Putin and to Mr Basargin and Mr Korolevsky, because, to be honest, we have seen the tight control exercised over the whole project. Conference calls are still continuing though we have already reported that we have done everything - and we are still under a microscope. As for our people ... The oldest among them is Pelageya Ulanova, born in 1922. All of them have been moved from their village to the district centre of Inza, as well as families from four undamaged houses. The village residents were mostly elderly, so now they are very pleased. Thank you very much.

Vladimir Putin: Are there any issues you consider unresolved?

Alexander Yakunin: No, Mr Putin, we have resolved everything. We could not have done otherwise with such supervision. Nineteen million roubles is left unused. It would be good if we were allowed to spend it on some fire-fighting purposes or purchase equipment or build facilities not directly connected with fire prevention. To be honest, we would consider this to be right. The district centre has a hospital nearby, a chemist's shop and a school. This is not just to show that we have spent the money.

Vladimir Putin: Good, Mr Yakunin. Prepare a proposal and we will solve the problem. Thank you.

Alexander Yakunin: Thank you, Mr Putin.

Vladimir Putin: Alexander Mikhailov, governor of the Kursk Region.

Alexander Mikhailov: Good afternoon, Mr Putin. I would like to report briefly on the issue discussed. As you know, we managed to keep things under control during the wildfires. Only 18 people were affected. The toll was four houses that burnt down in a forest village and nine people have their outbuildings damaged.

Mr Putin, as scheduled, by October 10, we completed the construction of a house with all amenities for the person who wished to have such a house. We handed him the keys. Two people have received monetary compensations. Our legal services also helped a woman with involved inheritance problems. In just a few days the court will pass a ruling - she also wished to receive a compensation.

At the request of the locals, we have built a 2.5-kilometre road that now links this forest village with the central community and a regional motorway. That is to say we have done what the people have asked for.

Other villages have gas and electricity: they have not been affected by the wildfires.

Our only request, like the one voiced by the previous speaker, concerns the remaining money. With your permission, we would like to decide jointly with the Ministry of Regional Development how to use it sensibly.

Vladimir Putin: Good. Thank you for saving the money. Now let us consider reasonable ways of spending it. I am not opposed to that. Please submit your proposals.


I would like to say how much I appreciate the contribution made by regional leaders, municipal heads, as well as the builders involved in all construction projects, the companies and individuals who have shown empathy and volunteered to help the people affected by the disaster.

I would like to thank you all. We have shown what matters most. I'd like to repeat what I said at the beginning of our meeting.

First of all, we have proved that a tragedy of this magnitude can unite us. We have shown that the state does not leave people to face trouble on their own. The state is able to solve problems like this, on this scale, because it has the necessary resources. We have the money, the technology and the administrative resources needed, and we can organise and focus them to effectively address major and urgent problems. You have done this successfully, and I want to thank you for that.

At the same time I would like to draw the attention of officials at all levels to the fact that many current issues remain unresolved, judging by the letters I receive. This means we should not reduce our attention to people's problems and needs, and secondly, we should not leave things as they are. We have replaced or restored a lot of facilities including roads, gas and electricity supply systems, sewage, etc. However, there are other towns and villages that still lack this infrastructure. They should have it.

We still have work to do - not an emergency effort, but regular work. There is a lot to do, but you have already shown in this difficult situation that you are capable of handling large-scale goals.

Thank you very much. All the best, and thanks again.

Do you have any questions? (to the residents present) Do you have a question? What's your name? (to a young boy in the audience).

Answer: Anton.

Vladimir Putin: Do you like it here, Anton?

Answer: I do.

Vladimir Putin: I do, too. Have a nice day.

Remark: Thank you very much for coming here. I would like to thank you on behalf of the people of our vast country for all the help provided to us. I don't think anyone will object if I try to find the words to express our genuine and deep respect for you and our immeasurable gratitude.

Even the greatest optimists who live here have never entirely believed that this fantastic village could be built in such a short time on our land devastated by the wildfires. It is still hard to believe that the local elderly women will soon forget about stocking firewood. It is a dream village where everything has been taken care of.

Let me give you this woolen sweater as a token of our gratitude and appreciation.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much.

Remark: It was not just knitted from the best and warmest and downy wool: each stitch carries the local residents' affection.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you so much.

Remark: I am sure it will keep you warm. We are so grateful to you. We believe in you.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you, thank you very much. Take care of yourselves, good-bye.