17 january 2011

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting on Russia’s sport and fitness strategy through 2020 in Novogorsk, outside Moscow

Vladimir Putin

At a meeting on Russia’s sport and fitness strategy through 2020 in Novogorsk, outside Moscow

“The programme is intended to promote the value of a healthy and active life in the community, to support the development of sport and, naturally, of athletic achievement, and to attract more people of different ages, backgrounds and income levels to athletics, including those with limited physical abilities."

Transcript of the beginning of the meeting:

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.

To begin, I would like to share my impressions of what I saw here today in Novogorsk. I was pleased to see the new ice rink and winter sport centre. It is beautiful and functional. As far as I know, our top athletes like it. This is where our youth hockey team trained before its confident performance at the Canadian competition. I am glad to have this opportunity to congratulate them once more on their victory.

I would like to inform you that a government order was signed today establishing the organising committee for another world athletic event, the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The committee will assume essential organisational duties, tackling problems such as the coordination of Russian regional governments and agencies with our partners abroad, as well as the organisation and media coverage of the championship itself. A supervisory board will be established under the committee to oversee its work. I have asked the Ministry of Sport and Tourism to submit its proposals on board membership within a month.

Now, I propose to analyse the implementation of the development strategy for fitness and sport in Russia through 2020. We will also hold a videoconference with our colleagues in the Novosibirsk, Tula, and Perm regions and see how our work is progressing at a local level.

The development strategy for fitness and sport was adopted in 2009. We all know that it was a hard year – particularly in terms of maintaining economic growth rates and macroeconomic indices – because of the crisis and all of its negative consequences. However, we did not shelf this project, which was of critical importance for millions of our citizens and, above all, the Russian youth. The programme is intended to promote the value of a healthy and active life in the community, to support the development of sport and, naturally, of athletic achievement, and to attract more people of different ages, backgrounds and income levels to athletics, including those with limited physical abilities. It is essential that regular exercise and abstinence from pernicious habits become the norm for a majority of our people. I see in that goal a true accomplishment for each man and woman and, without exaggeration, for the people of Russia as a whole.

I would like to remark in that regard that our coordination with regional and municipal governments and public organisations has yielded positive results overall. As compared with 2008 – we will not draw comparisons with 1913, as statisticians often do, but rather talk about the recent past – the number of people engaged in regular exercise has grown by two million. Now, almost 25 million people regularly visit gyms and stadiums in this country. According to our plans, that number should exceed 42 million by 2015 and perhaps even approach the level of our European neighbours, roughly 70% of whom exercise regularly. Mass sport must become truly accessible to all, which means that we need to develop its infrastructure. Ideally, local athletic venues should be available everywhere.

Close to 300 new federally funded facilities opened last year, including football fields, fitness centres and training grounds for teams of all levels. All told, Russia currently has over 243,000 athletic venues catering to 6.3 million people at any given time – that's 200,000 people more than in 2008. As I have said, there is still ample room for progress. Our success has been modest. However, the positive trends are evident. I would like to say in that regard that this is only the beginning of a large-scale project. Much remains to be done. We must make sizeable investments. This is doubtless one of our priorities.

In this regard, I would like to note that the expenditure on physical fitness and sports is a separate item in the budget for 2011. We had lengthy debates with the Ministry of Finance and finally arrived at this decision. Superficially, this may appear to be a technicality, but the truth is that these funds were redirected from healthcare. Now we can understand how much we spend on physical fitness and sports. It will be easier for the State Duma to make decisions and for the ministry to work based on this. The government plans to allot 90 billion roubles for these purposes over three years, providing the largest disbursement, 39.5 billion roubles, in 2011.

I would like you to focus on a series of priorities outlined in the strategy for sports, first of all, the promotion of sports, in particular among children and teenagers. It is clear that physical education needs improving, and teachers should take advantage of new methods to make lessons interesting and useful. For these purposes, it is necessary to introduce new programmes and modernise schools’ sports infrastructure. A construction plan for a new school building must include a gym and a swimming pool. We also need to expand the network of fitness complexes and junior sports clubs.

Moving on, the achievements of our best athletes and national teams and Russia’s hosting of major international competitions are very good drivers for sports promotion. This is why we submit our bids to host such competitions. We understand that they offer an excellent opportunity to develop regions and promote sports values in society.

Soon, in 2013, Kazan will host the Summer World University Games. I’m sure that the specialists, in particular those present here today, are familiar with the figures but the public probably doesn’t know them. I’d like to remind you that 11,000 athletes will participate in the University Games. That’s twice as much as in the Sochi Olympics. It’s because summer sports traditionally outnumber winter sports. We expect about 5,000 to 5,500 athletes to take part in the Winter Olympics – half the number of participants in the University Games.

There will certainly be more guests and journalists at the Olympics since these competitions are more prestigious. But I repeat, the number of participants in the University Games will be twice as big, and we need to prepare the infrastructure necessary for them.

After the University Games, Russia will host the 2014 Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Sochi and the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Our main goal is not only to prepare properly for and hold these competitions up to the highest standards but also to ensure that our national team performs well. We must keep in mind that international sports competition becomes tougher every year. We need to move with the times, taking advantage of new standards in the industry and innovative training technology.

In 2011, 2.5 billion roubles will be allocated for sports medicine alone, which is several times more than in the previous years. For example, in 2010 we provided only 130 million roubles for these purposes. Each Russian athlete preparing for the Sochi Olympics should have an individual health support plan.

Ultimately, we’ll need to overhaul the national qualification system and bolster the network of sports schools for reserve Olympic teams, getting top specialists involved, including specialists from abroad and our compatriots who work outside Russia. I’ve just spoken with the coaches of the Russian national figure skating team. One of them returned to Russia from the United States after working there for 16 years. He says he likes it here so far. Hopefully, the results will also be good. I think it’s a pleasure to work in such good conditions. There is nothing reprehensible about attracting international coaches. We should only ensure that they are the best. If we want the best coaches and athletes to play in Russia and for Russia, we need to provide all the necessary conditions for them. The yardstick of training effectiveness is the number of world and European champions and the number of gold medal winners at other prestigious competitions. We do have excellent specialists.

I have already mentioned that our junior ice hockey team has recently scored an impressive victory over the strong Canadian team.

We have just seen a training session of the women’s ice hockey team. I hope, they’ll raise their game and perform well. We also watched our figure skaters training. Figure skating has always been popular in Russia. Unfortunately, this sport is seeing a decline, which may be the result of generation change. We’ll see. We have created very good conditions for figure skaters. Overall, here in Novogorsk, athletes can train in 32 sports, including both summer and winter sports.

I visited this place six or seven years ago, and I should say that the progress is evident. I’ve toured several construction sites for new facilities and several facilities that are being renovated. They make a good impression, like the facilities I saw here before. If we continue to develop sports infrastructure not only in Moscow but also in other regions, we’ll make it easier for athletes to train and win gold, silver and bronze medals.

Let’s look at the situation in other regions. I suggest we start with the Tula Region. Mr Dudka [Governor of the Tula Region], please.

Vyacheslav Dudka: Mr Putin, ladies and gentlemen,

The Tula Region is continuing to improve its sporting infrastructure as it implements the development strategy for fitness and sport in Russia to 2020. The regional administration is closely monitoring the construction of major sporting venues. The Volna (Wave) fitness centre in Yefremov opened in 2009. The Ice Palace sports centre in Novomoskovsk and sports centres in the villages of Tovarkovsky, Bogoroditsk District, and Epifan, Kimovsky District, and a gymnastics facility in Tula will all open this year. We will also finish upgrading a cycle track in Tula and the Sputnik health and fitness centre in Donskoi this year.

An artificial turf football pitch will be built in Novomoskovsk as part of the 2008-2015 programme to develop football in Russia and the federal targeted programme for the development of fitness and sport 2006-2015. We are resuming playground construction under the Gazprom to Children programme.

The region has drawn up and is implementing its long-term targeted programme for the development of fitness and sport over the period 2009-2011 as part of the development strategy for fitness and sport in Russia to 2020. It has in excess of 125 million roubles in funding.

All 27 municipalities and urban districts in the Tula Region have drawn up and approved plans to promote fitness and sport taking due account of the development strategy for fitness and sport in Russia to 2020.

The regional administration is also working with the Oka federal training centre to promote fitness and sport. We are now at the Oka Ice Palace, where the Paralympic sledge hockey team is training. The centre is fully prepared to accommodate limited-abilities athletes who will use it to train in 20 sports including sitting volleyball, wheelchair basketball, rugby, dancing and handball, torball, table tennis, fencing, judo, sledge hockey, synchronised and conventional swimming, and track and field. Its entire infrastructure has been built with the needs of disabled athletes in mind. The centre is equipped with special lifts and other equipment the athletes need.

Construction work has not yet been completed. Regional law exempts the Oka centre from 5 million roubles in taxes this year, which will allow the road network and other infrastructure to be upgraded, to make the centre more efficient.

All these measures will also serve to attract the broader population of the region to playing sports on a regular basis, and will help us attain the goals set in the strategy by 2020. That was all I wanted to say.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much. I would like to draw everyone’s attention to something Mr Dudka just mentioned, that Paralympic athletes are training at the Oka centre. I would like to draw everyone’s attention to the fact that this is the first sports centre in Russia equipped to train Paralympic athletes, including in events that no Russian Paralympian has ever competed in before. For example, it was only relatively recently that Russia had no Paralympic sledge hockey team, while now we can see it training literally just over there, behind the Governor and his colleagues. I hope the team will do well at the Sochi Olympics in 2014. Thank you very much.

Now, Novosibirsk Region Governor Vasily Yurchenko, please go ahead.

Vasily Yurchenko: Mr Putin, ladies and gentlemen, here we are at an all-purpose gym built under a joint project between the United Russia party and the Ministry of Sport and Tourism.

It opened on December 24 last year, and children’s and young people’s sport schools are already up and running here. The gym will be able to accommodate 800 students in total. It is located in the Sovietsky District of Novosibirsk, on the left bank of the river Ob. Only recently there were no decent sporting venues in the area, and residents lacked the opportunity to do sport, exercise and get healthier.  

This gym is part of our work to implement the development strategy for fitness and sport. It is the second facility on that site – a covered ice-rink has already been built. There are 570 children training there now, and adults resident in the district use the facility in the evenings, until eleven or even midnight. We have opened 13 facilities in the region under this programme since 2006, both in Novosibirsk and the countryside. Mr Putin, we will open an indoor football pitch this year – the region’s first. It will be not only an important venue but also a beautiful building and a fine example of engineering.

We have allocated 2 billion roubles from the regional budget and received 1.1 billion from the federal budget towards the construction of sports facilities. This programme helps us boost the material and technical basis for sport in our region. We are investing in 70 different sports. We have our share of famous athletes, too: suffice it to name wrestler Alexander Karelin, three times Olympic champion, or fencer Stanislav Pozdnyakov, four times Olympic champion. Gymnast Yevgeny Podgorny, also an Olympic champion, is taking part in today’s videoconference.

We certainly do have problems with venues. The region has 60% of the norm for flatwork, 30% for gyms and mere 7% for pools. In the second half of last year, we adopted a long-term targeted programme for 2011-2015 to promote sport across the Novosibirsk Region. It allocates 6.7 billion roubles towards building new venues and upgrade outdated ones.

There are eight rural district centres which have no sports facilities at all other than school gyms. This is one major problem we face today but our long-term targeted programme will resolve it.

In November, Vitaly Mutko and I discussed an issue that is crucial for Russia’s third largest city with 1.640 million residents. I’m referring to the lack of a good modern multifunctional hall for team sports. We have seven teams in Russian men’s volleyball and men’s and women’s basketball premier leagues but we are unable to host international or national tournaments. I would like to ask Mr Putin to support Mr Mutko’s and my initiative to build such a sports facility. This facility will benefit the entire Siberia, not just Novosibirsk residents. All in all, the long-term targeted programme that we have approved entails increasing the share of population engaged in sports from 17% to 40% in the coming five years and building new sports facilities. If the current trends persevere I am convinced we will achieve these goals. My report is over.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you. Your project’s main sponsor is sitting on my left – Alexei Kudrin. We will work on this issue. Mr Kudrin?

Alexei Kudrin: As you say, Mr Putin.

Vladimir Putin: He’s an experienced official. Mr Yurchenko, can you tell me how many residents of the Novosibirsk Region engage in sports on a regular basis?

Vasily Yurchenko: About 17% of our residents – adults and children – do sports on a regular basis.

Vladimir Putin: I am pleased you are familiar with the statistics. Honestly speaking, I didn’t expect you to know these figures. I don’t think all our regional heads know them. But the figure is pretty low, isn’t it?

Vasily Yurchenko: Yes, it is.

Vladimir Putin: Russia’s average is much higher. The country’s average is still too low but the level in the Novosibirsk Region is even lower. Mr Mutko, I would like to point out that these are the real figures and they are to be taken into account when working with the regions. I also request regional heads to bear it in mind. This is one of the most important criteria of a region’s social development. Thank you, thank you very much. Mr Sukhikh, the Perm Territory, please go ahead.

Valery Sukhikh (Head of the Perm Territory government): Good evening, Mr Putin. The temperature here is 20 degrees below zero. We are outdoors – at a federal winter sports centre in the town of Tchaikovsky. The first stage of construction has now been completed, and a ski and biathlon facility has opened for use. The plan is to complete the second phase of construction in 2012, which is to include five ski jump facilities and a hotel.

It is good to note that the federal winter sports centre is being built on the Tchaikovsky State Physical Fitness Institute site. We believe their involvement in this will enable the athletes to train to very high standards.

I would like to draw your attention to the fact that this centre was designed to accommodate training. We think, if we are to make the most efficient use of the facilities, it should be upgraded so it can host international championships as well. This will require some alterations to the design specification, estimated costs and to the current construction plan itself.

Other major sporting projects in the Perm Territory are the planned Orlyonok centre with two ice rinks and a tobogganing and bobsleigh course in Chusovoi. Russia's Ministry of Sports, Tourism and Youth Policy will be involved in both these projects.

I believe this new infrastructure will help train athletes more effectively, not only those from the Perm Territory, but also from elsewhere in Russia, and to host international sporting event at a very high, professional, level.

That concludes my report.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you. How is this work progressing? Have you been monitoring construction work on the ski jump hill?

Valery Sukhikh: Yes. The first stage has been completed. The ski and biathlon facility here behind me is hosting a competition as we speak. The jump hills will be finished in the fourth quarter of 2011, and we expect the entire venue to be ready for use in the first quarter of 2012.

Vladimir Putin: So work on the project is going to schedule?

Valery Sukhikh: Yes it is. I examined each of the facilities myself today. The progress of the construction work and the project itself made a very good impression on me, and the landscape looks good, too.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you. Keep monitoring this project. It is the ministry's responsibility of course, but I would like you to keep abreast of it too and keep me informed about what is happening on it as well.

I want to emphasise to everyone here that no ski jump facilities have been built here for I don't know how long, 20 years maybe. The last one was built in the Soviet Union some time in the late 1970s. That's it, not a single modern ski-jump facility with a chair lift has been built since then, and as Mr Mutko said, all national championships are staged on one hill. We will now have four ski-jump centres – in the Perm Territory, Nizhny Tagil, Sochi and Nizhny Novgorod. I hope these projects will all be completed on time. I appreciate the contributions made by our colleagues in the regions. Please, go ahead Mr Mutko.

Vitaly Mutko: Thank you, Mr Putin. First of all, I would like to thank you for visiting the national teams’ training centre in Novogorsk. This is the third centre you have visited. I would like to thank you for paying such close attention to professional sports. We have visited the South Sport base, Lake Krugloye and Novogorsk today.

In your introductory remarks, you mentioned the strategy for promoting physical fitness and sports. I would like to note in brief that, while implementing this strategy on a par with the regions, we can say today that 2010 was, on the whole, a positive year for sports expansion. Together with our regional colleagues, we have managed to provide 77 Russian regions with their own physical fitness and sports expansion programmes. As you may remember, only 35 regions were covered by such programmes two years ago. In effect, we can say that all parameters for the implementation of this strategy are now changing. As far as 2010 statistics are concerned, an additional three million people regularly engaged in physical fitness and sports activities, which in total makes up about 20% of the country’s population. I would also like to note that the number of sports competitions continues to grow. Between a million and 1.5 million people are currently involved in such projects as the Russian Ski Track and the National Cross-Country Race.

Naturally, this shift was brought about by serious efforts to improve the material base. In 2006-2010, we built 699 sports facilities with federal involvement under the federal targeted programme. This largely enabled us to increase their capacity to almost seven million persons who can simultaneously train at stadiums.

If we add construction of sports facilities funded by Russian regions, municipal entities and major corporations, including the Gazprom to Children programme, then we can say that we have built approximately 4,000 sports facilities in the past few years. The sector has about 250,000 operational sports facilities.

The sector’s staff continues to grow. About 310,000 specialists now work in physical fitness and sports. We have launched a programme to modernise physical  education at schools. Mr Putin, mandatory third weekly physical education lessons have been introduced at all schools after that meeting chaired by you. I think the new education standard will be modernised throughout 2011. We have also launched this serious effort per instructions on the modernisation of physical education at Russian colleges and universities. The law on education introduces the sports club concept. We are working to establish 13 sports leagues. The winter and summer student games have now been reinstated. We have started awarding Master of Sports titles to student championship winners. This work is also beginning to expand. We will support student sports clubs by financing them, as well as everything linked with the work of our Burevestnik sports society.

The share of children engaged in sports has reached 35%. We have managed to halt the reduction in the number of sports schools for children and teenagers. We can say for the first time that the number of such sports schools has increased by about 3% throughout 2010. We have started opening new children’s schools. Municipal entities and regional governments promptly assumed responsibility for such work after trade unions and other societies stopped this trend. Consequently, I would like to note that the strategy’s parameters are being closely monitored. We are doing this work together with the regions. I would also like to note that we have now introduced all these parameters and criteria for assessing the efficiency of the Russian regions per your instruction. Consequently, when you ask a governor, anyone of them will name such parameters today. This implies the number of persons involved and per-capita physical fitness and sports allocations, the number of young people at sports schools for children and teenagers, as well as the number of national team members.

Mr Putin, I would like to say a few words about the fact that the 2010 period was an extremely serious test for us, the entire sector and the Ministry of Sport, Tourism and Youth Policy. As you know, the results scored at the Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver were the worst for the past few years. The results were deplorable and the situation was assessed as critical. First of all, I would like to note that, when you had summoned us for a meeting on March 5, 2010, we were present in our current line-up plus many other sports federation presidents also attended the meeting. After hearing us out, you supported our proposed measures regarding the strategy’s implementation and the elimination of problems linked with the promotion of sports in Russia.

I would like to brief you on our achievements and certain initiatives for which we would like to gain your support.

I would like to report that the Ministry of Sport, Tourism and Youth Policy has charted a number of ambitious projects together with sports federations and the Olympic Committee. We can say today that the initial results of their implementation highlight the efficiency of various measures being adopted. One of the reasons for the poor performance at the Olympic Games is the system for managing professional sports and the entire national sports management system. As you may remember, we told you after the Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver that the responsibility had been spread thin between the federations, the Olympic Committee and the state. We were able to achieve significant changes in 2010, and the state’s role in sports management has greatly increased. We signed an agreement on demarcating various prerogatives with our sports federation colleagues. This year, we have signed an agreement with the Olympic Committee, the Paralympics Committee, the Committee of Olympic Sports for the Deaf and with all sports federations. Second, the State Duma will soon examine amendments to the law On Physical Fitness and Sports and will pass them into law.

In 2010, we were able to considerably improve our cooperation with top officials at regional executive bodies of state power. We have recently signed 25 agreements between the governors and our ministry.We will complete this work in 2011. We stipulate clear cooperation criteria for every level. The sports management system is sufficiently well-established, and everyone is responsible for his own sector. I can say that training of national teams is now the main responsibility of the national team centre.  The federal targeted programme has been amended accordingly. We have informed you at Lake Krugloye that in 2009, 27 out of 52 Olympic sports categories had their own federal centres and training camps. The only thing still missing is training camps in medium-altitude mountains. Consequently, Russian athletes mostly have to train abroad. The presidents of winter sports federations are also present here. We have drafted the relevant programme with every federation. I would like to report that we hope to finish preparing federal winter sports centres by 2012, and all summer sports will have their own federal centres by 2014. I would like to thank you for supporting and transferring the Kislovodsk base, located in medium-altitude mountains, to the Ministry of Sport, Tourism and Youth Policy. We will do everything so that in the next two years …

Vladimir Putin: You should thank the Ministry of Defence.

Vitaly Mutko: But the Ministry of Defence would not have budged an inch without your directive. We have managed to accomplish this, and we have now come up with a project. At least all categories of athletes will be able to train in medium-altitude mountains.

Vladimir Putin: Nonetheless, you have agreed with the Ministry of Defence that military athletes will also be able to take part and use such facilities.

Vitaly Mutko: Of course, they will also have the opportunity. We now maintain close contacts with the Ministry of Defence on all other issues. I would also like to note that two more sections have been added to the federal targeted programme. This concerns the provision of equipment to 14 colleges and universities. The sector has five research institutes. Our colleagues are familiar with the level of technical equipment at those institutes. We have just shown Tchaikovsky to you. This is the main university training winter sports athletes. It didn’t use to have anything. Next year we will build a ski hill for biathlon, ski jumping, Nordic combined, freestyle skiing and snowboarding. It will be a large centre. The country's 14 sports universities will train specialists; training centres and sports science support groups will also contribute. Under the federal programme, about 2 billion roubles will be spent each year to modernise higher education.

A winter sports centre is being built in Toksovo, and the Lesgaft University (the Lesgaft Saint Petersburg National State University of Physical Education, Sports and Health) will have a 1.5km-long ski tunnel for freestyle skiing and snowboarding. Each university will have new sports facilities.

Next, science support groups for each sport will have wider participation. Previously such groups only accompanied national teams during training camps. Now they will take part in forming national teams, they will monitor training sessions and render all round support to them. Naturally, we will do everything possible (to ensure the effective work of the science teams). There are many issues involved here, and now for the first time we have invested 509 million roubles in this work, twice as much as usual. And I am confident that this project will be fruitful.

Medical and biomedical support. You have already mentioned this. We have drafted a separate programme with FMBA of Russia (the Federal Medical-Biological Agency); Mr Uiba (the head of Russia's FMBA) is present here. This is a very complicated issue. Let's be direct about it: we haven't had sports medicine programmes in recent years. We have worked hard together to quickly train the first 100 physicians and massage therapists, and we have adjusted their salaries. We are now streamlining this work: assigning special centres and organising proper medical support for the country's national teams. However, we have just started out on this path (I believe my colleagues will comment on this point) as this is a very involved issue. I think serious work lies ahead.

Anti-doping measures. As you remember, our Russian teams had a very poor image before the Olympics in Vancouver. We were said to have failed to meet the requirements set by WADA (the World Anti-Doping Agency). I would like to report that at the last meeting of WADA's Foundation Board in Canada, Mr Fahey (president of WADA) publicly announced that Russia has met the requirements set by the UNESCO Convention (the International Convention against Doping in Sport) and that Russia took requisite measures in this direction: amended the laws, modernised its anti-doping organisation, RUSADA, and opened the borders. Now we permit our drug tests to be taken abroad, and any athlete can be tested. We have done a lot in this area. We educated our athletes on the subject and, most importantly, we changed the public attitude towards doping.

I am confident that it is possible to win without using performance-enhancing drugs. The main thing is to train properly. A lot has been done and a lot is still to be done in this area. As you see, we haven't had such serious problems in the last two years after the Vancouver Olympics.

Logistic support of the country's national teams – we have considerably improved this component. We remember your instruction to use more domestically produced goods. We are working on weapons, lubricants and logistic support along with our colleagues from the Ministry of Industry and Trade. I am hopeful that we will report back to you on the results by the end of the year.

Material support for athletes. As you remember, one of the main problems was that only about 1,000 athletes out of the 3,000 athletes working in the national teams' centre had stable salaries. A Russian athlete working in the national teams' centre had an average monthly salary of 12,000 to 20,000 roubles. We said that athletes earn a lot, but this was not exactly so. This mostly referred to football, hockey and some other competitive sports. So, I would like to report to you that your instruction has been fulfilled. Additional money has been allocated from the federal budget to modernise the salary system. I can tell you, Mr Putin, that the average salary for an athlete will be around 80,000 roubles. The minimum salary will be 35,000 roubles – for athletes starting their careers in the national team – and the maximum salary 120,000 roubles. We will apply the factor of 25. Athletes will have a high salary if they are Honoured Masters of Sports and if they are as talented as the young people you saw today. They will, of course, prepare for the Sochi Olympics with quite a different salary.

All this helped us to create 5,000 salary rates. And the whole national team (two rosters) will have stable salaries in the national teams' centre.

As for your instruction on medical insurance. We remember the problems our athlete Irina Skvortsova encountered. We have resolved this issue. The insurance coverage for athletes travelling abroad will now be 300,000 euros. The insurance company has been chosen, and each athlete has an insurance policy. We resolved this problem as well.

We also decided to provide support to retired athletes. The president's life-long allowance for prize winners, talented athletes, retired athletes and Olympic champions was raised to 32,000 roubles from 15,000 roubles, thus improving morale in sports.

Vladimir Putin: There's nothing in there about coaches?

Vitaly Mutko: This also applies to coaches, Mr Putin. This applies to all the institutions of the national team. This means the coach and it’s about 13 occupations that are part of the national team. The first wages of the entire staff of the teams will be paid already soon, at the end of this month. We signed a contract with Sberbank – these will be the civilised payments to the athletes' accounts. So, of course, this work will be done.

I would also like to say that when we received questions at Lake Krugloye on the efficient use of funds based on the results of the Audit Chamber’s inspection, of course, there were many comments, and very objective ones related to the funding sports. I would also like to report that such decisions have been made and you talked a bit about this today, that for the first time, the field of physical fitness and sports is specified in a separate section of the federal budget – the 11th section. Moreover, we have five subsections. Physical fitness and sports, mass sports and elite sports subsections. I can tell you that now, every citizen of the country, everyone can calmly look at what we spend on elite sports, how much on mass sports, how much on applied research and other issues in the field of physical fitness and sports.

These are, in general, considerable resources that are directed at the development of physical fitness and sports. In general, the sector's aggregate budget along with other ministries will be 52.5 billion roubles for physical fitness and sports. This increase is quite substantial, because we have never allocated so much – up to 40%.

I would also note that 12.5 billion roubles will be allocated for the implementation of the federal targeted programme for 2011. This, too, is about 1.6 billion roubles more than in 2010. And, of course, considering the funding and considering the opinion of the Audit Chamber, this year we have put more trust in our federations, our colleagues from these federations are present here. We're transferring 722 million roubles in the form of subsidies to the majority of sports federations, which gives us the opportunity to make them major partners of the state and hold them, not only morally, but legally and financial accountable. I would also like to take this opportunity to note that when I reported to you during a meeting with the women's team Alexei Kudrin supported us there – he is becoming the patron of women's hockey in the country – and for the first time in history, 60 million roubles were allocated to subsidise the country's six women's teams.

Vladimir Putin: Do they know about this?

Vitaly Mutko: They know about it. Vladislav Tretyak is present here, and he will be there to monitor this work. I think this will promote competition in women's hockey and, of course, the formation of the country's national team. If this proves to be useful experience, I think we can apply it to the others.

In summary, I would like to say that 2010 has turned out, despite the initial setbacks, positive on the whole. And I would like to note, Mr Putin, that if we take stock of the situation with summer sports, you know what we have planned for London 2012, and out of 37 sports, there are 28 world championships held in summer sports. I would like to note that our athletes won 53 medals including 18 gold, 17 silver and 18 bronze medals. We took second place in the unofficial team standings.

Of course, we must bear in mind that there were no world championships in such sports as swimming and track and field, but in Europe, our athletes in summer sports are still on top. They won 127 medals – 57 gold, 40 silver and 30 bronze. Therefore, based on the overall performance of our athletes in 2009-2010 in summer Olympic sports, it is safe to conclude that we are still one of the leaders of these sports and leaders in world sports.

I think that 2011 will also be very important for the Olympic trials. Three federations have now been already selected, and we have a full set for shooting sports and a number of other sports, but next year will be very important for the Olympic trials and licensing. Therefore, we hope that this work will allow us to make significant progress.

In reviewing the results of 2010, implementing the strategy, I would also like, Mr Putin, to ask for support in dealing with three or four issues that we need to resolve.

First, this is a particular problem, and we have consulted you on it already: the limited import of uncertified dietary supplements and medicines. We, despite your directives, have not been able to resolve this problem with the Health Ministry. I am, of course, referring to controlled import. Nobody will travel here for licenses for our athletes. Mr Putin, we would again like to ask you today to issue instructions, so that we can promptly resolve these issues.

The second issue is the special customs procedure for moving sporting goods and equipment – we're not able to bring in or bring out anything. Here, all our colleagues know that we have our bobsledders training in Sigulda, but we cannot transport bobsleighs from Russia, because we have to pay and we must go throught other formalities. If the world championships in  cycling were held here, foreign competitors could not bring their bikes here. The army has a special procedure. I would like to ask you to issue formal instructions for this because we need to resolve this problem.

The next issue is upkeep. We are located at a base, and of course we already reported about the maintenance of these bases, the federal centres have a kind of special economic regime. Today we have five of them so far. I think somewhere around nine bases from the midlands would be sufficient. Of course, we will need to think about their special status, because already today a man-day is about 4,500 roubles. We are burdened with taxes on the land, property, and the local authorities do not always support us in this regard.

The next issue is the budget and its drastic reduction. Despite the fact that we have a separate line in the budget, it is now evident. So, Mr Putin, I want to ask you, and I have reported to you on this several times – we have 52.5 billion roubles for physical fitness and sports in 2011, 34.4 billion in 2012 and 31.3 billion in 2013. Of course, this is shortfalling money of the World Student Games in Kazan. But our demand for sports is sufficiently large in terms of both its material base and the competition calendar. In some sports, we can hold up to  only two competitions for each sport and we can afford to hold them just because the general spending is around five billion. We, of course, need to significantly increase it. And, of course, we would like to draw your attention to this.

And finally – it is with your support that we have resolved all the sports funding issues, meaning financing and tenders related to equipment, medical and biomedical support. The problem of funding for the competitions remains. We are forced to hold a tender to find who can generally provide funding for sporting events.

I would also like to ask you to support us – maybe we can establish a special procedure, that is funding by special order and the national teams centre could finance fees, competitions, tournaments and championships. In general, these are our four requests.

And once again, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your full support for sports. All of our colleagues here – presidents of winter sports federations and many new people among them – have enthusiastically joined us in this work. I want to again assure you that all of us here – our colleagues and partners – are determined to have Russia regain its lost ground and its prestige in winter sports as well. Thank you very much.

Vladimir Putin: Let's not say that these have really been totally lost. We have had our setbacks, but I don’t doubt that we will overcome them.

Regarding the problems that you have now identified – the simplified procedure of bringing in and out sports equipment and inventory – we need to think about that. Oddly enough, these things happen. I heard the same thing from specialists in an entirely different industry –musical instruments. They have the same problem.   These problems hold people back. There should, of course, be a procedure for this. We will be sure to issue the appropriate instructions to our agencies, ministries and the Customs Committee – we'll see what we can do. The same applies to the bringing in of dietary supplements and pharmaceuticals. Let's see, let us together devise the instructions today, and then separately, I'll issue them to all the agencies concerned. The same goes for funding.

Regarding certain amounts being reduced, it's probably natural. If we finish the construction of a huge number of sites associated with training for the Olympic Games and the World Student Games, there will no longer be a demand for such sites. Although – we have already talked about this, and I mentioned it in my opening remarks – if we say that we need to ensure that 70 % – we should strive towards this – of our citizens are engaged in sports, of course, we need to step up construction in the regions. And if we say that this must be done in collaboration with the regions, then – and our colleagues in the regions hear us, and there are some governors here – we need to develop appropriate procedures in our joint work. In general, they are already there, but you can even make such a special programme in regional development. It exists, but you can improve and expand it. But this would be a separate issue. Let's not associate it with either the Olympics or the World Student Games in Kazan.

It's the same thing with culture. We have finished constructing large theatres. Of course, we want to preserve all of this, and it can be done, I guess. But we must nevertheless look closely at the programmes, the development programmes themselves.

Let's continue, shall we?