6 september 2011

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin meets with St Petersburg Governor Georgy Poltavchenko

The prime minister said that in recent years much has been done to develop St Petersburg’s economy and to fortify the city’s position in Russia and in the world, while acknowledging that there are still many problems for the governor and his colleagues to solve.

Transcript of the beginning of the meeting:

Vladimir Putin: Mr Poltavchenko, first of all let me congratulate you on the election – the Legislative Assembly has voted to appoint you governor. I will not speak on the significance of St Petersburg for Russia, as it is clear: it is the country’s second largest city, with an important, diversified and advanced economy.

In recent years, past leaders have done much to develop the city’s economy and fortify its position in Russia and in the world. But there are still many problems which you and your colleagues will have to solve. You have been governor for just a few days, but you know the city quite well as you have been working here for several years. What are your first impressions after taking office?

Georgy Poltavchenko: Mr Putin, first of all I would like to thank you for your confidence and support as party leader when you nominated me. I hope to justify your confidence.

I used to visit the city only to see my family, my mother, and I barely noticed anything except the façades of the buildings. Naturally, the façades are excellent but much has been done in the nearly 11 years since. I believe that it is necessary to keep up with the pace that has been typical for the city’s development, largely thanks to your decisions in past years. I think there is every reason for this. The budget has been quite balanced, and we are working on it now. There are some questions, though. We might have to create a deficit, but this is a deliberate measure, as we should move forward instead of stopping at what has been accomplished. Obviously, additional funding is necessary.

We hope to receive support from the federal government. Although yesterday you said that there would be no extra funding, I hope that the government’s support and, what’s most important, a prudent loan that will not make us dependent on loans might help us develop. The most important thing is that the budget has secure funds for meeting all commitments and resolving all social issues that you have raised. In particular, the issue of increasing the salaries of teachers and medical workers already has been settled. The issues of providing housing to people entitled to benefits, particularly WWII veterans, are being discussed. Although the city fulfilled all its commitments last year, a greater number of veterans, including those from other regions and countries, came to St Petersburg and they would like to get housing there. But this is a much more complicated problem. Certainly, we will fulfil all our obligations but there is still much to be done.

As for the city economy, we have been preparing for the winter. On Sunday, I had a meeting with Dmitry Kozak and discovered a number of problems which were discussed in detail. We agreed that we would thoroughly inspect the efficiency of municipal services, first and foremost in the utilities sector, in order to identify existing problems and take timely decisions to resolve them. On the whole, we are prepared for the winter.

Vladimir Putin: Excellent. Please, do not forget that Leningrad, St Petersburg is also Russia’s cultural capital, although we have no capital except Moscow. But we can rightly call it that given how much St Petersburg has that the Russian people take pride in. All of these merit the special attention of both the Russian Federation and the local authorities. Please, do not forget about this either.

Georgy Poltavchenko: By all means, Mr Putin, because this is my hometown, as well as yours. And preserving its beauty and historical value is my duty as the city’s governor and as a citizen of our country.

Vladimir Putin: The city is home to many theatres and musical groups that are respected and appreciated throughout the country – let’s not forget this and support the people who maintain the high level of Russian culture here, in St Petersburg.

Georgy Poltavchenko:  We will definitely do this.