Prime Minister Vladimir Putin meets with Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov in Vladivostok
Transcript of the beginning of the meeting:
Vladimir Putin: Mr Ivanov, you are responsible for the development of the South Kurils. So what is happening there now? Are there any results to report? What are your immediate plans there? What priorities do you see? What do you think it is advisable to focus on?
Sergei Ivanov: Mr Putin, as you know I have been managing this federal targeted programme since 2006. It runs until 2014, and its aim is to develop social, transport and other infrastructure in the area, which, frankly, were virtually nonexistent there. After a trip I made to the islands last May, accompanied by the ministers of economic development, natural resources, transport, and regional development, as well as Sakhalin Governor Alexander Khoroshavin, we all agreed that we must accelerate this programme.
You have recently signed a government resolution allocating 1.2 billion roubles for the programme in addition to the previously approved financing. What will this money be spent on primarily? I believe that the key problem in the South Kurils is the accessibility of transport, and I expect this problem to be resolved soon.
Vladimir Putin: You mean the inaccessibility of transport.
Sergei Ivanov: That was the problem in the past. Now the problem is accessibility. We are building two airports there, one in Kunashir, which is now, after capital repairs, ready to receive modern long- and short-haul airliners, and the other in Iturup. I previously reported to you that we are building a totally new airport, with a 2,400 metre runway to receive passenger short- and medium-haul airliners as well as Emergency Ministry’s Il-76 transport jets – just in case. This is an earthquake prone area. The airport will help us promptly respond to emergencies. God forbid, but there are often quakes and there have been some major earthquakes there lately.
This year, 500 million out of the 1.2 billion roubles I mentioned will be invested in the Iturup airport, which is the main transport project. Another 500 million will go to the construction of quay walls and a port terminal for passengers arriving to the island by boat, so that they can land comfortably and conveniently. Until recently, passengers had to disembark in the harbour, which is not safe and simply outdated. The remaining funds will be spent on fuel efficiency and energy supply programmes for Kunashir and Iturup, the largest populated islands, and Shikotan, which is a smaller island and does not need an airport, but we will build a helipad there.
Other plans include building social facilities such as kindergartens and schools. For the first time ever, the islands will have paved roads – asphalt roads. We have included financing of this programme in the three-year budget for 2012-2014, and we are not cutting our spending on roads. The Economic Development Ministry has recognised that the money is being spent effectively and as intended, and we are even ahead of schedule.
The second point I would like to make is this. Just like any other federal targeted programme, this programme involves co-financing. The Sakhalin Region has contributed 25% of the financing, which added up to 1 billion roubles this year. Governor Alexander Khoroshavin tightly controls this policy. It is one of his concerns and priorities to allocate funds for this programme.
Vladimir Putin: Tightly in what way? Do you mean “well?”
Sergei Ivanov: Right.
Vladimir Putin: How much is this? How much have they contributed?
Sergei Ivanov: From 2007 to 2014, the Sakhalin Region plans to contribute 2-3 billion roubles of the programme’s total financing of 14 billion roubles.
Vladimir Putin: We are completing the 2012 budgeting now, and the three year budget, so please make sure that it’s all there, that nothing disappears as far as the Far East is concerned and…
Sergei Ivanov: Particularly the Kurils.
Vladimir Putin: Yes, the issue you are responsible for – the South Kurils in particular. I know you also focus on cultural aspects, nature conservation, and environmental issues, including the Far Eastern leopard. How are the big cats faring?
Sergei Ivanov: Yes, Mr Putin, as you may remember – in fact you must remember this – I told you at the latest Russian Geographical Society meeting that I was ready to take charge of this important project to preserve the Far Eastern leopard. Unfortunately, scientists estimate that no more than 40-50 Far Eastern leopards remain in the wild. I would like to report on our progress now. First, we have expanded the boundaries of the new national park. We have agreed that with the Primorye Territory government and all government agencies concerned. Minister of Natural Resources Yury Trutnev has recently reported to you on the local protected areas and the two national parks.
Vladimir Putin: We wanted to expand the boundaries slightly.
Sergei Ivanov: Yes, this national park I am talking about is one of those two. We have expanded its area to include all the land adjacent to the Chinese border, as well as a number of game reserves and, as you can see here (showing notes), the green dots indicate tracks of the leopards, as well as of the familiar Siberian tiger.
Vladimir Putin: Familiar, indeed.
Sergei Ivanov: We have reached all the necessary agreements, and a government resolution will be issued very soon defining the national park boundaries and, naturally, the rules for human activity there. This is a protected area, a wildlife preserve. I would like to show you a few images. These are unique, beautiful, graceful but cunning…
Vladimir Putin: How cute!
Sergei Ivanov: Beautiful cats. Why unique? Because this is the only leopard that has adapted to living in the snow in winter. No other leopard in the world can live in the snow.
Vladimir Putin: But there is the irbis.
Sergei Ivanov: That’s the irbis, not a leopard. Scientists say they are different. The irbis lives in the mountains, sometimes even in permanent snow, but of all the different leopards – which are found in Africa or India – only the Far Eastern snow leopard, which essentially lives on a plain, is adapted to living in the snow.
Vladimir Putin: That’s a whole pride here, right? Four species.
Sergei Ivanov: Yes, there are four of them – a pride. A mother with kittens having lunch, so to speak. Or dinner. Now, about federal policies. We have agreed with the Natural Resources Ministry – I think Mr Trutnev has told you about the plan to raise the salaries of forest inspectors and game wardens at such unique national parks. Their salaries have been tripled, and I met with inspectors today. They are certainly grateful for this decision and agree with your statement that their occupation is rather dangerous: they sometimes run across poachers, or wild animals such as tigers and leopard. Their job is very special, and their previous wages were certainly inadequate.
Vladimir Putin: Inadequate considering the effort they make.
Sergei Ivanov: The effort and the danger they are exposed to.
Vladimir Putin: When will the draft resolution be ready?
Sergei Ivanov: Before the end of the year. You mean about this national park?
Vladimir Putin: Yes.
Sergei Ivanov: Before the end of this year. We have agreed on the boundaries and that is already in effect. We did it all rapidly. The budget financing for the park’s upkeep has been tripled. We have also established a charity fund for this park – an autonomous non-profit organisation. I head the council of trustees, and we have now accumulated about 50 million roubles on our account. Many individuals from various organisations, including large corporations like Gazprom and TNK-BP, and major banks, including Alfa Bank and Gazprombank, as well as smaller companies, such as Atomredmetzoloto, who have already contributed to the account. The council of trustees has decided to focus on fire prevention. We have already purchased crawler vehicles, have bought two very good four-wheel-drive vehicles which will ply the taiga and its hills, and we will continue to buy them in the future. Actually, we have already started laying out the national park which will be open to visitors, provided that they behave responsibly, so they can admire the scenery and see this beautiful animal, if they are lucky. Really, nature there is simply beautiful; over a hundred animals native to Russia live there, and there is plenty to see.
And, finally, I would like to say that I’m willing to supervise this project under the auspices of the Russian Geographical Society in the future. I am familiar with these cats, and they are very beautiful.
Vladimir Putin: What do you think will we be able to restore the population, as experts say?
Sergei Ivanov: Yes, we will, because we are confident at every level. When I first came here and looked around several years ago, the infrastructure was just rundown. Mr Putin, the farm centre was built in 1932 and it was, in fact, a ramshackle wooden house. We are currently building special wooden houses along the perimeter where inspectors can spend the night, to wash up and relax ... The latest data obtained by tripwire cameras and video cameras shows an increase in the leopard population which was not registered before. We have registered eight leopard cubs in the past 12 months. Moreover, I believe that I’m very lucky today. A young female was sedated, in a humane manner, on the nature trail, and I personally strapped a GLONASS collar on her. First of all, we designed these collars. You probably know a man named Vyacheslav Vladimirovich who is in charge of the tiger population. We used to strap GPS collars on the tigers, but now we use GLONASS collars. We named this young two-year-old female Slavyanka after the town of Slavyanka nearby in the Primorye Territory and because this is a traditional Russian name. We hope that she will become a mother. The device now shows that she has recovered completely and is roaming the reserve.
Vladimir Putin: There was no such name before, but it will now be used. Thank you.
Sergei Ivanov: By the way, Mr Rozhnov, a scientist, says these GLONASS collars can now be used on other animals, including bears and tigers.
Vladimir Putin: And we have already started using them.
Thank you, Mr Ivanov. I hope your supervision and this programme will yield some positive results. Increasing the population and preserving this species, so that people would be able to admire them in the future, would be the main result.