18 august 2008

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin chaired a Cabinet meeting

Vladimir Putin

Meeting of the Government Presidium on August 18, 2008

"We have to complete the formation of competitive integrated structures in key branches of industry."

Transcript of the beginning of the meeting:

Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon,

It's well known that as a result of the criminal campaign of the Georgian Government against South Ossetia a large number of people have been hurt. A real humanitarian disaster has been launched. It is our duty is to help these people.

Today we are going to start rescue operations to eliminate the consequences of the humanitarian disaster, which caused over 30,000 people, including 6,000 children, to leave home; the people were deprived of their housing and property. Many of them lost their families and friends.

We have recently allocated additional 500 million roubles to North Ossetia-Alania. Today we are going to decide whether we need to allocate another 540 million roubles from the Reserve Fund to render assistance to the injured and to compensate for lost property. These funds should be distributed among people, 50,000 roubles for each family to compensate for lost property.

We're also going to make a decision about the rehabilitation of children taken out of the area of the Georgian-Ossetian conflict. Unfortunately, many of them need not only rest, but also rehabilitation.

Let's talk about ways to organise all these plans.

I emphasise that we must not only assist in the reconstruction, but we must also lay the groundwork for stable social-economic development of this region.

We're also going to make a decision about allocating funds from the Reserve Fund to the Emergency Situations Ministry, the Russian Reserve, Ministry of Healthcare and Social Development to compensate for all these expenses. The total amount is 280 million roubles.

Now let's discuss our tasks. Mr Shoigu, how is your work going? How's your Ministry working?

Sergei Shoigu: Mr Putin, colleagues.

In accordance with the Cabinet's decision, a Federal Crisis Centre was set up in Moscow, a regional one in Vladikavkaz, and there is also an operational team working in Tskhinval.

We have organised the joint operation of the federal executive authorities, as well as cooperation with executive authorities of North and South Ossetia. 500 million roubles was allocated to provide the residents of South Ossetia with temporarily accommodation on the territory of the Republic; decisions have also been made on other social issues.

The Federal Migration Service has registered 37,232 people who have crossed the Russian border, of whom 26,442 people were evacuated, including 7,025 children.

For accommodation of refugees on the territory of the Southern Federal District 56 stationary posts were set up, which now hold 5,197 people, including 2,270 children. I should say that we have managed to move all the people out of tent camps. All of them were given permanent accommodation.

The delivery of humanitarian aid from the constituent entities of the Russian Federation, non-governmental organisations, and foreign countries and international organisations has been launched. To date 3,286 metric tons of goods were delivered to the scene of the conflict, of which 1,200 metric tons were directed to South Ossetia. Escort convoy to deliver humanitarian aid was set up to deliver daily 120 metric tons of food and 160-200 metric tons of construction materials for reconstruction.

We have organised medical assistance for the population. The Emergency Situations Ministry and Ministry of Health in two mobile medical units on the territory of South Ossetia have provided medical assistance to 460 injured; 75 surgeries were carried out starting from August 12. Medical aid was provided to 661 injured in the hospitals of North Ossetia-Alania. To date 457 injured, including 74 children, are at medical centres for inpatient treatment.

Psychologists from three agencies are working there - the Emergency Situations Ministry, the Ministry for Healthcare and Social Development, and the Interior Ministry. There is quite a large number of people in need. Psychological aid has been provided to 3,235 people, including 145 children, in the past two days. Three pharmacies in South Ossetia have been supplying medication to the population.

We have also organised a technical investigation of the facilities. Together with South Ossetia - it is there that the search and reconstruction work is being carried out - we have disposed of 417 dud munitions.

Food stations in Tskhinval have been set up to carry out first priority life-support tasks for injured people. They provide food for 1,500 people daily. The bakery has resumed its work: 7.5 metric tons of bread is enough at this stage.

Until housing is reconstructed, people have been given tents. We have restored the hotel to put up the people who are returning to the city. In the past 24 hours 1,335 people have come back. These figures make us happy, of course. The work of the 24hour emergency services and fire brigades has resumed.

Passenger transport between Vladikavkaz and Tskhinval has resumed, making five trips per day; it is of course accompanied by the traffic police.

The civil registry office, the technical inventory bureau and the archives resumed their operation. Television broadcasting on Channel One, Vesti, Vesti Plus, as well as radio broadcasting on 104.5 FM has been restored.

The telephone station servicing 7,000 telephone numbers has resumed its work, too. Reconstruction of a cable network and telephone installations in administrative and residential buildings has been organised. Restoration of schools and boarding schools is being carried out.

To date a federal group has been set up to aid the injured and carry out first priority life-support tasks in South Ossetia. The number of the injured reaches 2,208 people.

Constructors have started work in South Ossetia, too. Unfortunately, there are not many of them at the moment, but there are 450 people and 66 units of equipment from Spetsstroi; and also constructors from North Ossetia. They are working very effectively. I think that in the near future we are going to involve construction companies from the Southern Federal District with their equipment and technology for a speedy rescue operation of life and facilities, which should be carried out by the start of the cold season.

Our major task concerning the facilities necessary for life support is as follows: by the start of the cold season, we must set up a heating network to enable working conditions inside buildings regardless of the weather outside. In addition, by November we must prepare a reserve of construction materials and food. The avalanche period is from November till April. It's quite a long period when the Vladikavkaz - Tskhinval road through the Roki Pass is closed.

By August 19 we are planning to finish repair-and-reconstruction operations of the central water supply system. It's almost completely repaired, there is running water, but unfortunately its quality is below the sanitary standards. Additional water purification measures are being taken, so it can be delivered directly into houses.

By August 22, passenger transportation between towns and villages on the territory of South Ossetia is expected to be organised. Local people need it very much. By August 23 we are going to restore electricity at the main distributing substation in Tskhinval and at five high priority facilities round South Ossetia. By August 24, the theatre will reopen, and by August 29, 15 out of 47 high priority facilities in South Ossetia will resume work.

By September 1, we are planning to restore six out of the nine demolished schools, and provide them with the necessary furniture, books and other property.

Mr Putin, I have a request concerning speeding up the decision-making process regarding certain issues. Perhaps this has already been done, but I would like to ask about providing help with the formation of a new government in South Ossetia. It would be great if we offered all kinds of support - to the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Energy and many others.

Vladimir Putin: The President of Ossetia must form a government. And if he makes a request to provide specialists - it's not a problem.

Sergei Shoigu: That's exactly what I'm talking about. It is the President of the Republic who must form the government.

The next question: we need to increase the Reserve Fund this year for emergency rescue operations, because our current decision in fact has emptied the Reserve Fund, we have enough...

Vladimir Putin: I talked about this in my opening remarks.

Mr Shoigu, a couple of days ago I asked you, acting in cooperation with the military, to provide aid to several Georgian communities, where people need basic food and who were left in the lurch by their cowardly commanders. What has been done?

Sergei Shoigu: Mr Putin, we have paid special attention to these matters in the past four days, and work has been done quite effectively. In cooperation with the military, we have delivered aid to Gori, because people there needed help very much. We delivered approximately 40-45 metric tons daily. Today our work has been interrupted by the Georgian authorities, including the clergy. There was a large convoy carrying 56 metric tons...

Vladimir Putin: So far was the distribution carried out with the help of the church?

Sergei Shoigu: Yes, we worked with the help of the church. Eight heavy haulers arrived with 56 metric tons of provision. We managed to distribute 4 metric tons before Gori authorities and clergy arrived - most likely from Tbilisi - and demanded that we stopped doing this.

Vladimir Putin: Let them supply them by themselves. Did you do that for four days?

Sergei Shoigu: Yes, we did.

Vladimir Putin: Mr Shoigu, do you have any questions concerning South Ossetia that demand special attention apart from what you have already mentioned?

Sergei Shoigu: First of all, I would issue instructions to the Defence Ministry, the Interior Ministry and our Ministry to supply our forces and troops with vegetables and fruit for the winter in South Ossetia. We must amend our laws to do that, and Ms Nabiullina is aware of it. And in this case we'll be able to conduct a contest because the harvest is ready, but there is nobody to gather it, and there is no one to sell it. If we don't make a decision today...

Vladimir Putin: That's enough, thank you.

Mr Kozak, do you have anything to add? Be concise, please, only figures.

Dmitry Kozak: Mr Putin, colleagues.

Following the government resolution of August 11, I have done the following. The Government of North Ossetia has opened an account for aid to the refugees and forced migrants who have moved to the territory of North Ossetia and the Southern Federal District. Such an account was opened at all branches of Sberbank of the Russian Federation on August 13 (its details are available). 128 million roubles from individuals and legal entities, as well as from constituent entities of the Russian Federation, has already been received.

The next task is to organise reconstruction of high priority life-supporting objects. This work falls in the category of search-and-rescue, and is conducted out of the funds of the Reserve Fund. In agreement with this order, on August 13, a meeting with all representatives of federal executive authorities controlling some infrastructure objects, and with the governments of South Ossetia and North Ossetia was conducted. During this meeting a decision about the establishment of the interdepartmental working commission was made.

The commission has been given the task to adopt a plan of high priority measures concerning the reconstruction of major life-supporting objects, and also coordinate cooperation with the Government of South Ossetia, with its specialists. Such a mechanism was coordinated yesterday. The third task is to prepare by August 25 a complete plan of industrial and social infrastructure development of South Ossetia. I mean taking the infrastructure of the Republic and also employment of population to the required level, to the average level of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation in the Southern Federal District. That was also a request from the Government of South Ossetia. I think that the funds provided are sufficient to carry out that work.

By now a plan of first priority operations has been prepared and approved by the emergencies commission. At the moment, approval by other federal executive authorities is being carried out. All the specialists have the level of education necessary to make final decisions. This plan included 104 points, out of which nine concerned town-planning, 93 industrial and social infrastructure. Twenty-five of them are educational institutions, seven are medical institutions, eight concern engineering infrastructure, 13 roads and transportation, 13 electricity suppliers and 9 law-enforcement agencies, the Republic's Interior Ministry.

In addition more than 20 are civilian objects, administrative buildings which were destroyed and so on.

This plan will be approved in the near future. In order to implement all these arrangements we need a mechanism at the federal level, a mechanism that would guarantee access to the funds of the federal budget. Because at the moment there are preliminary estimates as of how much these works will cost for all 93 objects. About 3.5 billion roubles will be taken out of the federal budget.

Vladimir Putin: As far as I understand, for top-priority works.

Dmitry Kozak: We still have a lot of work for the next couple of months. In connection with that, we have brought in a draft government regulation where the start-up mechanism of these activities, acceptance mechanism and financing mechanism are described. We must legalise the interdepartmental working commission set up in Vladikavkaz by the decision of the Government. This interdepartmental working commission must coordinate the application of funds transferred by the Government to South Ossetia in respect of each object.

Vladimir Putin: Very good.

Mr Kudrin, could you please comment on what has been said by our colleagues? I mean financing of aid. All together 540 million roubles. And the reconstruction. Is the Ministry of Finance ready to supply these funds?

Alexei Kudrin: Mr Putin, all these procedures have been coordinated with the Ministry of Finance. The funds are being provided, including for the payment of compensations.

As to the mechanisms connected with additional allocation of funds - the 1.5 billion roubles for the reconstruction of top-priority objects has been allocated. This concerns a decision which is likely to be made by the Government today. The work of the Federal Treasury and separate federal agencies has been coordinated along these lines. These funds will be provided.

Vladimir Putin: We discussed the possibility of allocating approximately 10 billion roubles for all the reconstruction work regardless of prices and needs.

Alexei Kudrin: Mr Putin, we can increase support as soon as the objects are ready. I've already said that the Reserve Fund of the Russian Federation, the Fund of the Ministry for Emergency Situations and the fund of the balance between the Russian regions are the sources for transferring funds through North Ossetia for reconstruction. We can increase support, including the matters which Mr Shoigu has mentioned - increasing the prevention and relief of emergency situations funds. To date there is a sum of 2,104 million roubles in that fund. There are decisions and obligations for 990 million roubles. Thus, at the moment more than 1 billion roubles remains in the fund. And we can increase this fund at the expense of other budget items by 1.5 billion roubles.

Vladimir Putin: In other words, top-priority work will be covered?

Alexei Kudrin: All the work, Mr Putin, supervised by the Ministry for Emergency Situations, can be done.

Vladimir Putin: That's good.

Now let's turn to the pensions of Russian citizens in the conflict zone. Ms Golikova, and first of all, could you speak about medical aid, drugs and medical equipment?

Tatyana Golikova: Mr Putin, colleagues.

In his speech Mr Shoigu told us the number of citizens who referred to medical institutions from the beginning of the conflict. I won't repeat these figures. I can only add that to date, apart from those people who have been admitted at medical and preventive treatment centres as in-patients, there are 58 registered pregnant women, 12 of whom have already given birth and 16 are expected to give birth. Twelve women who have given birth are staying with families in North Ossetia.

The injured are also delivered to medical and preventive treatment centres in Moscow. Most of them are people with injuries from mine explosions and fragmentation wounds. Their condition is of average severity, and two cases are severe.

Today 10 more people were delivered from Vladikavkaz to Moscow medical and preventive treatment centres. They are primarily people with gunshot wounds and abscessed lesions, and without medical aid they can die.

By 9 am today the pensions for August were paid to 790 people. These payments started last Friday. The Ministry for Emergency Situations gave us active support in informing the population where they need to come to receive payments. And even today there is a positive trend concerning the return of people from North to South Ossetia. And about the payment procedures: if at 9 am 790 people received pensions, at 6 pm the number was already 1,083, and this dynamics is increasing.

We're ready to start paying out lump sums; the decision about them was made earlier. We have the lists; 10.2 million roubles out of the 21 million was transferred to the Government of North Ossetia. After we check the lists with personal data, we will start paying lump sums.

In addition, we're ready to pay pensions to the people who were actually living in South Ossetia but were registered in North Ossetia. We're ready to make these payments.

Today, as you said in your opening statement, at the Cabinet meeting today we have passed a draft regulation. It stipulates that 23.8 million roubles is to be paid for sanatorium treatment of people injured in the conflict in South Ossetia. This would mean 1,500 packages for non-working people to undergo treatment at sanatoriums in the Russian Federation, and about 720 packages and 7 million roubles for the rehabilitation of those injured people who underwent treatment in the hospitals in North Ossetia. That is why I urge you to support this draft regulation. Thereafter, we've already started to work in this direction.

Vladimir Putin: Good. Are schools and other educational institutions ready for the new school year?

Andrei Fursenko: From the very we focused on the organisation of the school year in South Ossetia for all the children who will stay there. After examining all the educational institutions, we found that several kindergartens and schools are beyond repair. That's why now a decision has been made to restore five schools which can resume their work by September 1, and organise the learning process in two shifts, which will cover all the children. And one school will be given to the South Ossetian University, because the main building of the University is beyond repair.

Therefore, all the children in Tskhinval can start studying. Rural schools have sustained less damage, and the learning process there can start without any problems. Simultaneously we propose to develop a medium-term reconstruction programme for the whole system of education, so that within observable terms we set up the whole system of training and personnel development - both at schools, specialised secondary educational establishments and at the university in South Ossetia.

Simultaneously schools and the university are being provided with books, text-books and school supplies. The question of text-books and school supplies has been resolved; lists have been compiled for other matters. We have arranged the delivery of all the necessary equipment and books to begin with. Simultaneously conditions have been created for teaching children who won't come back to South Ossetia by September, 1, and who are on the territory of the Russian Federation. There are two unresolved problems here. One of them is that part of the refugees has been settled in educational institutions. But we are gradually moving them out. By August 20, according to the plan worked out by the Federal Crisis Centre, all educational institutions of North Ossetia will have been vacated. Therefore, the educational process in North Ossetia will start in time. At the same time several hundred places for the children of refugees have been prepared in children's camps. Smena and Orlyonok are collecting requests so that all the children who were not able to come back to South Ossetia could start learning at these camps.

And one last thing. The development of the education system can be improved in the whole of South Ossetia if we expand several events of the national project to cover South Ossetia, too. There's cost cutting, for example payment for class management, delivery of equipment, payment of compensations for attending pre-school institutions. If appropriate instructions are made, we can include South Ossetian children in the national projects at the cost of this campaign.

Vladimir Putin: Yes, we'll do that.

Mr Korol, what about transportation infrastructure?

Boris Korol: The Ministry of Transportation, in cooperation with subordinate offices, primarily with Avtodor, has surveyed motorways and engineering structures, including 21 bridges. A plan of top-priority measures on the reconstruction of motorways in South Ossetia has been made, as well as a plan of procedures concerning the reconstruction of transportation infrastructure in the Republic for 2008-2011.

The bus terminal in Tskhinval has been reconstructed and the bus service between Tskhinval and Vladikavkaz has been resumed. At present, there are eight buses. As part of humanitarian aid a question about the delivery of 19 busses to the region, including four school busses has been discussed with a number of organisations in Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, the Rostov Region and the Moscow Region.

They are expected to be delivered by the end of this week, August 23. They're being transported to North Ossetia. In South Ossetia a motor transport enterprise has been established, and the work has started.

In the case of South Ossetia, we have also looked at the issue of delivering 20 KamAZ lorries. At the moment documents are being processed between the plant and North Ossetia-Alania. I think by the end of the week the problem will be resolved.

As to air transportation, on the whole the airports in the Southern Federal District are in normal working condition. Vladikavkaz's air companies were especially busy at the time. They were working round the clock. During this period they have received 540 heavy military aircraft with cargo. The team has been doing their work very well. All the questions connected with aviation fuel have been resolved. On August 16, 150 metric tons of reserve fuel was delivered, and 300 metric tons was delivered yesterday. This question is under control. We have daily fuel supply at virtually all the airports in the Southern Federal District.

As you know, starting from midnight on August 9, our flights to Georgia have been cancelled. Our transit routes bypass Georgia.

As to sea communication, it is practically non-existent in this region. The second security level has been introduced, the protection level. Apart from the Caucasus- Poti ferry, there are no other sea connections. It is true that its unloading has been stopped because of the explosion of the railway bed in Tbilisi.

As agreed with the Foreign Ministry, we have addressed a letter to our shipping companies with a request to take security questions into consideration when moving in this region.

As to the railway, on the whole its work has been quite secure. According to our estimates, all the applications made by Russian Railways have been carried out. A large load of glass was delivered last time. Now it is being delivered to South Ossetia. As to the deliveries of other load types, everything is also being carried out. That is all.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you. Operative search of the injured relatives. Konstantin Romodanovsky, please.

Konstantin Romodanovsky: The Migration Service registered more than 37,000 applications, including those who crossed the border more than once. Electronic data processing allows us to state that more than 32,000 people were injured, one third of whom are children.

At present people are moving very actively. In order to help people find their relatives we have opened a new search service on the website of the Federal Migration Service, of course taking into consideration the Law On Protection of Personal Data, which helps people find their relatives and get this information. In just four hours today, 465 applications were received, and 70% got a positive answer. I think this helps a great deal.

Vladimir Putin: We should explore where a long-term post in Tskhinval can be set up for people to be able to check with the database.

Konstantin Romodanovsky: That's the Internet.

Igor Shchegolev: Mr Putin, we're conducting the reconstruction of post offices, and they can be used to set up these facilities.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you. So that people could use that service.

Igor Shchegolev: That's right there.

Vladimir Putin: Good. Thank you. Let's take all these matters under strict control and make all our decisions today, especially the ones connected with financing.

Turning back to the agenda of our meeting, I'd like to emphasise the federal property privatisation programme for 2009 and major privatisation projects for 2010-2011.

At present, privatisation is mainly being carried out by optimising the structure of state property. We have said more than once that every level of authorities should have only the property which is necessary for the execution of its functions and public duties, and no more.

Today 5,709 unitary enterprises and 3,674 share packages in state joint stock companies. We should admit that we don't always work effectively in this sphere. And we know what the result is - dozens of state organisations have already gone out of business or are on the verge of bankruptcy.

We have to complete the formation of competitive integrated structures in key branches of industry. We've been dealing with this for the past 3-4 years. I am referring to the United Shipbuilding Corporation, the Joint Aircraft Building Corporation and several other companies. We should transfer the shares of specific businesses with development perspectives to their assets to turn them into modern producing companies.

Organisations which were not included into integrated structures and which are not necessary for the execution of state functions should be included in the privatisation programme. We simply need to get rid of them. It is useless to keep them, all they bring is additional expenses.

I must also mention the following. The Government issues a privatisation programme annually. And each time only half of it is executed as scheduled. The sale of certain organisations lasts for a couple of years.

That's the result of imperfect management structures and constant unwarranted restrictions. Bearing in mind the fight against corruption, not everything there is in order. I estimate that the Ministry of Economic Development will prepare a quotation to change the current situation as soon as possible.

The next point on the agenda which I'd like to pay special attention to is the issue of sports. Are you aware of how things are going at the Olympics? I hope, just as all the fans do, that we'll have more success in the middle and in the closing stages. And recent developments will contribute to that. I hope that it will turn out that way.

Today we should review a draft programme, one of those we spoke about earlier, the programme aimed at developing football, the most popular sport in our country. Some time ago - a year or 18 months - I mentioned the need for a special programme. We had a debate with the Government and came to the conclusion that the health of our citizens is our common priority. Including authorities on the federal, regional and municipal levels. And of course we must give an impetus from the federal level.

The programme in question should provide for a significant improvement of facilities and equipment at youth sports schools. Why don’t we have enough players to qualify for the national team? Isn’t it because there are many foreign players while we have for a long time failed to support youth sports.

In the near future over 500 new football fields, seven indoor arenas, and a training centre for our junior national team will be built. Advanced training of coaches to meet UEFA qualifications has been arranged.

For the above purposes, we need to allocate 19.1 billion roubles between now and 2015, with 10.6 billion to be financed out of the federal budget

Let's consider these questions.

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