20 january 2012

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin holds a Government Presidium meeting

Vladimir Putin

At a Government Presidium meeting

“Our positive demographic trend continues. We have received the latest data on this subject. This means that the efforts of the federal government and regional authorities have not been in vain. In 2011 over 1.7 million children were born and the death rate decreased by 5.6%. I’m pleased to say that these figures are the best Russia has seen in the last 19 years.”

Transcript of the beginning of the meeting:

Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon. We will begin as usual by exchanging the latest information. Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin and I have just visited the spot where the Rossiya Hotel used to be located and saw what is happening there. But listen, how many years has this place been in this condition – three years?

Remark: Four.

Vladimir Putin: We must do something about it. There have been numerous proposals and projects – the construction of a hotel complex, business centre or parliamentary building. We have looked at it now and we have decided to turn it into a park for Muscovites. Practically all parks in central Moscow have been destroyed. Mr Sobyanin, could you add something to what we have already discussed on the spot? 

Sergei Sobyanin: Mr Putin, I agree with this proposal. I’m pleased about it because the construction of any complex – whether a hotel, office and parliamentary complex – will create a heavy burden for the city centre. Even today it is impossible to drive into the centre, and any potential complex would only complicate things. Probably, the only facility that could be built there would be a concert hall in place of the Rossiya concert hall that we had before. It was a popular place at one time. We could build it – it wouldn't take up too much space. We estimate that about 11 hectares would be a park zone, with a concert hall occupying some 1.5 hectares. It would fit nicely in the park. But, as you rightly pointed out, it is necessary to discuss this with architects and local residents, to conduct contests to find the best project and to make the final decision.

Vladimir Putin: It is essential that this is discussed in the Moscow City Duma and that large-scale debates are held with Muscovites in various formats. If this project is adopted and carried out, a view of the Kremlin would instantly open up – we have just checked this out at the location.

Sergei Sobyanin: It would be a historic view of the Kremlin that Moscow has not had for a long time.

Vladimir Putin: Yes, because it was practically closed off from that side. Please, begin working on this, and I’d like to ask our colleagues to give you their support.

Remark: Thank you, Mr Putin, for this idea.

Sergei Sobyanin: Muscovites are sitting close by and they say this is great.

Vladimir Putin: Okay, it's settled. Now let’s turn to the second issue I’d like to discuss today. At the previous Government Presidium we spoke about the Defence Ministry and the Finance Ministry's preparations to pay higher salaries to army servicemen starting this January. The defence minister and his financial deputy reported on this issue at the previous meeting. This time I’d like to hear similar reports by the Minister of the Interior and Svetlana Perova, head of the fiscal department. There are several major points -- first, whether the ministries are prepared to increase payments and when they will start doing this.

Secondly, during meetings in various regions, Ministry of the Interior employees expressed their apprehensions regarding this issue. They are concerned that now that payments from regional budgets are discontinued, federal budget allocations will not be sufficient to pay markedly higher salaries to interior troops and Ministry of the Interior employees. Some fear they will receive even less. Please, Mr Nurgaliyev, go ahead.

Rashid Nurgaliyev: Mr Putin. These apprehensions are not justified. We have coordinated all normative documents and orders with the Finance Ministry according to the established procedure. We paid pensions in December and now, starting January 20, we have started paying higher salaries. Ms Perova will answer these questions in more detail, as she represents our fiscal department. We have no misgivings on this score. We have enough money to pay our army servicemen and Ministry of the Interior employees.

Vladimir Putin: Ms Perova, please go ahead.

Svetlana Perova: Mr Putin, we started this work well in advance and the personnel knew about it last year, and not only from the media. Our department held several teleconferences on this issue with all of our employees who are involvement in this work. Yesterday we transferred money to everyone who receives it on plastic cards. We pay salaries from the 20th to 25th by law, so today we are paying cash to those who receive cash because 70% of salaries have been transferred to cards. As we said, salaries have doubled in all regions. As for regional premiums, they… Moscow paid substantial bonuses – I’m referring to social payments out of the city budget – from 12 to 19 thousand roubles to employees and from 24 to 26 thousand roubles for those who work in the metro. These bonuses were paid to all employees regardless of whose payroll they were on.

Employees in the Moscow region were paid according to the same pattern, as well as those in the Khanty-Mansi Area. As for Moscow and the Moscow Region, we decided to pay additional premiums under special conditions, and we received approval for this from the Finance Ministry. For Moscow these premiums will be increased from 15% to 65% and for the Moscow Region to 65%. So, every employee receives premiums for special conditions in the region – 65% for Moscow. Most likely, this primarily concerns the police – they don’t feel it as much because the regional bonus they received was very large. They received 26 thousand instead of 12 thousand, which is quite serious. We believe we have resolved these issues, and we have coordinated them with the Finance Ministry. We will monitor these payments in the first quarter and will deal with any questions that may arise.

We have instructions from the president and from you concerning amendments to the law on police and the law on social guarantees. These amendments will provide for additional social payments for our employees.

Vladimir Putin: But let’s agree that you will monitor this not in the first quarter, but in the first and second months separately. This must be done every month.

Svetlana Perova: All right.

Vladimir Putin: We must see how this works out in practice. It's agreed, then.

Mr Shuvalov, please say a few words about our integration processes – with the WTO and the Common Economic Space.

Igor Shuvalov: Mr Putin, ladies and gentlemen. Before signing the protocol on December 16 on Russia’s WTO accession, branch departments and the Ministry of Economic Development conducted a meeting with representatives of different enterprises – big and small –  and branch unions on your instructions with the Commerce and Industry Chamber and the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs. The most serious concerns were voiced with regard to some industrial sectors, for example agricultural equipment production, pork production and swine imports in Russia. In each case we reported to you, Mr Putin, how we planned to deal with these problems.

Based on your directives, we organised union branch offices and agricultural community representatives to resolve these problems. These issues are being studied at the concerned ministries and departments. Immediately after the Presidium session, we will hold a session of the Government Commission on Economic Development and Integration, and we are expecting a consolidated report on all these problems by March 1, this year. We are expecting that by May 1, a consolidated bill will be prepared by the ministries and departments and approved by the Ministry of Economic Development. This bill will make it possible to resolve these issues as well as the issues ensuring benefits for auto manufacturers after July 1, 2018, - everything that we promised to do for them so that all these agreements would be effective in full measure until December 31, 2020, inclusive. We will submit the prepared documents for the government’s consideration jointly with the protocol on Russia’s accession to the WTO. So we will file, with the State Duma, in addition to the document on ratification, all the related laws and prepared bylaws in response to these problems and that take on these problems.  

We understand that the solutions to some problems will require additional funding. We extended subsidies of an additional 6 billion roubles to the agriculture industry. These funds will be transferred from the moment Russia’s accession to the WTO is ratified. At this point we are working with the Ministry of Finance on the other issues. We do not see any additional sources for these funds; nevertheless we are taking up the liabilities so that this issue can be resolved in the aggregate – the protection of national producers by administrative measures and their financial support along with the ratification of the Protocol on Accession. 

Vladimir Putin: Good.

Igor Shuvalov: On the Common Economic Space. Mr Putin, since January 1, the Common Economic Space of Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus has come into effect, and on February 1 the Eurasian Economic Commission will be in effect. On January 25, the last session of the Customs Union Commission will be held and the first session of the Eurasian Economic Commission Council will be held. Both matters of substance and organisational issues will be discussed. We have six months for the Eurasian Economic Commission, headed by Viktor Khristenko, to receive all the authority from the Secretariat of the Customs Union Commission and for this mechanism to start operating in full. Last December, the presidents  decided to transform the EurAsEC. By March, when the presidents meet again, we are to submit a concept on reforming the Eurasian Economic Community. There is a proposal to use the EurAsEC as a basis document for the formation of the Eurasian Economic Union. We had planned to do it on January 1, 2015, but now the presidents want to accelerate this work. We will prepare a preliminarily version of this document and report to you. 

Vladimir Putin: Good. When will the commission start working?

Igor Shuvalov: The first session of the commission council will be held on January 25, and the board headed by Viktor Khristenko will start functioning on February 1.

Vladimir Putin: Mr Khristenko will be working at an international organisation, not in the Government of the Russian Federation, but in an international organisation, is that so? 

Igor Shuvalov: Mr Putin, it is not an international organisation, it is a supranational body.

Vladimir Putin: Well, international organisation…

Igor Shuvalov: Legally it is an international organisation, but it essentially differs from other international organisations because it has some national functions. And, of course, the status of Mr Khristenko and the other board members who are described as ministers in the agreement differs from national ministers in that a national minister is appointed by the president of a country, and these officials are appointed by the consensus of three presidents.  

Vladimir Putin: Well, good, thank you very much.

Mr Levitin (to Igor Levitin), on December 17, in Magadan, we held a conference in support of regional airlines, and a draft governmental document was then prepared. We will discuss subsidies for 82 airlines in four federal districts. How do you propose to organise this?

Igor Levitin: Mr Putin, colleagues. According to the elaborated rules, a list of routes has been determined in four federal districts for the period between April 1 and October 31. We determined these air routes based on locations that cannot be reached by rail, that is, there is no other transportation. We have a federal budget allocation of one billion roubles per year for a three-year period. This programme will be a co-investment project in cooperation with the constituent entities of the Russian Federation. We estimate that these airlines will transport about 300,000 passengers. For the first time, the residents of these regions will be able to buy tickets at special rates that will be 50% lower: we plan to subsidise up to 50% of this airfare. In addition, we have granted priority access to these subsidies to airlines that use modern Russian aircraft, this work has begun.  

Vladimir Putin: Good. Only watch it closely; this needs to happen.

Igor Levitin: Yes, sir!

Vladimir Putin: The funds should reach them.

Now (to Anton Siluanov), Mr. Siluanov, a few words on the federal and regional funding for the social support of orphans. The major problem is the provision of housing. Last year, in 2011, we increased federal budget funding by 5.6 times. By 5.6 times! In this regard the number of people getting housing must increase significantly. The initial number we proposed was 1,300, right? And in fact, 18,000 cases were to be implemented last year, that is, 18,000 orphans were to get flats last year. Next year we plan a volume that is not less than the previous, this is over 6 billion roubles (6.2 billion roubles). How was this programme carried out? By the way, Ms Golikova (to Tatyana Golikova), you have this information…

Anton Siluanov: Yes, we have this information Mr Putin. The allocations to the constituent entities of the Russian Federation increased from 1.1 billion roubles in 2010 to 6.2 billion roubles in 2011, and this had significant results in terms of providing housing for orphans. The total funds allocated by the constituent entities, including our support, was 17.8 billion roubles last year or an increase of approximately 7 billion roubles over 2010. Accordingly, the number of children getting housing increased.    

You were correct in saying that last year the number of such children was 18,172 an increase of 5,302 compared with 2010. This is a large increment. And in 2012-2014, we will maintain the same level of support for the regions in providing housing to orphans. We hope that the constituent entities of the Russian Federation will increase their share in this programme and that the number of children getting housing will grow each year.

Vladimir Putin: Ms Golikova (to Tatyana Golikova), do you have information on…

Tatyana Golikova: Through Mr Fursenko (Andrei Fursenko).

Vladimir Putin: Referring to the competence of Mr Fursenko. I’ll talk to him again. It is necessary that the ministry submit the respective information in addition. Good.


We have some good news, too. Our positive demographic trend continues. We have received the latest data on this subject. This means that the efforts of the federal government and regional authorities have not been in vain. In 2011 over   1.7 million children were born and the death rate decreased by 5.6%. I’m pleased to say that these figures are the best Russia has seen in the last 19 years. Overall, the population loss also decreased 1.8 times, and the average life expectancy increased one and half years to 70.3 years in 2011 in the Russian Federation. These indices are absolutely comparable with European indices. 

The infant mortality rate decreased, too. Including immigration, the total Russian population grew by 160,000 to 143 million. I want to thank you for your work in this area. I also want to point out that it is necessary to do much more than has recently been done. The demographic problem remains one of the most sensitive problems in Europe and in Russia, in particular. Meanwhile I am glad to note that our efforts have not been in vain. It is necessary to intensify our efforts in this area.

Ms Golikova, go ahead, please say a few words on high technology medical assistance.

Tatyana Golikova: Before discussing high technology medical assistance, Mr Putin, yesterday I… We received this data very late, yesterday. This is preliminary data; we have not received details on the regions. The latter would help us submit full information including morbidity to you and all government members.

Yesterday you met with representatives of the Football Union. You were asked a question about drinking beer in the stadiums. Just as a citizen of Russia and also as the Minister of Healthcare and Social Development, I ask you not to take this decision, because the results that we have received including life expectancy increased, 18 months for men and women, are very significant. The figure that you mentioned was our objective for 2015. We reached it already. The analysis of all the factors that influence mortality reduction shows that the promotion of a healthy way of life makes a considerable contribution to a reduction in the mortality rate.

Vladimir Putin: This is the result of a comprehensive effort.

Tatyana Golikova: Of course. Conceptually, it is necessary to intensify the effort against bad habits, not to retreat. This is my request.

Vladimir Putin: Beer has many…

Igor Shuvalov: Beneficial ingredients.

Vladimir Putin: I wanted to say “female hormones,” and he says “beneficial ingredients”! Are you a football fan?

Igor Shuvalov: Yes.

Vladimir Putin: I see.

Dmitry Kozak: (Beer should be) forbidden to men and permitted for women.

Igor Shuvalov: They (women) just don’t need much.

Vladimir Putin: Kozak, it’s done! Let women be allowed to drink beer in stadiums and no beer for men, excellent!

Dmitry Kozak: Moderate (consumption).

Tatyana Golikova: As for high technology medical assistance, I want to remind you that our budget for 2012 includes 51.8-billion roubles for this task. Compared with what we spent between 2006 and 2011, it is almost half of all the funds we spent over the past six years. In the last six years, we spent 102.8 billion roubles; now we are spending 51.8 billion roubles. In the last six years we treated 1,385,500 Russian citizens and offered them high technology medical assistance. In 2011, there were 322,500 patients, 17% of them children. The number of citizens who will receive high technology medical assistance in 2012 is 358,000; it will increase by 35,500.

It is noteworthy that the regions participate in this process with a fair amount of activity. At first we didn’t allocate anything from these funds to the regions, because the regional hospitals were not capable of offering this level of high technology medical assistance. Now, in the process of developing and modernising the medical institutions in the regions, we have the possibility of extending these subsidies. In 2012, from this total of 51.8 billion roubles, we will extend five billion roubles to the regions.  Last year, 55 regions participated in the programme. I think this year our ability to help the regions will grow.

I would like to draw your attention to the new high technology centres that have been started: they have carried out 40,000 high tech operations in this last period after being launched. Gradually they are reaching their designed capacity: those that were commissioned in the first years have now reached their design capacity; and those commissioned in 2011 are reaching their design capacity now. We expect the last five centres to be started in 2012, according to Russian Technologies State Corporation data. We do not expect any surprises, everything will run on schedule, I think.

And one more point concerning high technology assistance. This 17% proportion of high technology operations carried out on children includes mostly very complicated and expensive operations … In the aforementioned six-year period the cost of one operation increased two and half times. Here are some examples: in 2001, 39 children received special “growing” oncology prosthesis. These are the gravest cancer diseases: our experts have learned to save such children. And 1,100 children have received cochlear implants. They have impaired hearing, and with this device and the proper tuning, they can hear and socialize. And 3,400 infants got medical assistance in the neonatology area and in raising low-birth-weight babies. This was made possible by the neonatology and low-weight-baby-care technology that we have been developing for two years under the Healthcare National Priority Project. In 2012, the possibilities will expand, because we have practically concluded the start-up of prenatal centres.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you. Now a few words on the agenda.

The first thing that I would like to note, today we should take a decision on improving social and legal guarantees for members of militarised mine rescue units. I want to note that these are unique people, unique experts. There are only 4,670 such experts in this country. Only 4,670! These are the people that risk their lives, working in the most complicated conditions, at great depth, in tunnels, mines and so on. This is the only organisation in Russia that has the means to carry out unique rescue operations underground, as I said, deep under the earth.

Last year, these mine rescuers were involved in operations at 37 major accidents in coal-mining and other extractive facilities. Over 600 injured got urgent medical assistance including 150 victims who received medical assistance on the spot. Some absolutely unique things have happened. I recall a 1997 case when a mine rescuer, a doctor, in a prone position, alone, in extremely difficult conditions, amputated a miner’s leg that was stuck in the collapsed mine. And by the way, media outlets and journalists should focus more on such people. We need less glamour and more people who really work and perform for society to be shown on TV. Perhaps it would serve for the better good.

Mine rescuers are engaged in a very complicated, risky and responsible work, so it would be fair to grant them the same legal guarantees and the same legal status as that of the rescuers of the Ministry of Civil Defence, Emergencies and Disaster Relief. These include housing, retirement pay, a more extensive range of compensation, and so on.

And I would like to note one more agenda point concerned with aircraft sector development. Between last January and November, total aircraft passenger trips increased 13%; this is the best indicator for all types of transport in Russia. The wear and tear of the airplane fleet is pretty high; yet there is one company that can boast a much better position in this respect. The average age of the fleet is 16.3 years through 2010, but Aeroflot’s fleet is only five years old: this is a young airline with newer aircraft. But generally a lot has to be done in this area. We will talk about that today, too.

We will also discuss the issue of the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment standards to be used in Russia. These standards are to simplify access for Russian manufacturers, carriers and financial companies on the aircraft equipment global market.

And the last point. The Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2012. The CSTO countries have accumulated a serious and cooperative experience. This is an important and efficient organisation. Today we will discuss the issue of ratifying the agreement that is designed to consolidate military, technical and scientific cooperation in CSTO.

There are some other issues as well. Let’s get to work.

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