31 january 2012

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin visits a sport and adaptive school for mentally and physically disabled children and teenagers during a working visit to the Tambov Region


Before entering the school, the prime minister ascended the slope to watch the training of downhill skiers. At present, 80 people with impaired vision train at the alpine skiing department.

After watching the training, Vladimir Putin entered the school, where he had a conversation with coaches and students over a cup of tea.


Vladimir Putin: I’d like to repeat once again what I was saying when I climbed the hill. Honestly, it was by chance that I saw in the media the work done here and the difficulties you are facing in achieving your goal – helping guys with disabilities. I saw them skiing. People who are nearly or totally blind and who do alpine skiing. You know I was dumbfounded. I had never seen anything like it. I also realised that you had problems, many problems. So I decided to visit you and discuss with you what else should be done for your school and similar schools in the country so as to help enthusiasts like yourselves and these courageous guys you are training.

As you know, the 2012 Olympic Games will take place in London soon.  Our Paralympic  team will comprise 200 athletes.

Remark: We are working for this goal.

Vladimir Putin: Yes, this is 70% more than the number of Paralympians we sent to Beijing. Just imagine – 70% more! These guys are very active in sports. Four years ago we had centres for athletes with disabilities only in 15 regions, whereas now we have them in 58 regions. I know you are establishing a specialised  adaptive school here in Tambov.

Remark: It was registered the other day, on January 27.

Vladimir Putin: Yes, that was quick. Well done!

Remark: Mr Mutko provided the impetus for this. Now all of the country’s schools receive budget subsidies from the federal government.

Vitaly Mutko: The government allocated one billion roubles in subsidies, including 600 million to reimburse travel expenses and 400 million for regional schools. We would like to report to you by the end of the year. Maybe it would make sense to increase this sum for next year because there will be more schools. Now there are 15 specialised schools in the country and they all have branches…

Vladimir Putin: Yes, I know. They already have more than 250 groups.

Vitaly Mutko: Yes, 250 branches.

Remark: All in all, there are 5,500 schools. Of course, 15 and 5,500 are incomparable figures and this is why on Mr Mutko’s instructions we have drafted in the Paralympic Committee a collection of regulatory acts to help regions build these schools.

Vladimir Putin: Mr Betin, have you signed on the heads of the school?

Oleg Betin: (Governor of the Tambov Region): Yes, they are on the staff. The Oleinikovs performed their functions under the contract, but once the school opened they were brought on staff and now they will receive monthly salaries. We have also specified the bonuses we will pay to those who work with people with disabilities.

Vladimir Putin: How many coaches do you have?

Oleg Betin: About 20.

Vladimir Putin: No, I mean here.

Oleg Betin: The Oleinikovs – husband and wife – work in this centre.

Vladimir Putin: Just the two of them?

Oleg Betin: They are true enthusiasts.

Raisa Oleinikova: We have done everything, this is true.

Oleg Betin: And now their first athlete will take part in trials at the national championship, as we have already discussed.

Raisa Oleinikova: This is the fifth. The first one was in Sochi.

Oleg Betin: Yes, the first one was in Sochi.

Vladimir Putin: This is great. You have become a coach of the national team, haven’t you?

Raisa Oleinikova: Yes.

Vladimir Putin: I wonder how the guys are skiing.

Remark: Let them talk about it.

Vladimir Putin: You are a skier, aren’t you?

Raisa Oleinikova: I’m a candidate master.

Vladimir Putin: And what is your name?

Sergei Churilov: Sergei.

Vladimir Putin: How can you ski being blind, especially in the mountains? I can understand it is possible to do cross-country skiing…

Sergei Churilov: Well, I’m not very good at cross-country skiing; it’s not my cup of tea, but when it comes to downhill skiing, especially if I can make it… Words can’t describe it – it’s like flying, totally unpredictable…When I feel I made it I have a huge smile on my face after a training session and I want to go back out and keep skiing.

Vladimir Putin: You aren’t scared?

Sergei Churilov: No. One time I was going downhill and didn’t even notice that I made a flipped and landed on my bottom. I didn’t even feel anything. It was great.

Vladimir Putin: Well, it’s better to do without such experiments.

Sergei Churilov: It’s training, that’s how it is.

Vladimir Putin: How do you do it? I don’t quite understand how you can ski.

Sergei Churilov: I go by ear. Imagine, the leader is skiing next to me, ahead of me and I have to follow him closely… I have a problem though. I don’t have a loud voice transmitter. If the leader had it on his back I would hear him better.

Vladimir Putin: So, for the time being you are…

Sergei Churilov: I just follow the voice.

Vladimir Putin: Just the voice?

Remark: The leader just skis ahead and yells “yes-yes-yes” and he follows him. It’s very difficult, both for him and the leader.

Remark: The leader skis sideways.

Sergei Churilov: When I start gaining speed, his voice disappears and I don’t hear him anymore.

Vladimir Putin: This is natural because everything there makes noise, and the skis creak.

Remark: But the wind simply carries the sound away …

Vladimir Putin: Sure, sure.

Remark: Yes, they also announce all the results on the radio.

Sergei Churilov: You can hear this from some distance away. When you're just standing there and someone skis by, you can hear this from quite far away. But the sensations you experience are entirely different when you're skiing yourself.

Vladimir Putin: I think a person has to be completely fearless.

Remark: We have many such people.

Vladimir Putin: I can’t imagine closing my eyes and pushing off. I will not do this.

Remark: You should give it a try.

Vladimir Putin: It would be very hard to make me do this. Are there any special communicators?

Remark: There are loudspeakers.

Remark: Mr Mutko has resolved all these issues at the level of the national team. Speaking of … What’s so good about the subsidies that are now being allocated by the Ministry of Sport, Tourism and Youth Policy? We will be able to establish training centres for the teams of children’s sport schools across the country. As a result, the national team will receive a more substantial reserve. This is not difficult.

Remark: Speaking of communicators, a sensor is placed on your back, and you can hear what is being said …

Vladimir Putin: Because you also need to keep your distance from the leader, so as not to crash into him.

Remark: It’s the leader who needs to worry about this.

Remark: He should feel this, and the results should indicate this. In our case, athletes who are at least masters of sport international class lead the way during ski races and biathlon events.

Vladimir Putin: With the biathlon, sure. But what about alpine skiing?

Remark: Blind people shoot in the direction of a sound and win everything. Our guys over in Vancouver and Turin …   

Vladimir Putin: No, look, it's possible to fire while prone or while standing in the direction of sound, but while accelerating and skiing downhill …

Remark: It is possible.

Remark: The most important thing is stop in time.

Sergei Churilov: You must also ski through the gates.

Vladimir Putin: Really, I don’t understand how it is possible to ski through the gates. How long have you been training already?

Sergei Churilov: I have been training for six years now.

Vladimir Putin: Great! Six years! as far as I know, you have a communicator. What else is missing here? I have taken a look, and you seem to have some problems with your boots and skis.

Remark: We have problems with the skis, shoes and the ski lift.

Remark: This year, they gave us 13 pairs of skis and six pairs of boots.

Vladimir Putin: And how many do you need?

Remark: The more, the better. There are many enthusiasts.

Vladimir Putin: Are there?

Remark: Yes, there are quite a lot of them. People with problems of the locomotive system come and ask to be admitted. They want to train, but it’s impossible for them to train here. There are no suitable conditions for this. There is no ski lift.

Vladimir Putin: Well, we will install a ski lift at your place. We will do this.

Remark: Good. There is also the problem of lighting.

Vladimir Putin: When we were walking here, towards your premises, towards your office, Mr Mutko said that the ski lift will be installed. So, you can rest assured that this issue has been resolved.

Vitaly Mutko: Mr Betin and I have just spoken, and we will assess this project together here. We will build a quality alpine skiing facility here. The facility will include a ski lift and a 450-metre course. There will be a good ski lift …

Vladimir Putin: And we need some premises here.

Vitaly Mutko: This will be done. Now that the centre has been built …

Oleg Betin: There is a managing company, and we have chosen the premises here in this building.

Vitaly Mutko: Mr Betin, we will install a module.

Vladimir Putin: Mr Mutko is right. Perhaps we should install a module?

Vitaly Mutko: Sure, they will get a module with a locker room and a ski storage facility, a small classroom and a medical facility. We will install such a module, and that’s it.

Raisa Oleinikova: A small gym.

Vitaly Mutko: Yes, a small gym.

Vladimir Putin: This will not take up much space, the children will come …

Oleg Betin: There's a plateau there. This is good because we wanted to hold winter games. It will be possible to attach this facility to a mountain, to a high-altitude point. We will do this so that the climb up will be more comfortable.

Vladimir Putin: People will simply find it easier to train here, and they will be able to take off their clothes …

Sergei Churilov: Getting here is a problem.

Vladimir Putin: Can’t you get here using public transportation?

Sergei Churilov: The transport network is located elsewhere. We always have to find someone to bring people here.

Vitaly Mutko: We can buy a bus for the centre. The centre will start developing, of course, and it will receive a bus.

Oleg Betin: No, we have already purchased the bus.

Vladimir Putin: No, the bus is …

Oleg Betin: We have already bought the bus. We will simply have to call the bus driver on such days.

Vladimir Putin: What days? They come here every day.

Oleg Betin: We can do this, and we can open a bus route there.

Vladimir Putin: Sure, open the bus route, and that’s it.

Oleg Betin: We will place a Gazel shuttle on the route, and it will run on time.

Vladimir Putin: See, we have resolved one more issue. But the shuttle must run.

Oleg Betin: Of course. As far as the route is concerned, we must build a road and facilitate everything, including road safety.   

Vladimir Putin: Mr Mutko, how quickly can the module be installed?

Vitaly Mutko: Mr Putin, it will take three months to install the module. You see, this involves surveying and tie-in operations. Mr Betin should accomplish this, and we will quickly complete our part of the job.

* * *

After leaving the school, Vladimir Putin talked to Tambov residents who had been waiting to see him. The prime minister assured them that the reforms that have been initiated will be continued. A woman asked the prime minister about the future of the city’s development programmes. He answered that in 2012 regional budgets would additionally receive around 90 billion roubles for road construction, the improvement of communal areas between blocks of flats, and other needs. “I hope it will not be a one-off measure, but rather constant, systematic work,” Vladimir Putin said.