31 january 2012

Vladimir Putin meets with Vitaly Mutko, Minister of Sport, Tourism and Youth Policy, in Tambov

The purpose of this meeting was to resolve the situation with the Lanta-Tur Voyage travel agency. The prime minister instructed the minister to assist the agency in settling its accounts with its foreign contractors for the sake of Russian citizens who are currently abroad on holiday, so they can complete their journeys and come back safely. He reported that there is an agreement with a state-run bank to help in resolving the situation.

Transcript of the beginning of the meeting:

Vladimir Putin: Mr Mutko, I would like to discuss the situation with the Lanta-Tur Voyage travel agency. How many of its clients are still abroad? 1,500?

Vitaly Mutko: Around 1,416 people are still in Thailand, Vietnam and the Dominican Republic. Another thousand people booked their trips and were supposed to travel between now and mid-April.

Vladimir Putin: This travel agency has existed for quite a while and did well until now. At a first glance, there is no evidence of any wrongdoing, but everything must be checked and law enforcement agencies are currently investigating. For now, we should consider the problem as purely financial. The company did not expect this to happen. Now we need to think about the easiest way to secure the interests of our citizens. What needs to be done? We must help this company in repaying its debts to its foreign contractors in order for our citizens to complete their journeys and come home – at their own expense and under the agreement they had with the company. This means your colleagues must calculate the approximate costs. I have already discussed this with one of the state-run banks. They are ready to help, provided the money is repaid later. This is the first point. Please do this as soon as possible. I hope your efforts, coordinated with the Foreign Ministry, will help resolve this problem.

Second. Obviously, we must think about how to improve the law in this area. For example, a self-regulatory organisation could be established that would take charge of similar situations and resolve financial and commercial matters directly between insurance companies. Our people must not be held responsible and shouldn’t face these kinds of situations at all. Please think about this, and I will be waiting for your proposals.

Vitaly Mutko: We will, Mr Putin. Our representatives are in Thailand now along with representatives of the Foreign Ministry. We are in the middle of negotiations with the government of Thailand, the Dominican Republic and Vietnam. We will insist that our people not be evicted for the company’s failure to pay its contractors.

I should mention that all the Russian tourists involved are flying with Aeroflot or Transaero. If any of them want to leave earlier we will make sure they have this option. But I believe we will resolve this tomorrow and try settling the financial matters of this company as instructed.

Vladimir Putin: What do you mean you will try? The bank is willing to help. So, we should consider this matter resolved. This company’s contractors must be absolutely certain that the obligations will be fulfilled. The next step is to secure the interests of the state and the government bank. As far as I know from your report, the management of this travel company is not evading its responsibility. It keeps in touch with you and is looking for solutions. So please deal with this question without delay.

Vitaly Mutko: Alright.