Prime Minister Vladimir Putin visits the construction site of Moscow Youth Centre KVN Planet, talks with participants of KVN Major and Premier Leagues


This meeting was held at the former Havana Cinema. Last year the building was transferred to KVN (a question and comedy TV show) and now it is being renovated for the show’s use. Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin and the President of AMiK Television, Alexander Maslyakov, announced about the transfer of the Moscow cinema to the KVN Youth Centre at their meeting last November.

Vladimir Putin was accompanied by Sergei Sobyanin and Alexander Maslyakov while inspecting the club’s auditorium, also being renovated. The Moscow mayor explained that the auditorium would hold up to 800 people, while it used to hold 500. He also said the club was initially offered 16 façade designs; three were chosen and now are being approved. 

The prime minister inspected the project as well as the model of the façade which is the frontrunner in the “architectural competition.”

Transcript of the meeting:

Sergei Sobyanin: We have followed through on this: we reviewed all the subsidies, today; I signed an executive order to support the Moscow Mayor’s Cup. 

Vladimir Putin: Mr Maslyakov, apart from the premises, the city promised some subsidies as well. 

Sergei Sobyanin: Subsidies to hold the event.

Alexander Maslyakov:  Thank you for remembering, Mr Putin. Thank you for everything and for remembering. Everything the Moscow authorities promised – and we thank them also – everything is being done as agreed.  We are waiting for the construction to end, and, in terms of subsidies, right from the beginning of the season we have… The agreement has been signed and we are starting.

Vladimir Putin: The construction is expected to be finished at the end of the year, right?

Alexander Maslyakov: During the meeting with the political analysts you said that all kinds of promises could be given but that they need to be realistic and feasible.  This construction is scheduled to end in December this year.

Vladimir Putin: How many steps are needed for construction, Mr Sobyanin?

Sergei Sobyanin: Steps? Well, first is the reconstruction of the halls. The building is in very bad condition. We are strengthening the foundation. Then we will start the reconstruction, provide technical equipment for the TV studio and so forth. And of course, the façade is a big part of the project. As you have seen, it will be difficult to construction.

Alexander Maslyakov: We chose the simplest design.

Serge Sobyanin: This summer we will fully redevelop this area so it can be used by neighbourhood residents in addition to KVN. 

Vladimir Putin: Mr Sobyanin mentioned that; very good plans indeed, to include landscaping, parking lots on the left…

Alexander Maslyakov: Yes, yes. We’ve been to the Northeastern District prefecture, and the project is under way, we were shown… the proposals at the site; they must be great.

Sergei Sobyanin: One idea included a covered walkway from the metro to the KVN building.

Alexander Maslyakov: Then KVN members might have no problem getting “home”. I think we are making this too easy…

Vladimir Putin: Red carpet, what about that…

Alexander Maslykov: Well, this is one of the projects. It will be too much like Cannes and we don’t need that.

Sergei Sobyanin: Another thing we promised was to support the Moscow Mayor’s Cup, by sponsoring it.  I signed the order today.

Alexander Maslyakov: Yes, during “Red November” we are planning several diverse projects to celebrate KVN’s anniversary.

Vladimir Putim: It is also necessary to promote the historical decision of the mayor.

Alexander Maslyakov: Which one?

Vladimir Putin: To transfer the building.

Alexander Maslyakov: What do you propose?

Vladimir Putin: To promote it using the Moscow Mayor’s Cup.

Alexander Maslyukov: Yes, of course. We even held a CIS Cup: teams from the CIS, former Soviet Republics, in particular Moldova, Tajikistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, the Baltic states came, and we couldn’t even imagine they would.  In general, the Mayor’s Cup should be an open event, rather than only a Moscow event…

Vladimir Putin: They don’t need to come, they’re all here, that’s why they need to be formed on-site.

Alexander Maslyakov: Well not all the teams are here on-site, but nevertheless…

Well, I don’t know honestly, but here is our tea. Please drink. You can ask questions if you have any.

Vladimir Putin:  Tell us how this project has gone, any problems or questions, so we can discuss them, since we’re here.

Alexander Maslyakov: Well, as for the progress made in construction, the Moscow government has treated it wonderfully. I’m pleasantly surprised at the pace of construction. In the Soviet Union everything was constructed much slower, but there is a good pace here; we have discussed everything. We told the young people that besides the auditorium there would be rehearsal halls, a café-club and a small TV studio to record programmes in the auditorium. Everything seems to be well thought out. Well, some problems crop up at the last minute as usual, but I think the basic issues are well thought out. And we have invited the people from the rehearsals here, mostly the young teams, and they will perform on February 12, the first day of the season.  I believe that they really liked it and confirmed…

Vladimir Putin: Won’t this work to rebuild the centre hinder KVN’s current activity? Will you make them come here on community workout days?

Alexander Maslyakov: No. KVN is organized in a way that it’s impossible to make anybody do something. You know, all of them are artists, creators, and they are doing everything the way they want it. I don’t know, maybe we will take the opportunity and talk…

Vladimir Putin: Of course.

Alexander Maslyakov: Well? Come on, KVN members, if you have questions, ask them.  I’ve got some questions, but you’d better go first. Who will it be?

Introduce yourself. This is the team from Chelyabinsk, a very young team; they will play in the Major League for the first time. Come on, what do you have?

Darya Chepasova: You have already introduced us. Thank you. You know there are lots of KVN fans in Chelyabinsk as well as in other Russian cities, we are sure of this.

Vladimir Putin: Some 110 cities play KVN.

Darya Chepasova: We have a question: tell us please whether it is possible to open in other cities, for instance, Chelyabinsk…

Vladimir Putin: With the help of the Moscow mayor…

Darya Chepasova: Well, maybe not buildings, but at least some KVN rooms?

Alexander Maslyakov: Not necessarily a building all at once.

Darya Chepasova: No, not a building – but a flat, a KVN flat.

Alexander Maslyakov: A room.

Vladimir Putin: Some 110 cities play KVN, 40,000 people, 2,000 teams, with an audience of almost five million people a year, I think.

Alexander Maslyakov: Well, in fact, 10 million people play in Russia. These are not necessarily some teams that were taken into account.

Vladimir Putin: According to the materials I have, up to five million people gather at the halls and, of course, the mayors of these cities must respond to this the same way as Moscow’s mayor has.  And the fact is that millions of people are keen on it. I’ll talk with the governors.

Alexander Maslyakov: To be fair, it should be mentioned that many regional heads provide support, but not all of them. Now you can have a KVN room in Chelyabinsk.

Sergei Sobyanin: Chelyabinsk is a big city; there must be a big room.

Maxim Kiselyov: Excuse me, may I ask a question?

Alexander Maslyakov: Smolensk. The Triode and Diode team, they are not novices in KVN, but on February 12 they will perform in the Major League as well.

Maxim Kiselyov: Maxim Kiseyov, passport data… but I think you know.

Alexander Maslyakov: Maxim, I think your passport data is no secret to anybody here. There is no need to talk about it.

Vladimir Putin: I have not paid attention to these things for twenty years. There are special people to do this.

Maxim Kiselyov: You know, we heard that you initiated the transition to not change to standard time. We wondered: please tell us, you are doing this to get to work one hour later, aren’t you?

Vladimir Putin: No. I initiated nothing, but many questions have been asked about this, and I did discuss this issue with Mr Medvedev. I will say what I have already said: Mr Medvedev did this to respond to the wishes of the working people. 

Alexander Maslyakov: And students may want to get more sleep as well.

Vladimir Putin: Actually, many were displeased with the time transition saying that the body’s clock cannot adjust and so forth. Some problems started arising, let’s say, for instance, a three hour time difference from Europe. This is a serious gap for fans, business people, for those involved in business.  We don’t have to stay with this decision, but we need to review the practice attentively, without any hurry, and consult with the experts. I’ll say once again – no one pushed this decision. This was simply my opinion and Dmitry Medvedev’s opinion.

Alexander Maslyakov: Tell us why you are interested in this issue.

Maxim Kiselyov: Thank you for asking Mr Maslyakov. We had this joke written down, and we asked you whether we could use it. You said we could.

Vladimir Putin: Smolensk residents, after the city was first conquered in 1611, and then in 1812, always ask for permission just in case.

Maxim Kiselyov: They check all the available information.

Vladimir Putin: You need to give credit to Smolensk residents; they have never asked anything for no reason.

Alexander Maslyakov: Are you really looking to become this season’s champions?

Maxim Kiselyov: You said that.

Alexander Maslyakov: I asked rather than said. Anybody else?

Irina Chesnokova: I have a question.

Alexander Maslyakov: Yes, Irina, please. This is…

Vladimir Putin: And we have questions for you as well.

Alexander Maslyakov: And this is the St Petersburg team.

Vladimir Putin: I knew that.

Alexander Maslyakov: This is Ira, Sasha, and Sergei must be here somewhere. There he is. This team is called “Journalism Department.” It will perform in the Major League for the first time.

Vladimir Putin: Please.

Irina Chesnokova: I would like to ask about the following issue. There is some talk that these long holidays following the New Year will be abolished.

Vladimir Putin: No, no. The situation…

Irina Chesnokova: We have a Sochi festival coming. What will we do?

Vladimir Putin: When we initiated the Christmas holidays we were proceeding from the fact that the Russian people have the right to have a rest over Christmas the way other countries do, first. And second, we are a Northern country and the period of, climatically speaking, our difficult time is quite long: from November to March, almost. And, generally, a long break is necessary for this depressive period. But now we hear some complaints and problems that the holidays are long. This is what we have, look, from January 1 to January 7 is the Orthodox Christmas. Including the weekends, the break can last as long as 9-10 or even 11 days. And that’s why I proposed not adding them to the Christmas holiday and to draw the line at January 7, perhaps moving the other holidays to May. Then we will have seven days maximum rather than ten, and we will have an additional couple of weekends in May.

Alexander Maslyakov: And when would the examination session start? I was a student a long time ago. What are the dates?

Remark: The examination session starts January 11, after the holidays.

Alexander Maslyakov: So now there is no time to prepare for the exams because of the holidays?

Remark: We are always preparing.

Alexander Maslyakov: I remember this from my student days.

So, anybody else? Yes, this is Moscow. A team with an original name, Sega Mega Drive. I have never managed to understand what this means exactly, but I will try to understand it by February 12. Please.

Andrei Glinsky: The question is as follows, most of us are talented people. We have our own TV studio, we have lots of ideas, we can film some of our own projects: TV programmes, shows. We can record, we have all the necessary tools, but it’s unclear exactly where to broadcast it. Channel One does not have enough air time for everybody. It would be great if we could make our own TV channel, KVT TV channel. 

Alexander Maslyakov: Okay, this is, well but something… Some gap…

Vladimir Putin: What’s your name?

Andrei Glinsky: Andrei.

Vladimir Putin: Andrei, you started by saying that young, strong and talented people are present here. Give us this and give us that, where will you unleash your talent?

Alexander Maslyakov: This is not a request, just an idea for consideration. Who would give us a channel?! Why don’t we just talk about it.

Vladimir Putin: Listen, first, millions of people like KVN, love KVN, play KVN themselves… I said five million, Mr Maslyakov said ten million. You realise that this is a market, a strong market.  You simply need to understand how to sell your product. Modern communications provide many opportunities to do this for almost no money. At first you need to distribute it on the internet, then enter into contracts with channels. There is not a lot of normal, or good content on many TV channels, and they often have nothing to show. Where do they get this crap which is often shown on TV? They buy cheap products from the western markets just to fill the gaps in airtime. And if you have a “spicy” product like KVN, you need to create a situation where everybody runs to you, looks for you, asking you to sell them the exclusive rights.

Alexander Maslyakov: And if we had a special channel, then we’d have a great time.

Vladimir Putin: You would not actually. You would direct all your efforts to the channel. Moreover, television is transitioning to a digital format. What’s that? There will be a host of channels, dozens, hundreds of new channels coming. All of them need to be filled with content. And that’s why what you said is absolutely possible and feasible.

Alexander Maslyakov: Please.

Vladimir Vdovichenko (Director of KVN Programmes): Andrei just formulated this issue this way… The current situation, Mr Putin, you are actually the first person to help with real action, KVN gets a home; this is a very important event, for KVN members to have their own home…  That’s why we are tipping our hat to you, because you are the only person who has done so much for KVN. It’s true, no flattery. Thank you.

Alexander Maslyakov: Maslyakov Jr. is hinting that, in fact, for 25 years KVN was treated like, we have it and that’s fine, some people play hopscotch, some skip rope, and these people fool around, joke. Thank you, really, thank you, Mr Sobyanin. Any more questions? I’m hurrying everybody because I know you don’t have too much time.

This is last year’s champion, captain of the Juice team from Samara. He and Dima Shpenkov, also a champion, are young editors in Major League. I hope you will ask a serious question, will you?

Dmitry Kolchin: Definitely. Since we are talking about real issues, it would be a sin not to use this opportunity to ask another real question. Dima and I have a request, a proposal; I don’t know how you will assess it. Mr Maslyakov already said that this year is the 51st season, a host of young teams... And not just young teams, but teams who are making big progress at KVN, the big KVN shown on TV. We would like to ask you to do one thing that has never happened in the history of KVN – wish them luck. On camera. If…

Vladimir Putin: I think everybody wishes you luck.

Dmitry Kolchin: Our proposal is quite creative. The thing is that the 51st season is called “To Be Continued,” a name with three dots. And we would like to propose that you… I don’t know, maybe now or maybe you will be able to take part in a promotional, say: “Young teams, I respect all those who are opening the 51st season. I would like to wish you luck, you are on the right track, and on my behalf I would like to add something – to be continued.”

Alexander Maslyakov: You mean we would start our programme with this?

Dmitry Kolchin: Yes, we as editors have to offer some kind of programme introduction.

Vladimir Putin: I am happy to support young talent and would do this with great pleasure. I would like to wish success to those who are starting a very good business not only with KVN but in other fields as well. Good luck!

Alexander Maslyakov: To be continued...

Vladimir Putin: To be continued …

Alexander Maslyakov: I would like to remind you, just for reference, that we have been holding a festival in Sochi for 23 years where all teams show up.

Vladimir Putin: When?

Alexander Maslyakov: In January, each January for 23 years. Sochi must erect a monument in our honour, that there are so many visitors coming during the off-season, but we don’t need this, and if Sochi’s authorities hear about this... Twenty three years straight, and in the last five years and this January, for example, 521 teams from 175 cities of 12 countries were there. This is how we started the season where we chose the people, where young editors and experienced KVN editors from different leagues worked. There was a selection of teams who were part of different leagues: “first,” “premier,” [Premier League], “supreme” [Major League].  What you just asked concerns the “Supreme.” But the way you said it…

Vladimir: Fix, supreme… You cannot fix a supreme penalty in Russia, it has been abolished, you know.

Alexander Maslyakov: Fix to Major League, I beg your pardon. This is KVN slang. Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you. And what about the Olympic facilities, Olympic construction sites, don’t they disturb you?

Alexander Maslyakov: You know it’s funny. During the last festival I was tortured by KVN members about this. They asked me what the situation would be like in January 2014: where we would hold the festival – Sochi will host the Olympic Games at that time. I said: “We’ll hold the festival in Sochi, but what city will be hosting the Olympics is not our concern.” Generally, I put it correctly, I believe.

Vladimir Putin: We will separate these two major international events and put off the beginning of the Olympic Games.

Remark: Seven thousand people came this year. It’ll be easier for Sochi to host the Olympics after it survives our festival.

Vladimir Putin:  I’m sure that this will be a good test of the preparedness of the Olympic facilities to holding competitions.

I wish you all the best, good bye.

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