11 february 2013

Meeting with deputy prime ministers

Transcript of the beginning of the meeting:

Dmitry Medvedev: Here are a few issues to get this meeting moving. I will begin with heating and electricity. The winter is not over yet. Winter is usually a time for problems, and this winter is no exception. The reasons usually stem from violations of industrial safety rules, neglect, mismanagement and of course, the considerable age of the heating and electricity equipment in quite a few regions. I know that Mr Dvorkovich (Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich) has been to Tyva, where the largest heat and power plant accident this season happened in December. As a result, a whole village was cut off from energy, and the situation was dramatic because it happened at a time of severe cold weather. This was handled by the Emergency Ministry, the power suppliers and the housing and utility services. Mr Dvorkovich, you have been there. Can you tell us what things are like now?

Arkady Dvorkovich: Yes, I’ve been in Tyva and to the accident sites in Khovu-Aksy and in Kyzyl. The situation is gradually returning to normal, but it remains tense for now. A few hundred professionals from the Emergency Ministry, power suppliers and the housing and utility sector are working there. I know that Mr Kozak (Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak) spent time to remedy the situation, coordinating the relief efforts and everything else that was necessary there. To date, the majority of houses have been reconnected to the heat supply system.

Dmitry Medvedev: Is this a permanent connection?

Arkady Dvorkovich: Yes, it is mostly permanent. A temporary connection is being used for the houses that cannot be connected to the system permanently. We have seen that some of their piping is rotten with holes in the pipes laid below the surface. You cannot do anything with this in a matter of two or three weeks; rather, this problem will take two or three months. But we will do it, and we have in fact started doing it, but remember that the pipes are rotten. Eleven of the 12 social facilities have been reconnected to the system, and the remaining building, a college, will be reconnected by the end of February. So we do not expect to have any problems with social facilities. The trouble with the permanent system is that nothing will change after all the facilities are connected to it. But it won’t be completely permanent until we finish the construction of a new boiler room.

Dmitry Medvedev: When did they start building it?

Arkady Dvorkovich: Two months ago. The foundation is already in place and steelwork is now underway. All the necessary purchases have been made. We plan to build it by the middle of August, the beginning of the new heating season. There is a problem with water draw-off. This is required both for this boiler and the village. It will cost another 70-80 million roubles and we must resolve this issue at the federal level – the republic simply does not have the money for it. We must make decisions this week or next week at the latest. We’ll discuss this with Mr Kozak and I’m sure we’ll find a solution.

The situation in the republic in general is not so good. We’ll have to make decisions on another three boilers – just like this one. There is a heat power plant in Kyzyl that must be rebuilt and upgraded. The Ministry of Energy must make a decision on that score as well. I have already issued instructions. The ministry is studying this issue and will draft decisions in about a month. In any event, the republic is subsidised in all areas. It almost does not have any funds of its own and we must help it resolve these problems.

Dmitry Medvedev: It does not have any money of its own but people live there… We must put an end to this state of things, because something happens there every year. It's bad that the Government has to deal with all that, with the situation in a specific village. It’s simply a disgrace! We must draft a programme for them and make them carry it out – or else different officials will be punished and dismissed. Otherwise you’ll have to go and screw in valves in the countryside every year.

Now let’s switch to more positive issues – the development of the Far East. In 2009 we introduced a special system of reduced-rate air travel to the European part of the country. In 2009 there were 19 discounted routes. About 160,000 people travelled. Last year there were 33 routes that carried 500,000 people. Subsidies ran into three billion roubles. The programme was designed for young and elderly people, for people with disabilities and those who accompanied them. There is a demand for this programme and it is fairly effective. I think we should continue expanding its parameters. I have signed a resolution on another 10 reduced-fare routes. Mr Dvorkovich (addressing Arkady Dvorkovich), could you please say a few words about the principles of choosing these routes and on those who will be able to use these benefits this year?

Arkady Dvorkovich: As before, this will benefit young people and pensioners (men over 60 and women over 55). The age was reduced to 55 last year and this standard will remain valid this year and beyond. The programme covers people with first group disabilities and their attendants, and also those who accompany handicapped children. This year we have introduced two new principles. First, we decided to link a number of cities with resort towns in the south of Russia. So now there are routes from Yakutsk, Khabarovsk and Norilsk to Anapa, Gelendzhik and Mineralnye Vody. There is demand for these routes and subsidies will help more people improve their health at our resorts. In addition, another two routes will be subsidised – two new flights from Gorno-Altaisk and Kyzyl (the Republic of Tyva), including a direct flight from Kyzyl to Moscow rather than via Krasnoyarsk, which is operating now). This is a major addition that broadens travel opportunities for people in these regions. We expect the number of passengers using discounted fare to approach 600,000.

Dmitry Medvedev: Okay. Let me repeat that this programme is in high demand. It is only important to make sure that all people entitled to benefits should use them. It is also good that the number of reduced-rate routes is increasing. This is good for people.

A few words about one cultural issue – open-air museums. We have more than 100 of them in this country and the shape that they are in varies – some are doing better than others. Emotions run high at some. Nonetheless, we must organise them and upgrade their management, all the more so since in many districts they are the only opportunity to attract tourists and replenish the budget. They require infrastructure, normal conditions for tourists, but we must not forget that it is important to preserve their cultural and natural aspects.

Ms Golodets, do you have any ideas on this score?

Olga Golodets: On Friday we had а large meeting of open-air museum directors. It took place at one of the most famous museums of this kind – Yasnaya Polyana. Representatives of 104 open-air museums discussed the programme for their development. At present, the Ministry of Culture has already prepared a number of amendments to draft laws. They make it possible to combine specific features of their economic management and the need to preserve cultural heritage. At the same time some colleagues suggested setting up a working group to polish up proposals and legal amendments that would  bring this work to a new level, because it is important not only to preserve cultural heritage in open-air museums but also to coordinate this work with the preservation of their nature and landscapes. Legally, this work is not going to be easy. We expect to complete it in a month and a half and make specific proposals.

The next issue we discussed is a completely new challenge that almost all our open-air museums are facing. Our domestic tourism is also growing. The number of visits to some open-air museums is impressive. Take the Arkhangelskoye estate-museum, for one. In 2011 it was visited by about 250,000 people and last year already by 400,000. Many open-air museums, the Tsarskoye Selo palace and park ensemble, cater to more than 2.5 million visitors per year. This creates new requirements for their operation. We spoke about development prospects of primarily infrastructure projects. Rostourism, the Federal Agency for Tourism, has been instructed to prepare a special targeted programme on private-public partnership. The main goal of the programme is to attract investors for building hotels and other infrastructure facilities around protected lands so that families could have a good time in open-air museums.

Dmitry Medvedev: Needless to say, hotels must be built there, but landscape preservation is important, because quite often they are being put right into the centre of an open-air museum.

Olga Golodets: Absolutely.

And the last point that all museum workers consider very important is the need to form a common portal of information services and engage in a continuous exchange of information. Future visitors of open-air museums should be able to find out how to get there and book an excursion so as not to face any inconveniences upon their arrival. The suggested portal will be developed before summer. Rostourism is in charge of this task.

Dmitry Medvedev: Okay. This must be made.

We had an accident in Komi. Mr Dvorkovich (addressing Arkady Dvorkovich), please collect all information and report on what is being done there. What assistance is being rendered to those who are still inside the mine (this work is being carried out there) and what support is being given to the families of those killed. After that please report to me on what proposals have been made.

Thank you.