Prime Minister Vladimir Putin chaired a meeting of the Russian Government Presidium
Transcript of the beginning of the meeting:
Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen,
Let's start with a quick update. Yesterday the Regional Development Minister informed President Dmitry Medvedev on the progress in adopting a new law concerning veterans.
Today we will adopt two government resolutions on this issue: one increasing funding for the purchase or construction of housing for WWII veterans by 5.6 billion roubles, and another changing the procedure for providing war veterans with housing. Previously, only those who were on the waiting list for housing before March 1, 2005 were entitled to housing under this programme; the change will make all WWII veterans entitled to this privilege.
At this point, I would like to hear from Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov, who will outline the progress of the preparations for the 65th anniversary of the 1945 victory. Mr Ivanov.
Sergei Ivanov: Mr Putin, the preparations for the 65th anniversary of the Victory are going smoothly, under permanent supervision of the Victory Day organizing committee.
The president has approved a detailed list of events related to the occasion, and each region of the Russian Federation has developed its own regional plan based on the national one.
Along with organising the celebrations, we are also concentrating on social support for war veterans, patriotic education of the young and discouraging attempts to falsify history.
The list of events is very long, so allow me to highlight at least the key events included in the plan.
The main events will take place in Moscow, of course, and will include a military parade and ceremonies. The government will soon issue resolutions allowing military jets to fly over Red Square and issuing newly designed, ceremonial uniforms for all servicemen taking part in the parade. The funding has already been set aside in next year's budget.
The Defence Ministry has also receive additional resources to organize celebrations in all Hero Cities and all cities that have received the title of "City of Military Glory". There are many such cities in Russia.
The production of commemorative medals and certificates to verify their authenticity has been financed in full. These medals will be for Russian citizens and all war veterans now living in the CIS.
War veterans will enjoy the right to use all public transport, except taxis, free of charge between May 1 and 9. They will also be entitled to free transit to major cities in Russia and the CIS, such as Minsk, Kiev and Brest. A total of 1 billion roubles have been allocated from the federal budget to the Transport Ministry for this purpose.
Another 10 billion roubles have been approved for a one-time payment for everyone who took part in the war, as well as for individuals enjoying equivalent privileges, such as workers on the home front and prisoners of concentration camps. The numbers break down as follows: 1.313 million roubles will go to those who fought or were disabled in WWII - every one of these people will receive 5,000 roubles. Workers on the home front and prisoners of concentration camps will receive 1,000 roubles each, for a total of 3.572 million roubles.
Housing provision is a very special issue, and probably the most vital one. You have already mentioned the new law the president signed yesterday. We have also approved a package of respective regulatory documents (government resolutions and executive orders) and submitted them for your signature.
Vladimir Putin: I have signed them.
Sergei Ivanov: Thank you.
Back to the figures on providing housing. We have been working hard on this since 2008. In 2008, 8.9 million roubles were allocated for this purpose. That amount was raised significantly in 2009, to 40.2 billion, but this only covered those who signed up before March 1, 2005. I am ready to cite specific figures for that group of veterans: as of December 1, 19,442 veterans have been provided with new flats or better housing than what they had before. We still have until May 1, 2010 to provide the remaining 9,813 people in this group with housing, and that will be it.
In addition to the group I mentioned, the new law stipulates 5.6 billion roubles in addition to the 40.2 billion I mentioned earlier for those veterans who failed to sign up before March 1, 2005. We'll now take them into account and provide housing for them as well.
Another major social support effort will be to raise monthly pensions for war veterans and participants, by an average of 2,138 roubles for veterans and 2,243 for participants in 2010.
The quality of medical, rehabilitation and pharmaceutical services for war veterans will also be improved in 2010.
And lastly, I would like to say that much more is being done to perpetuate the memory of the WWII dead, above all efforts to recover graves at the sites of large battles. Special groups are actively searching for unmarked graves for subsequent reburial.
In addition, you may remember that in 2006 we launched a project to create a modern website for the Defence Ministry archives with data about everyone who perished or is registered as missing during WWII. Work on this database, called Memorial, will be completed in 2010, and anyone will be able to learn what happened to their grandfathers, fathers and other relatives who perished during the war or was reported as missing. We receive many requests regarding this over the Internet.
We are also working jointly with regional authorities to ensure proper maintenance of military graves, monuments and obelisks, both in Russia and abroad.
Our 2009 budget stipulates the allocation of $5 million for the maintenance of military graves outside Russia - in all countries where our men and officers were buried.
Those are the basic events on our programme.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you.
Mr Ivanov spoke about the efforts to help war veterans, but this is only a small part of what we must do for the older generation, which in this case means WWII veterans.
Unfortunately, we see the exact opposite in some former republics of the former Soviet Union.
You know that Georgian authorities have recently demolished a monument to WWII victims in Kutaisi, and more people have died in the process. Our experts believe the monument had some artistic merit, although this is not the point. The point is that this is one more attempt to erase the history of the peoples of the former Soviet Union, including the heroic history, from historical memory.
In this respect I consider it possible to reconstruct this monument in Moscow, once the capital of a united state of the Soviet Union. Thank God, the creator of this monument is still living in Tbilisi, and we could discuss the possibility with our architects. I think the Moscow government should find a proper site for that monument.
I hope the Russian and Georgian public will support this initiative. I am confident that many people in Russia will personally contribute to reconstructing this monument to the Georgians who perished in WWII in Moscow. I am also confident that the Georgian Diaspora will also take a very active part in this undertaking.
Let us address the other issues on our agenda. Mr Shoigu (Sergei Shoigu, Minister of Civil Defence, Emergencies and Disaster Relief), please discuss the resolution to approve fire safety regulations regarding the sale and use of fireworks.
Sergei Shoigu: Mr Putin, acting on your instruction, we have drafted a list of safety requirements for the sale and use of fireworks, intended to regulate the safe use of fireworks that do not require special skills during their sale and use.
In particular, we propose prohibiting the use of fireworks in homes, buildings and commercial property, in areas at risk of fires or explosions, along railroads, oil and gas pipelines and high-voltage power lines, on roofs and balconies, under loggias and other overhanging parts of buildings, in concert halls, stadiums and other athletic buildings, during demonstrations, marches and protests, near buildings that are especially valuable to Russian cultural heritage, cultural and historic monuments, cemeteries and religious sites and, finally, in nature reserves, wildlife sanctuaries and national parks.
This legislation has been prepared and coordinated with all the appropriate ministries and departments. It will be an amendment to the law on fire safety and technical fire safety regulations.
Vladimir Putin: Good. Mr Zhukov (Alexander Zhukov, Deputy Prime Minister), we have discussed the issue of supporting the national associations of disabled people several times, and I have signed relevant decrees. Please comment.
Alexander Zhukov: Mr Putin, the resolution you signed allocates subsidies from the federal budget for government support for national associations of disabled people. These funds may be given to companies founded by these organisations, as well as directly to these organisations to support their main activities.
As much as 350 million roubles ($11.5 million) will be allocated to the Russian Society for the Disabled, 300 million roubles ($9.8 million) to the Russian Society for the Blind, 100 million roubles ($3.3 million) to the Society for the Deaf, and 50 million roubles ($1.6 million) to the Russian Public Organisation for the Disabled Veterans of the Afghan War. In all, we will allocate 800 million roubles ($26.2 million) for this sort of support.
A second resolution is aimed at resolving a number of social problems, including social support for people in difficult situations. In all, 774 million roubles ($25.3 million) will be allocated for these purposes, including 240 million roubles ($7.86 million) to the Likhodei Centre of Rehabilitative Therapy of War Veterans, 100 million roubles ($3.3 million) to the Russian Public Organisation for the Disabled Rehabilitation Centre and 59 million rubbles ($1.9 million) to the Republican School, where the blind are trained for possible employment, and for training seeing eye dogs, as well as to other such projects.
We help these sorts of organisations every year, but these additional allocations will greatly increase assistance to the public organisations for the disabled and their companies.
Vladimir Putin: Good. We are pushing on with our efforts to support the non-financial sectors of the economy. I have signed two resolutions allocating additional funds to Rosatom, specifically 800 million roubles as a property deposit from the Russian Federation and 14.2 million roubles for purchasing necessary assets abroad.
I ask the head of Rosatom to comment on these decisions.
Sergei Kiriyenko: Mr Prime Minister, ladies and gentlemen, these two decisions are critical. Thank you very much for signing these resolutions.
The first one, the appropriation of 800 million roubles, is intended for the Industrial Park near the Federal Nuclear Centre in Sarov. Mr Putin, in accordance with your directive, we are implementing a programme to increase labour productivity in Sarov.
On the one hand, this allows us to use money for state defence contracts to guarantee that we meet our objectives. But on the other hand, this we are obviously losing skilled, qualified personnel.
So the challenge is to provide them with jobs. First of all, a lot of new technologies are developed at the Federal Nuclear Centre that could be marketed. But to become marketable, they must be made available outside the specially protected zone, especially since, in accordance with a government resolution, Russia's most powerful supercomputer centre will be set up in Sarov, which will allow us to create jobs that make use of the computers unused capabilities.
This will require joint investment, and so it will not be funded solely by the government. The federal government will fund construction of the centre's infrastructure, the regional government will finance the construction of roads and transmission lines, and businesses will take on all the risks. In particular, Sistema will build a number of production facilities there, including for the GLONASS system, as was agreed with Deputy Prime Minister Ivanov. This project will also involve the development cutting-edge software.
These 800 million roubles will be used to set up the Industrial Park. The park is expected to create over 3,000 jobs within five years, as well as appropriate commercialisation.
The second resolution relates to acquiring assets abroad, primarily uranium deposits. We reported to you that we have been actively developing deposits in Russia, thus increasing uranium production fivefold.
Market conditions have been very favourable abroad because of the current downturn, with stocks plunging as well as uranium prices falling. This has meant that the price of uranium companies has fallen over tenfold, and we had an opportunity to acquire profitable, relatively cheap assets abroad.
Thanks to your assistance, we recently signed a deal with the Kazakh government, after we received the necessary approval. This is a huge success. We are negotiating similar deals with three more governments, but I am not going to specify with which governments we are negotiating in the presence of journalists.
Mr Prime Minister, I can tell you that this programme will provide us with enough uranium for our programme to develop nuclear power stations in Russia and also give us an opportunity to provide uranium to all our international customers for whom we construct nuclear power stations. During a meeting with you, the Vietnamese prime minister asked whether we could build a station in Vietnam and guarantee fuel supplies for 60 years. This programme to purchase uranium deposits will allow us to provide such guarantees to all our customers.
Vladimir Putin: Good.
Let us start with the issues on our agenda. Today we will discuss 2010 defence spending, which has reached more than 1.17 trillion roubles, 8% more than in 2009.
Defence spending has been increased considerably to support defence companies and related industries. But the most important thing is to accomplish our strategic objective: reforming the Russian Army and the Navy, improving their combat readiness and mobility.
It is obvious that we should not limit ourselves to modernising the existing system: troops should be provided with large quantities of military equipment, not only individual models.
We have held several meetings to discuss the situation in the defence industry lately. We will continue to work on this issue.
But it is clear for now that we should not only increase funding. Funding is, of course, very important, but it cannot not solve all the problems. We must significantly increase the quality of the hardware we produce, improve production chains and provide personnel for the defence industry.
Apart from this, we should develop long-term re-equipment programmes and adjust them to the objectives of the Armed Forces. And within these programmes, the defence industry should approve plans for modernisation, technological development, research and design, and the serial production of military equipment for the Armed Forces.
I suggest that the Government Military-Industrial Commission, the Defence Ministry and other defence institutions concentrate on this in 2010.
Now I would like to focus on one more item on the agenda: developing pyrotechnical safety regulations. The minister has already reported on a decree that was signed today. This is a slightly different issue, but also important.
This concerns the recent tragedy in Perm and the lessons we should learn from it.
Let me remind you that several years ago, new traffic safety regulations were adopted. Some doubted the practicality of these measures, but they actually worked. The number of people killed in car crashes has fallen. These measures helped save thousands of lives.
That is why we are going to amend fire safety regulations and make changes in the Criminal Code and the Administrative Offences Code. I am confident this will help stop those who literally play with fire trying to make some easy money.
Аfter the Perm tragedy and in light of the upcoming holiday of New
Year's Eve, I would like to address all officials, business leaders and
Russian people: be extremely careful using fireworks! Take good care of
yourself, your families and people around you!
I would also like to comment on the two new federal programs. Next year we will launch a federal programme for the Republic of Ingushetia. We are trying to solve the most pressing problems for this Russian region, which entails the construction of new hospitals, kindergartens, school, technical schools, a theatre and a sports complex, as well as providing cities and towns with the sufficient water supply and rebuilding the local infrastructure.
Certainly, these are not tasks that cannot be solved in one year. Yet I am confident that we will achieve positive and considerable results together with the republic's administration. Step by step, we will create the conditions in Ingushetia for people to work and have a good life, bringing the region up to par with Russia's other regions.
The total amount of funding for the program is 32.2 billion roubles, including 29 billion from the federal budget.
Moreover, a new federal target programme has been proposed for modernizing housing and municipal services. Currently, our main policy tools in this sector are the Fund's programmes for rebuilding housing and municipal services, which have proved to be most effective and in demand.
As I have already said publicly, the fund was established by selling assets previously owned by the Yukos Company. We use resources from the Fund to resettle residents living in hazardous housing and repair dilapidated housing.
However, the fund was only established to operate on a temporary basis - until 2012. In addition, the scale of problems in this area is so great that they require additional resources. Along with major renovations of blocks of flats, serious efforts are also needed to refurbish local municipal utilities networks, introduce resource-saving technologies and improve the quality of municipal services. These all are priorities of the aforementioned target program.
Finally, I would like to talk about our plans for developing federal roads. This clearly requires increasing the amount of construction and modernizing the road network already in use. To achieve this, we have to attract business investment in addition to government funding and make use of concessions and other mechanisms for private public partnership.
The state company Rosavtodor, which has been established to meet the aforementioned challenges, will begin operations in 2010. Today we have to approve the company's 6-year period programme. First and foremost, Rosavtodor will take control over the federal routes that require reconstruction and work to increase traffic capacity and traffic safety. I am referring to such major routes as the roads linking Moscow to Minsk, Moscow to Bryansk and the Russian-Ukrainian border, the Don federal highway and the road linking Moscow to St. Petersburg.
Let's get down to business.