TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting with Government members

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

(Kremlin.ru – April 26, 2017)

Vladimir Putin held a meeting with Government members to discuss import substitution in industry and agriculture. Other subjects of discussion included preparations for children’s summer holidays, work on the draft law on responsible treatment of animals, and the programme to build or reconstruct village cultural centres.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon colleagues.

Today, we will discuss one of the Government’s most important areas of work of late, import substitution in industry and agriculture.

Just yesterday, as many of you may know, since you either attended the event or saw it in the media, at a meeting on the defence industry, we looked at how import substitution is proceeding in the defence industry.

Today, I propose that we discuss the civilian sectors of the economy. Let me recall that the sudden changes in the global situation and the politically-motivated restrictions that we face highlighted our at times overly high dependence on the import of certain goods and services.

At the same time, a unique window of opportunity has opened for developing a whole range of economic sectors. This is true above all for agriculture, as the market was freed up for local producers, and for machine building and the light industry.

State support for import substitution projects is not unlimited. Our main goal is to stimulate the launch of new projects.

Over the past two years, our transport machine building has covered close to 100 percent of the domestic market. The farm machinery sector is developing rapidly. Locally produced oil and gas machinery now accounts for more than half of the domestic market. Pork consumption has risen overall, but pork imports have decreased by around a third, and poultry imports have halved.

I suggest we discuss the interim results of our import substitution efforts and outline some rational steps we can take to continue towards developing our industry to its fullest potential.

Let me single out a few matters of principle.

Firstly, it is crucial to take consumers’ interests into consideration. Russian goods must be competitive in terms of both price and quality, and should meet world demands and standards. I have spoken about this repeatedly, but want to say again now that import substitution is not an aim into itself.

Rather, we should simply seize this opportunity the current circumstances provide us to help industry regain the skills that were lost and that we need, and build new capacity, especially in the high-tech sectors. This is why we are pursuing import substitution, and not as a goal in itself. It is as simple as that.

We do not have such a goal and never did. Our task is not simply to replace imports with locally made goods, but to build up our companies’ export potential.

Secondly, as we carry out our import substitution plans, we need to preserve a competitive market environment that avoids unjustified preferences or greenhouse conditions for individual market players. We have taken the decision that even in cases where we do give preference to local producers competition must be maintained between the different Russian producers.

Thirdly, we should remember that state support for import substitution projects is not unlimited. Our main goal is to stimulate the launch of new projects, and give them a helping hand during the early phase. Their future success will depend on the responsibility and competent management policies their executives pursue.

I propose that we discuss in detail the implementation of sectorial import substitution plans, look at the results achieved and discuss any problems and issues there may be.

I would like the Industry Minister to speak on this issue, but before giving the floor to Mr Manturov, I would first like to hear from Ms Golodets on preparations for children’s summer holidays. We had many problems in this area in recent years. What is the situation today with preparations for this important period?

Deputy Prime Minister Olga Golodets: Mr President, Mr Prime Minister, yes, we are in the midst of preparations for the summer holiday season.

This year, we plan for 8.2 million children to be involved in organised holidays. Most of them will be making use of special programmes in accordance with the newly approved Federal National Education Standards, and they will benefit from new in-depth educational programmes in various areas.

As you have mentioned, acting on your instructions, we drafted a new normative base for organising summer holidays and amended Law 465. This document established the normative and legal framework for state regulation of children’s leisure and recreation.

The agency fully responsible for coordinating the efforts of all the participants in the summer holiday process is the Education Ministry. In accordance with its current powers and responsibilities, the Education Ministry has taken a number of steps to make children’s holidays interesting and safe.

(Ms Golodets then gave a detailed report on safety matters concerning children’s tourism, road and rail transportation, and training for the accompanying personnel).

Today, the 114,000 people who will be working in the holiday camps and children’s health camps are currently undergoing training under the new professional standards. By June 1, when the season begins, the rest will have gone through the additional training as well and we will have a total of 279,651 people engaged in this sector.

It is also important to speak about education standards. These standards are set by establishments such as Sirius, Artek, Okean, and Smena. These establishments are currently developing unconventional new programmes that will be the yardsticks and models for programmes we will spread across the country.

Today, the holiday camps with their material and technical resources offer educational programmes that truly deserve great attention. These are programmes in such areas as the environment, science and technology, tourism and more.

I hope that our efforts will ensure that the children spend an interesting summer, and we will do everything we can to make their holidays completely safe.

Vladimir Putin: You noted that in St Petersburg I met with the heads of regional parliaments. Some of our colleagues had proposals and concerns to share. I would ask you to work more closely with the regions in this area.

Olga Golodets: We will.

Vladimir Putin: Mr Donskoy, what is the situation with the law on responsible treatment of animals?

Environment and Natural Resources Minister Sergei Donskoy: Acting on your instructions, we have prepared for the second reading the draft law on responsible treatment of animals and the relevant Government draft amendments.

The agreements have gone through the approvals process with all federal agencies and the Presidential Executive Office. State Duma deputies and senators took part in the discussions and the draft amendments were submitted to the State Duma on March 21.

Russian goods must be competitive in terms of both price and quality, and should meet world demands and standards.
I have to say that this draft law has generated great interest. The first few days of public discussion generated more than 1,500 comments, proposals and requests. We tried to ensure the necessary balance in the amendments, carefully regulating the main requirements concerning treatment of animals on the one hand, and people’s safety on the other. We want to ensure humane treatment of animals, which, as we know, feel pain and fear, and we need to protect them from cruel treatment. Essentially, we have established a new system, a new area of legal relations in our country.

Let me say a few words about the draft law itself. Above all, it will regulate public relations concerning the treatment of pets, stray animals, circus and zoo animals, and service animals. The document addresses the task you set of drafting a unified state regulation policy on treatment of animals, and clearly defines and delimits the federal and regional authorities’ powers in this area.

At the federal level, the draft law sets the common principles and requirements for treatment of animals. In particular, this concerns registration of animals, requirements on their care and use, rules for transportation, walking animals, and the humane regulation of the number of stray animals.

This will enable us to organise work in the regions, taking into account local peculiarities within the limits of the set restrictions or on the federal authorities’ approval, and will ensure consistent implementation of state policy in this area, without any excesses in the regions.

In the draft law, we have tried to avoid excessive prohibitions or restrictions for decent, honest citizens. On the contrary, people who take a responsible approach towards their animals and respect the law should have added legal protection. We have decided to set a list of animals prohibited from being kept at home. These include dangerous, predatory and venomous animals that would create public outcry if kept in people’s homes.

We have planned in detail a system of state and public supervision of compliance with the law. The draft law establishes administrative penalties for cruel or irresponsible treatment of animals. In particular, the draft law sets administrative liability for violations of the law.

The draft law also sets out clearly the relevant concepts, which makes it possible to effectively apply criminal liability provisions in cases of cruel treatment of animals. For our part, we believe that the amendments the Government has drafted will make it possible to establish a comprehensive normative and legal base that regulates relations regarding the treatment of animals. Mr President, we ask you to recommend to the State Duma that it pass these government amendments in the second reading and pass the law during the spring session.

Vladimir Putin: Good. We will work with the deputies, and I recommend that you work with the Government as well.

Sergei Donskoy: Yes, we are working with them.

Vladimir Putin: There is another draft law that has caught the public eye in Moscow. I am referring to resettling residents of five-story buildings. According to the Mayor of Moscow, who reported to me on this account, the goal is to improve housing conditions for the people who live in dilapidated housing built in the 1950s.

Of course, this should be done in such a way and with the use of such tools and means so as not to violate the rights of the citizens, primarily, their property rights. All proposals should be implemented on the basis of citizens’ consent to proposed terms and conditions.

Again, nothing may be forced upon people, and citizens’ rights must be respected in full. I ask the Government to pay attention to this and, in consultation with State Duma deputies, to ensure the passage of a law that will secure such rights.

I would like to say right away that I will not sign anything that violates current laws and citizens’ rights. Please see to it that this law is worked through properly and thoroughly, particularly in dialogue with the public.

The implementation of a programme to build and renovate rural cultural centres is another matter that I would like to draw your attention to and discuss. I have already brought it up with the Minister of Culture, Mr Medinsky, so I would like him to say a few words about this.

Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky: Mr President, the subject of the condition and the activities of rural cultural centres is long overdue. Mr Medvedev held the United Russia forum on culture in Omsk, and this issue was the subject of lively debates.

No investments have been made in rural cultural centres in the past few decades, as they turned out to be municipal property. There, too, the policy was that they received whatever funding was leftover, and have always been underfunded.

We tried to take a system-wide approach to this issue. We conducted monitoring and looked at the state of these centres. The old rural cultural centres operated in a simple and straightforward manner. There was a large party meeting room occasionally used for infrequent artistic performances and small rooms for educators, all kinds of classes, and folk art circles.

We looked at the experience of the most advanced regions that have been making an effort in this area, for example, Belgorod, Bashkortostan, and Kaluga developed several standard model cultural centres and added them to the standard documentation register, including with regard to the content of their activities.

We think it very important that cultural centres in large villages should be places where people can go for family recreation, places where the whole family can find civilised leisure and recreation options. This includes a big hall with a large television set, where men can watch hockey together.

Vladimir Putin: Why just men?

Vladimir Medinsky: It is always more interesting together than watching it alone at home.

Vladimir Putin: Of course it is more interesting together, but why only men?

Mr Medvedev, do some educational work with the Government members.

Vladimir Medinsky: For women, there is also a place where they can get together to chat with their friends.

Vladimir Putin: Is there a kitchen there?

Vladimir Medinsky: There is a big library, and a hall for choreography classes, gymnastics and table tennis. There are standardised designs that include a first aid centre at the cultural centre, with a separate entrance, which is very convenient. We have examined some of the best standardised cultural centres and have selected designs.

The next issue is finding the funding, because funds for this were not included in the state programme. We found three sources. The first is money from the programme for supporting rural areas, approximately 300 million rubles a year. This money is managed jointly by the Agriculture and Culture Ministries.

The second source is United Russia, which this year has allocated close to 1.5 billion rubles in targeted funding for modernising and repairing cultural centres.

The third source – we also looked in the budget. We found 1.5 billion for building and renovating cultural centres. This gives us more than 3 billion rubles, which will enable us to build 120-130 new cultural centres from scratch and modernise and upgrade around 30 more.

Mr Medvedev said that we would also try to continue this programme next year and further beyond, in order to gradually resolve this matter. The programme also fits in well with the programme for building big multi-functional cultural centres in small towns, in accordance with your instructions. We are completing this construction.

There will be 40 cultural centres in towns with a population of up to 100,000. This programme links in well with the programme to equip cinemas, because we also have a separate programme to buy modern equipment for local cinemas.

In cases where the town’s size makes it possible, we are building modern cinemas. These were cinemas that stopped working in the early 1990s. By the end of this year, we plan to open 467 cinemas and should bring this up to 1000, with our goal being to bring the cinema back to each district centre. We ask for your support.

Vladimir Putin: That is a great programme. Go ahead, but take into account the comments made here on this kind of measure.
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