TRANSCRIPT: Vladimir Putin made a working trip to Chelyabinsk Region

File Photo of Russian MI-26 Helicopter in Afghanistan with MI-17 Helicopter In Background

(Kremlin.ru – December 5, 2016)

The President toured the Makeyev State Rocket Centre in Miass, where he held a meeting on the centre’s activity.

Vladimir Putin took part in the launch of a new production line at the Eterno Plant in Chelyabinsk, which produces advanced components for pipe systems using nanotechnology.

The Eterno Plant is a joint project of the Chelyabinsk Pipe-Rolling Plant (ChelPipe) and RUSNANO designed to meet the needs of oil and gas companies and pipeline operators. The plant was launched in late 2015 and manufactured over 1,500 tonnes of produce in the first three quarters of 2016.

The President learned about the plant’s activity and examined the RUSNANO project exhibition.

The head of state also met with workers of the Eterno Plant.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon,

I understand you all work here. Naturally, many of those employed in the sector will envy you. The company has been successfully operating for a year now, gathering momentum, improving quality and developing new products. Essentially, this is a very serious step forward in the development of the metallurgical industry. Well done. I wish you success.

Let us begin.

Alfred Minev: Mr President, we are happy to welcome you to our Externo plant. My name is Alfred Aminev. I am the production director at the plant.

I started my professional career at the ChelPipe company’s Vysota 239 workshop, manufacturing large-diameter pipe, and I remember very well how you put it into operation and were introduced to our white metallurgy products. At the time you described it as a Disneyland. Could you share your impressions of the new manufacturing facility, the new Eterno plant?

Vladimir Putin: I believe I have just spoken about that. I have the best possible impressions. Your managers told me what has been done and what you plan to do in the future. This is exactly what white metallurgy should do.

We have been talking a great deal about import substitution, and quite often recently, not because we want to substitute for everything but because this is beneficial for the country. This creates new jobs and high-tech production facilities, increases tax revenues at all levels of the tax system, and so on, and also enhances expertise. So you have taken this wonderful step forward. I hope it is not the last one.

Denis Prikhodko: Mr President, my name is Denis Prikhodko. I am the head of ChelPipe’s commercial service. Before my colleagues start showering you with questions, I would like to say a few words of gratitude. The fact is that several years ago, our company, with your direct support, received state guarantees that made it possible for us to continue our development and implement new investment projects, one of which you are seeing today.

We sincerely hope that we have justified the great trust that was put in us and that this project will reaffirm that. However, we would like to note that we are in talks with our creditors regarding the early repayment of our obligations and therefore the early return of state guarantees.

So, on behalf of our working collective of many thousands, I would like to express our gratitude to you. Thank you very much for the contribution to our company’s development.

Vladimir Putin: I know that you want both to return the guarantee and to repay the loan early. Banks are not always pleased with the early repayment of loans because they make money on interest. However, as one of your executives said just now, an agreement has apparently been reached with Sberbank, so I understand Sberbank has no reason to refuse early repayment.

Regarding the guarantee, we do this more or less automatically. As for the fact that the company is ready to return guarantees – strictly speaking, not even guarantees, but money, indicates that you are doing a good job.

Excellent.

Dmitry Zhuromsky: My name is Dmitry Zhuromsky. I head ChelPipe’s investment department.

Mr President, we know that you have come here by helicopter.

Vladimir Putin: That was not hard to guess.

Dmitry Zhuromsky: Yes, we could hear the chopper. The blade spars for Mi-26, the world’s largest military transport helicopter, are made at this plant, actually in the shop next door.

It so happened that we developed the production of blade spars concurrently with the development of helicopter manufacturing in the country. Mr President, can we hope that this sector will continue to develop dynamically?

Vladimir Putin: Of course, you can. Frankly speaking, I did not know that you make blade spars. I will tell you why this is so important. You have probably heard that we have held trials of a helicopter that can fly at a speed of some 400 kilometres an hour. How can it fly so fast? Because it has novel blades and materials, and this is the main innovation. This is why your plant is so important.

As for helicopter manufacturing in general, the holding company Russian Helicopters has been growing quite well. I believe that over the past four years it has doubled its net revenue and increased its net profit by 80 percent, if memory serves. The holding company keeps growing.

You have mentioned the Mi-26 helicopter. Yes, it is the world’s most powerful military transport helicopter. We are now working with our Chinese partner to build a similar, though smaller, helicopter. Its payload will be 15 tonnes, less than the 20 tonnes the Mi-26 can carry. We are also working on other new products. We have always been the market leader in the medium and super-heavy classes, but we have also created good light helicopters, including Ansat and Ka-226T.

I have flown in both, and I loved it. There were some hitches, but I would describe them as insignificant and besides, we have smoothed them over. These helicopters are really great. I am sure that we will have big domestic and export contracts for them, especially for Ka-226T. It is a very good light multifunction helicopter.

It has a coaxial main rotor system and can be used equally well on the sea, because it can withstand side winds, and in the mountains, for the same reason. We have talked about this helicopter with our Indian friends, who are planning to buy these helicopters for the army and for possible use in the mountain terrain.

One more new helicopter, Mi-38, is a big helicopter that can carry cargo and passengers. When a delegation from an Arab country saw it and looked at its characteristics, they told me – I am not joking now – they said, “We are buying it right now. If you sell, we will buy.” Because it is a really good product of world class; our rivals have nothing of the kind. I hope very much that more of such equipment will be produced soon.

Dmitry Zhuromsky: Thank you.

Alexander Lopan: I am Alexander Lopan, head of the regional sales department at Eterno.

Mr President, for the past few months ChelPipe has been supplying large-diameter pipes to Nord Stream 2. We all watch TV, and we can hear our Western partners speaking about suspending the project, which means the loss of future contracts and jobs for us. How do you see the future of this project? Will any other infrastructure projects be launched in the near future?

Vladimir Putin: You know, a project to deliver natural gas to Germany was proposed back in the Soviet era. I think it was called the “gas for pipes” project. German companies supplied the pipes, while we launched gas deliveries. It was back in the 1960s, and the project had very many opponents.

The West German government was pressured by its main ally then, yet it decided to implement this project. For decades afterwards, the Soviet Union and later Russia has supplied huge volumes of natural gas to Europe. Actually, we did not disrupt deliveries a single time. When gas deliveries were suspended in 2008 and 2009, it was not through our fault but because the transit state failed to ensure safe transit for our gas. I am not going to go into detail now.

When we started building Nord Stream 1, there was much speculation. I was surprised to learn that there were many opponents of this project in Germany itself. It is strange, because Germany decided to abandon nuclear generation plans then, which produced over 40 percent – I think it was 44 percent – of electricity. I could be wrong, but it was definitely over 40 percent. When you abandon nuclear generation, you need to have a replacement. What could it be? This is why natural gas, which is the lowest-impact primary source of energy, is in great demand in Germany and in the European market as a whole.

Is there any other reason for optimism regarding this project? Yes, it is the fact that demand will keep growing, including in Europe, whereas production is falling. Gas production is down in Britain, which is becoming a net importer, and in other countries. But it is growing in Russia. We have huge natural gas reserves of the global, yes global, scale. We have enough gas for ourselves, even considering the growing requirements of the Russian economy, and for our counteragents, the buyers of our gas.

Few people know this, because it is not said publicly, but Gazprom is supplying more gas to Europe than Russia or the Soviet Union ever did – over 600 million cubic metres a day. This is more than the Soviet Union ever supplied. And it is the best proof of the demand for this product.

As for the project’s opponents, they are influenced by political considerations. You have probably heard about the absolutely unsubstantiated idea that those who buy our gas become dependent on Russia. A foolish argument, because it is a case of interdependence.

If our clients become dependent on the seller, then we – the seller – become dependent on the buyer, because pipeline gas is supplied to a specific customer. Therefore, we depend on them. Simply put, we believe that everyone – the seller, the transit country and the buyer – should shoulder an equal share of responsibility.

I will not go into detail now, because it is a separate and very big subject, but it is clear to us. The countries that could provide transit are opposed to Nord Stream, because this pipeline will run along the bottom of the Baltic Sea, bypassing possible transit countries. Had we built the pipeline on land, these countries would have benefited from transit fees.

Alexander Shchuchkin: I am Alexander Shchuchkin, head of the industrial automation service at the Eterno plant.

Mr President, Russia has opted for self-reliant economic development based on its national potential. The Eterno personnel wholeheartedly support this approach and are working hard to produce quality output.

We are also glad that the biggest state-owned companies, which are the main buyers of our products, have decided to buy Russian-made products. We have not been marking time; we intend to emerge on new markets, produce new goods and find new buyers.

Maybe a decision should be taken like in the defence industry, when foreign purchases are not allowed in cases where there are Russian analogues. What do you think?

Vladimir Putin: First, the main idea of import substitution is to develop the domestic economic foundation, restructure the economy and transition to a knowledge-based economy. All of this is true. However, we have never thought, and should not think, about developing our economy in isolation from the global economy.

The Russian economy is an integral part of the global economy and should develop as such. However, we can regain our competitiveness and competencies in certain sectors. For example, one such segment, the first that comes to mind, is aircraft manufacturing.

We can certainly do this, because we have the experience and skilled personnel, and we can do well not just in combat but also in civilian aircraft, and there are many other sectors where we can do this. But overall, the Russian economy cannot develop in isolation from the global economy. I believe this is obvious.

You have mentioned the defence industry, which is good, because it is a very sensitive sector where we must be independent. There are goods that nobody will sell to us, or will agree to sell and then create problems at the exact moment when we need the goods on which we depend.

This is why we have compiled an extensive plan for the defence industry. Decisions, including Government decisions, stipulate that state acquisitions must focus primarily on domestic producers, and there is also a direct ban on buying certain equipment abroad if we have Russian analogues.

I must say that this does not only concern the defence industry; it also applies to other products made for civilian purposes. I think the new rule should become effective starting January 1, 2017. Such procedures will be introduced not only for public procurement, but also for procurement at companies co-owned by the state. This should certainly expand the opportunities and markets for Russian manufacturers.

In any case, we must work to ensure that Russian-made civilian products successfully compete on the market, even outmatching their competition- something your business can do and is doing now. Only in this case can we be sure that we will develop actively.

Anton Loskutov: Mr President, my name is Anton Loskutov, and I am the chief of the Zhelezny Ozon electric-furnace melting shop.

I often hear media reports about accidents in the housing and utilities sector. Ice-cold water or steaming-hot water hit the streets, bringing a lot of trouble to people. Unfortunately, there have been casualties. The reasons for these failures are pipes – the used or reconditioned pipes widely used in the construction of piping systems, including public utilities. Do you think it is possible to legislatively ban the use of such pipes for these purposes?

Vladimir Putin: It is banned as far as I know. Used pipes cannot be installed in water supply systems. Sometimes it is a crime. People cheat, using second-hand products under the guise of new ones. It is certainly better to move in this direction, especially to gain markets. This is simply about money.

We are not replacing pipes fast enough: I believe new water disposal pipes only cover 0.5 percent of the demand, and water supply pipes – 1 percent. That is it. Certainly not enough. The problem is the funding of this sector. We need to create a competitive market environment there. If that happens, and I think it should happen, then your company’s produce will be in greater demand.

Vladimir Osadchy: Mr President, I am Vladimir Osadchy, a science and technology consultant at the Chelyabinsk Pipe-Rolling Plant (ChelPipe). I am a Doctor of Engineering and Professor, member of the International Informatization Academy, which is an Associated Member of the UN, and a recipient of the State Prize and the Mil Prize, which I treasure, as well as an honorary worker of higher education and a merited worker of science and technology.

Mr President, you were to receive a book that was released to celebrate the former plant director, Yakov Osadchy. If you have not received it, you will get it now or very soon afterwards.

Vladimir Putin: They are handing me this book as you speak.

Vladimir Osadchy: Do you see how quickly the plant’s management can act?

Vladimir Putin: Yes, I see.

Vladimir Osadchy: The book includes the history of the plant, its development and achievements. It used to be the world’s largest plant and one of the best in terms of technology and production standards.

You can see in the plant’s new shops and from the management’s activities that we are keeping these traditions alive. It is very important to maintain and enhance the achievements of our predecessors.

The meeting held to celebrate the plant’s anniversary was very impressive. It was attended by veteran workers and members of the public, who had an opportunity to talk to the plant’s managers, and by students of South Ural State University who will work at the plant. Everyone was satisfied with the meeting, both veteran workers and young people. It was a rare combination of experience and young talent, something we must have at the plant.

Personnel policy has always been a priority in the country, the region, the city and the plant. In the past few years, we switched to bachelor’s degree programmes for training engineers. You know that there is a shortage of engineers at many plants. Therefore, I hope that you and the country pay more attention to training engineers.

For 45 years, I have been head of the Department of Metal Pressure Treatment. We have trained over 3,000 production engineers who have made great achievements. Many have obtained PhD and DSc degrees. I personally trained eight DSc and 71 PhD holders, 12 of whom worked or are still working at this plant. I think this is our core asset that develops new innovative technology. Therefore, please make sure we have good engineering training in the future, or else we will have no engineers at plants in 25 years.

Vladimir Putin: Mr Osadchy, you are absolutely right, and we are already making the necessary efforts. Moreover, I am particularly pleased that lately these training programmes have attracted significantly more young people and there is competition for engineering programmes at many universities and generally in the field of engineering. This training definitely deserves more attention.

You mentioned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Of course, many people here want students to fit in the international practice and international trends in education. Why? So that graduates of Russian universities have more opportunities to work wherever they want, in any country, and so that foreign professionals come to work here with qualifications that we understand.

At the same time, we must not forget or lose all the positive aspects of our education system created in the past. We have indeed had a positive practice that contributed greatly to both our science and actual production. So you are right, and we will continue to do this, absolutely.

Vladimir Osadchy: Especially because engineering training in our country has existed for over a hundred years. This means schools, traditions, schools at institutes and plants – everywhere. I am very pleased with you answer, and I hope it will go as you say.

Vladimir Putin: In some countries, engineering is a highly prestigious occupation. In Italy, for example, ‘engineer’ is an honorific, which means it is indeed a very important job, especially now. There were times when everybody wanted to be a lawyer. (I am a lawyer myself but not because it was trendy.)

In the 1990s, everybody wanted to become lawyers and economists, but now people are realising that, firstly, there are prestigious jobs at, say, large enterprises like this plant, and there are more and more enterprises like this in many areas, with advanced equipment and machinery. This requires proper training of both shop floor workers and engineers.

Anna Polyakova Anna Polyakova, ChelPipe Group Education Centre.

Mr President,

You may have noticed many young people in the audience. They are students and graduates of the corporate educational programme titled, “The Future of White Metallurgy.” Our company’s performance depends on the quality of employee training, which is why we are implementing a dual model of vocational training in conjunction with a state college. Over the five years the programme has been in place, we have trained over 400 skilled young professionals. The company has assumed responsibility for providing hands-on training, which accounts for 60 percent of the training curriculum.

What do you think about codifying at the legislative level the dual system of vocational training, so that industrial enterprises could train employees specifically for their production needs?

Vladimir Putin: You are doing it already, and you are doing so openly. Why? Because there is a law on education, which clearly stipulates that educational institutions can create their departments in other entities to train employees, which is what you are doing. I think that this is a promising and important area of work, especially in the manufacturing industry.

Training employees for the sake of training, who then can’t land a job and, most importantly, lack the proper skill set, is a very costly and inefficient approach. Conversely, what you are doing enjoys demand and is important.

This, of course, should be done in conjunction with manufacturing enterprises, like you are doing now. We maintain a dialogue with the business community as well. If there’s anything that needs to be adjusted, we will go ahead and do so.

Alexei Shcherbakov: Mr President, my name is Alexei Shcherbakov. I started my career at the Chelyabinsk Tube-Rolling Plant, when the Vysota-239 shop was being built, following which I was invited to a joint project launched by our plant and RUSNANO for the construction of the Eterno plant, where I’m currently working as head of the finishing shop.

Today many are talking about enhancing the prestige of workers. Back in Soviet times, there were films such as Vysota, Devchata, Vesna na Zarechnoy Ulitse, and every boy wanted to become a factory worker. All they do now is make films about police and gangsters.

Mr President, do you think we will ever get the chance to see a film about a simple working guy, preferably, a metallurgy worker in this day and age?

Vladimir Putin: I would love to. You know, this sphere of our lives, I mean films and TV series, has become overly commercial. Everyone wants to run commercials on their channels. To be able to run the commercials you need to have an audience. The audience of the channels is counted, and a television company gets paid for running ads depending on the audience. I am giving you a general idea of how it works. Therefore, all they show is gangsters and police. That’s all there is to it.

But this is where government funding can play a positive role. Of course, the state should support those who are willing and able to use their talents to write or produce something exceptional, which would attract audiences and show who is most important in our country. Working people are always most important. Always. The future of our country across all industries rests on their shoulders. Of course, such things are important, I agree with you.

Alexei Shcherbakov: We will pin our hopes on government funding then.

Vladimir Putin: We will.

Alexei Shcherbakov: Thank you.

Alexei Trofimov: Hello, Mr President.

My name is Alexei Trofimov. I am a fourth-year student, and I am also taking a training course to become a rolling machine operator. Frankly speaking, I do not always have enough time for my studies and work, to say nothing about my personal life.

Vladimir Putin: You get everyone worried: such a good-looking young man, and he does not have enough time. How come?

Alexei Trofimov: Well, how do you manage to get everything done? And what is your secret to staying in shape?

Vladimir Putin: How do you know I do?

Alexei Trofimov: By the look of you.

Vladimir Putin: You see, I noticed a long time ago, and I believe you also know but are simply too shy to say so yet: the more you do, the more things you can do within a given amount time. Especially if you organise your work schedule really well. Believe me, that is the way it is.

Of course, everything is good in moderation, or you can get lost in the details and miss the main thing, something that is more important. However, on the whole, this is a general rule: the more you do, the more you manage to do. You should simply focus on your work. I am convinced that this will work for you as well.

As for your personal life, you must attend to it without fail. Get married, have children.

Alexei Trofimov: After the army.

Vladimir Putin: When are you going to be drafted?

Alexei Trofimov: In the spring, into a military unit affiliated with our company.

Vladimir Putin: An affiliated military unit. It is not far from you, is it?

Alexei Trofimov: It is nearby.

Vladimir Putin: As far as I know, your company was closely involved in helping organise service and living conditions in that unit. First, young men do military service there in line with their specialty, and the company also helped the Defence Ministry to provide very comfortable conditions for service personnel. I believe this is very good, very useful and interesting. This is very good experience. More good experience, which should be promoted across the country.

All the very best to you.

Alexei Trofimov: Thank you very much.

Vadim Mantrov: My name is Vadim Mantrov. I am the foreman at the Chelyabinsk Pipe-Rolling Plant’s main manufacturing facility. I have been with the company since 1992.

Mr President, sometimes it so happens in the process of production modernisation and optimisation that people my age – 50 years and older – fall by the wayside. These are efficient, good specialists but it is difficult for them to compete with young employees who have been trained according to new standards.

Vladimir Putin: With bachelor’s degrees.

Vadim Mantrov: With bachelor’s degrees. Our company runs successful retraining programmes at corporate training centres. I would like to ask you a question on this point. Are there plans to develop a state retraining and employment programme for specialists who, let’s say, are not so young?

Vladimir Putin: You know, we have a lot of retraining programmes. I won’t bother to list them all now. This is primarily the responsibility of companies themselves, with support from the state. To reiterate, we have standard retraining programmes in various fields.

Regarding actual production, as a general rule, these are private companies, and state companies, companies with state participation also have their own programmes. In the social sector, of course, the state plays the leading role – I am referring to retraining programmes for doctors, teachers and so on. As for your company, I believe, on the whole, the work here is well organised. Or have you encountered some difficulties?

However, the question is indeed important, very important. In today’s world, when the pace of development is generally very high, a person has to study continuously to be employable. Strictly speaking, this is a general rule: one has to study all his life and that is especially important in the sphere of real production so as not to lose quality expertise.

Stanislav Belov: Mr President, my name is Stanislav Belov. I am deputy head of a production department – the Vysota-239 workshop.

Mr President, I have a young daughter. When she flips through the channels in search of cartoons she looks at programmes and asks me questions. Recently she asked me: “Dad, who is Putin?” How would you explain to a little child what the President is?

Vladimir Putin: He is a person who works to make you happy. This is what he works and lives for.

Irina Skorina: My name is Irina Skorina. I am the lead engineer at the chief production engineer’s office.

Mr President, I hold a degree in environmental studies. Although I was born, brought up and educated in Moscow, I chose Chelyabinsk and the Chelyabinsk Pipe-Rolling Plant (CPRP), a successful, dynamic company, which, as you know, has adopted a White Metallurgy production system. Everything is clean, nice and environmentally friendly here.

Vladimir Putin: I can see that.

Irina Skorina: And also safe. Eterno is not an exception.

Vladimir Putin: Still, how did you wind up here?

Irina Skorina: I was attracted by this company. I have been with CPRP Group for over a year now, and this is my first year at the CPRP.

Vladimir Putin: And you left Moscow?

Irina Skorina: Yes, I did.

Vladimir Putin: Good for you.

Irina Skorina: I believe this is a very interesting place to start a professional career.

Vladimir Putin: That is true.

You know, this is a very telling and important thing. Our so-called labour mobility is very low. That is to say, people are reluctant to move from places where they have settled down, let alone from Moscow. Just try getting anyone to move from Moscow. You did the right thing because you are fulfilling yourself as a specialist here. You would hardly be able to work in Moscow as you do in Chelyabinsk. There is simply no such production capacity there.

Irina Skorina: Yes, this experience is very valuable. I agree with you.

And here is my question. How do you think an industrial enterprise can be incentivised at the state level to reduce its environmental footprint?

Vladimir Putin: We declared next year the Year of the Environment not because this year or the year after next the environment can be ignored, but to get everyone – the state, society, civic organisations, the Government, the regional authorities – involved in this problem, the environmental problem. It is extremely important. Everything depends on it: above all, life and health and, of course, the future of the country.

However, in industrially developed areas such as [the city of] Chelyabinsk, the Chelyabinsk Region and the Urals in general, unfortunately, there are a lot of environmental problems, as you know very well. They are related, above all, to air emissions. There are not many companies like yours. Their number is growing, but still, we have a great deal of equipment that has been in use for decades, and the emissions are quite heavy.

Such issues cannot be resolved overnight, at one fell swoop. It is essential to gradually replace the fleet and incentivise companies and industry to use modern technologies, the best available technology. Russia has such a programme and it is beginning to work, and I hope very much that it will produce the required effect. I believe it will be launched in 2017.

We delayed it – I say this with regret – because amid crisis-related processes, there was a danger that tough demands on industry today or tomorrow could simply lead to the closure of certain enterprises, which is especially dangerous in a crisis. Nevertheless, the programme will kick off now. It contains a wide range of incentives that should – and I hope that this will in fact be the case – encourage enterprises to apply advanced technology that will reduce their environmental footprint. Still, that will take time – years.

Today, work in this sphere is being conducted with each enterprise separately, and every enterprise that can prove that it is unable to operate differently is granted permission for extra emissions. By the way, as far as I know, all enterprises in Chelyabinsk that have received these permissions have declared ahead of time that they have reduced their emissions to the minimum normative level. But, of course, there are great many enterprises there. So until the system I have mentioned, the system that encourages enterprises to use modern technology, produces a tangible effect, it is necessary to change approaches towards working with industry in a systematic way.

What do I mean? Right now, as I said, each enterprise is dealt with separately and emission permits are granted, including for extra emissions. I believe it would be more appropriate if regional authorities – and these issues should be regulated at the regional level – proceed not from the needs of a concrete enterprise but from the situation in a region as a whole.

Permissions to concrete enterprises should be granted depending on their overall problems and the way they are addressed. I believe we should move along these two lines – both incentivise enterprises to adopt new technology and switch to a new risk assessment system.

Lyubov Drachinina: My name is Lyubov Drachinina. I am the head of the labour protection and industrial safety service.

Mr President, we have this rule at Eterno: Every day every employee and every executive must take an alcohol test, and this is a mandatory requirement.

Vladimir Putin: Do you want to test me? I have not had a drink today yet.

Lyubov Drachinina: You will probably be the first person that we will not subject to an alcohol text.

Also, smoking is banned at the Chelyabinsk Pipe-Rolling Plant as a whole, not only at Eterno. We have a gym with all the most modern equipment at Eterno. In other words, this is the way our managers get us to maintain a sound mind. So it would be very interesting to know how a healthy lifestyle is maintained in the Government or the Presidential Executive Office.

Vladimir Putin: I do not smoke, so I do not see anyone smoke near me. There is only one smoker in the Government that no one can persuade to give up smoking. It is Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak. He smokes like a chimney, constantly. This is an unhealthy habit. It is great, very good that your company tries to promote the principles of a healthy lifestyle. I am convinced that those who regularly go to the gym understand all the advantages of keeping fit. Movement, as you know – this is such a hackneyed phrase – but movement is life, and this is in fact the case.

I believe so far these issues are not handled as effectively in the Government and the Executive Office as at your company. Perhaps alcohol tests should also be introduced in the Government and the Executive Office. That would certainly do no harm.

Maria Tyrtova: My name is Maria Tyrtova. This year I completed the Future of White Metallurgy programme cum laude and right now I am an intern production engineer.

Older people often criticise young people for allegedly reading too little and being poorly educated. This definitely does not apply to our students. We have a large library at our training centre where you can simply go to a shelf, pick a book you like and even take it home. Mr President, what book would you advise us to read and why?

Vladimir Putin: Look here, older people, as you said, have always complained about young people, and not only now as you claim. It has always been like this, and I think it will always be so for a number of very diverse reasons. In fact, I have had many occasions to see that we have very proactive and success-oriented young people, who make their own lives based on these considerations, and very many of them are patriotically minded. You know, I do not want to cite examples from the wartime again, but there are very many such examples from that period. Our young people are what young people should be, which is why I do not grumble.

As for books, I believe I spoke about this in my Address last year or the year before last; I said that we should compile a list of a hundred [required reading] books. Our professionals have prepared this list; it includes mostly but not only classical literature – I believe there are also a few modern books. These books should be accepted for required reading as the first step to better learning.

By the way, you may have heard that we recently met with cultural figures in St Petersburg, and Mosfilm director Karen Shakhnazarov complained that our people have little desire to read. Indeed, the Soviet Union was considered the most well-read country in the world, but the number of people who like to read has decreased considerably, which is an alarming sign.

Karen Shakhnazarov said that printed books are being replaced with modern gadgets, computers and the like. I don’t think this is bad. What we need to do is to fill modern gadgets with quality contents that will be interesting, beautiful and contain deep thoughts, something that is probably lacking now.

However, it is a fact that our people want to learn, that they read books and electronic media to receive the information they require. On the other hand, the reading choice is very important. So, let’s start with a hundred books and see what happens next.

Artem Rogozinnikov: Mr President, I am Artem Rogozinnikov, one more graduate of the Future of White Metallurgy project.

Mr President, I have a dream. I dream of building my career at this plant. And so my question is, do you have a dream?

Vladimir Putin: I want my career to have a good ending.

Mikhail Mikhelson: I am Mikhail Mikhelson, the supervisor of the spares warehouse at the department of Eterno’s chief engineer.

Mr President, I know that you have very many diverse hobbies. You practice judo and sambo, ski and play hockey. I also know that you love books and play the piano.

Vladimir Putin: The latter is an exaggeration.

Mikhail Mikhelson: No, you do play the piano – we have heard you do it. I know that you care for animals and do a great deal to protect them. Is there anything you have never done but would like to try? Or a hobby you would like to take up?

Vladimir Putin: Yes, there is, but I won’t tell you.

In principle, I love travelling. But all my travels are now limited to driving to an airport, flying somewhere and then back to the airport, and this is it, the trip is over. I would like to travel differently, to enjoy the nature or see historical monuments.

I have recently been to Peru. What did I see there? An airport, a building, and back to Moscow. Yet there are many things worth seeing in Peru. It is a unique, an absolutely unique country with very many interesting sights. Traveling is a fascinating pastime, instructive and entertaining. I wish you to travel whenever you have time. Just lock up your warehouse and go somewhere. It is a joke, of course.

Remark: Mr President, thank you for coming. Would you mind posing for a photograph?

Vladimir Putin: So many photographs have been taken already. Well, let’s pose for one more.

I wish you all the best and success in life and in your work.

[featured image is file photo]