8 september, 2011 18:00  

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin receives people at the public reception room of the United Russia chairman in Vladivostok. The reception was attended by First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov



Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon. Hello, what’s your name? (addressing a boy).

Boy: Daniil.

Vladimir Putin: What brings you here, Daniil? Do you have any questions?

Boy: Fine.

Vladimir Putin: Everything is fine?

Boy: Yes.

Vladimir Putin: Okay, fine then, let’s give your mom and dad a chance to speak.

Elvira Protsenko: Mr Putin, our problem is as follows: there are five nurseries owned by the Defence Ministry in Vladivostok. They are all located almost along the Golden Horn Bay. One of them is in the village of Lazurnoye, the other four in Vladivostok. According to your instruction, and the presidential decree on the transfer of ownership of real estate owned by the Defence Ministry to municipal authorities, the decision was made on March 10, 2011, to complete this transfer by June 1, 2011. The nursery officials informed us that it would not have any negative impact on us, because the issue merely had to do with changing the name and status of the nursery, and the children would retain their places. But after the repairs were completed, they told us that employees there had been notified of impending job cuts, and that the nursery would not open until August 23. So we started asking questions and they told us that there had been no final decision on ownership transfer or financing arrangements – no clear decision whatsoever. They then told us that the nursery may well be altogether… In other words, two nurseries would be given to the city, and the other three would be closed, because they are unsuitable for use as a preschool institution and are considered illiquid property.

We are closely following your movement around Russia, and one of your transcripts talks about how former nursery buildings that are now being used for administrative purposes should be re-instated as nurseries. But in our case, they are about to literally throw us out of already existing nurseries. And please note that the nursery is set up wonderfully. The only problem is that these nurseries are located on the ground floors of blocks of flats. Nursery No. 12 is in the village of Lazurnoye on a remote military settlement, in a separate building, as is Moryachok, Nursery No 72. Mr Ozerov will show it to you on a map; it’s also in the vicinity of the Golden Horn, at 80B Svetlanskaya Street, also in a separate old building that is not in very good conditions.One of our kindergartens is located on Kalinin Street and another on Svetlanskaya Street. The latter is conveniently located between the Avangard and Lazo stops, at 108b Svetlanskaya.

Vasily Ozerov: This kindergarten (the one that is located in a separate building) is totally dilapidated, and is going to be transferred to the city. The second kindergarten, which is located in the military community in the area of Shamora Bay, will also be transferred to the city. The three kindergartens around Golden Horn Bay will not be transferred to the city. The Defence Ministry’s Property Department maintains that these kindergartens are unsuitable, because they are located in residential buildings. Meanwhile, the city’s administration invited representatives from Rospotrebnadzor (Federal Service for Supervision of Consumer Protection and Welfare) to review the situation, and they issued a written statement saying that these kindergartens are completely fit for operation. Both the city and the territory are ready to take them, invest the necessary expenses and launch them. No action is being taken on the three kindergartens that are being eliminated, nor on two that are being transferred to the city because the Defence Ministry cannot provide the city with the documents needed for their elimination or transfer.

Vladimir Putin: I think there are two problems. The first has to do with the existing rules – after all, children need to have some space to walk around, and so forth. If a kindergarten is located on the ground floor of a residential building, they wouldn't have this opportunity. This allows the Defence Ministry to say that kindergartens do not meet standards, even though they have existed there up until now…

Vasily Ozerov: For 50 years.

Vladimir Putin: Yes, and have met these standards until now.

Elvira Protsenko: Absolutely.

Vladimir Putin: This is the first point. Secondly, as far as I can tell, these kindergartens are very well equipped. Considering the shortage of preschool institutions, shutting them down seems completely impractical.

I’ve just spoken with the defence minister, the commander of the military district and Igor Shuvalov about the need to expand housing construction for officers in Patrokl Bay and elsewhere. I spoke about this in the past, this issue was somehow forgotten. Snegovaya Pad is an excellent site for housing construction, but we need to have another look at the local ammunition depots. I’m told that everything is removed now, but let’s take one more look.

As we just agreed, housing construction will be carried out in Patrokl Bay – for officers of the Pacific Fleet and perhaps for the commanders of the military district in general. This gives up the opportunity to make an agreement with the defence ministry on the complete transfer of special institutions to municipal ownership. They will do this in the near future. The kindergartens will be preserved and later, when the city and the territory will help these institutions relocate to more suitable locations, these premises may be sold. I’m almost certain that the problem lies in the fact that the defence ministry simply does not want to lose these areas.

Vasily Ozerov: Absolutely, Mr Putin. Pardon me for repeating this, but they are located on central motorways. This makes them commercially attractive but we're talking about something different. All three kindergartens (they each occupy the entire ground floor) have a completely separate exit and their own playground areas. They do not interfere with the space of the buildings in any way. As I said, they are appealing for other reasons. We both understand what these are.

Elvira Protsenko: Excuse me, please. The problem is that after we started taking action on the issue of these kindergartens, a decision was made to continue funding them until October 1 of this year, when our teachers’ personnel chart expires. Where will we go on October 1? We were offered a kindergarten in Snegovaya Pad but even buses do not run on time along this route. With our Vladivostok roads and winters, not every parent can make it out there.

Vladimir Putin: I understand, they won’t go there.

Vasily Ozerov: This is our region and they offer us Snegovaya Pad.

Vladimir Putin: Yes, I understand.

Elvira Protsenko: It's just – excuse me for interrupting, but we need to receive a concrete answer before October 1. Are we going to stay there, and if not, then where will we go?

Vladimir Putin: You won’t get a more meaningful answer than you’ve received now.

Elvira Protsenko: I agree.

Vladimir Putin: So, let's consider the matter settled.

Elvira Protsenko: Okay, thank you.

Vladimir Putin: We will guarantee the interests of the defence ministry as well. Nobody there was planning to snatch up these premises. They were most likely thinking about using these premises as housing for officers. But we’ll take the next step in this direction. As I’ve already said, we have agreed on this. We won’t simply complete the construction of housing in Snegovaya Pad and develop its infrastructure – we'll also allocate sites in Parokl Bay for housing construction for officers.

Elvira Protsenko: Good.

Vladimir Putin: I think we’ll set things right with these small sites.

Elvira Protsenko: Thank you very much.

Vasily Ozerov: Thank you very much, Mr Putin.

Vladimir Putin: Mr Shuvalov, please look into this issue.

Igor Shuvalov: We’ll take care of it.

Vladimir Putin: And take a look at these premises. Those that have already been transferred and are in poor condition and need to be put in order. We’ll speak with the governor now. Please, make a note of this as well.

Igor Shuvalov: I’ve marked it down.

Vladimir Putin: Two buildings, correct?

Elvira Protsenko: Yes.

Vladimir Putin: In a state of dire disrepair?

Vasily Ozerov: Yes. This building (it is marked in red; this is the one that is being transferred to the city) is about to break down, and these three are slated for destruction.

Elvira Protsenko: Excuse me, please, but despite the fact that they are in such poor shape, the city mayor is prepared to accept kindergartens in any condition and to look into the possibility of restoring them.

Vasily Ozerov: I will once again submit the conclusion of Rospotrebnadzor…

Vladimir Putin: About these premises being suitable for use?

Vasily Ozerov: Precisely. I will also submit a letter from the Defence Ministry’s Property Department, in which they mention these three kindergartens and cite the reasons for their decision.

Vladimir Putin: We're agreed, then.

Vasily Ozerov: Thank you very much.

Elvira Protsenko: Many thanks.

Vladimir Putin: And Danila will attend it, right?

Vasily Ozerov: Of course.

Elvira Protsenko: Certainly.

Vasily Ozerov: That’s all, then. Good bye.

Elvira Protsenko: Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: Good bye. Take care.

Georgy Samburov: Good afternoon.

Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon. Please, go ahead. What is your name?

Georgy Samburov: My name is Georgy Samburov. I chair the Association of Farms of the Primorye Territory. We have sent an application to the Popular Front. I’m a member of its Coordinating Council and have taken part in all of the front’s activities since the formation of the council.

Vladimir Putin: How many members does your association have?

Georgy Samburov: We consist of 32 farms.

Vladimir Putin: That’s a lot. What do you grow?

Georgy Samburov: What do we grow? Me? Oh, do you mean the Primorye Territory in general?

Vladimir Putin: No, I mean the farms in your association.

Georgy Samburov: They grow grain, vegetables and even berries. They also raise pigs.

Vladimir Putin: How is your harvest this year?

Georgy Samburov: This year my harvest… I didn’t plant much, I just have five hectares of potatoes, but I’ll harvest 120 tonnes of potatoes. Even though it has been a rainy year, there were still days that were favourable for a good harvest.

Vladimir Putin: I hear you even grow grapes here.

Georgy Samburov: Yes, we do have grapes here. I have had a lot of Alyoshenka grapes, as well as Alfa, which is our local grape.

Vladimir Putin: You grew the grapes?

Georgy Samburov: Yes.

Vladimir Putin: And did they ripen?

Georgy Samburov: Yes, of course. The Wilder grape – a Californian grape – ripens, and we use it to make wine, as does our local grape, Alfa.

Vladimir Putin: Haven’t you brought some wine with you?

Georgy Samburov: Wine? We do have wine, Mr Putin, and we would be happy if you came to visit.

I am a chairman, and I also have a farm. I breed pigs and goats. Two years ago, I wanted to start a farm to produce baby food, but I was unable to come to an agreement with our banks, who wanted to extend the period too far. I wanted to start a farm with 1,000 goats to produce yoghurt and baby food.

Vladimir Putin: A thousand goats is a fairly big farm.

Georgy Samburov: It is.

Vladimir Putin: Did you want to take a loan?

Georgy Samburov: Yes.

Vladimir Putin: How much?

Georgy Samburov: As much as they would be willing to give. You see, first of all, my age…

Vladimir Putin: How big of a loan would you need for a thousand goats?

Georgy Samburov: I would need to borrow 50-52 million roubles.

Vladimir Putin: For how long?

Georgy Samburov: For at least ten years.

Vladimir Putin: A ten-year loan?

Georgy Samburov: Yes.

Vladimir Putin: Fifty million roubles. And what interest rate were you hoping to receive?

Georgy Samburov: The minimal rate.

Vladimir Putin: But what would be acceptable for you? What rate would be economically feasible?

Georgy Samburov: 10%–12% at the most.

Vladimir Putin: And the rate here must be around 14%-15%, is that right?

Georgy Samburov: In Rosselkhozbank it is 14.5%, but this year they have already offered 12%.

Vladimir Putin: This is already suitable.

Georgy Samburov: It is.

Vladimir Putin: I will talk to Patrushev once again (Dmitry Patrushev, chairman of the board of Rosselkhozbank).

Georgy Samburov: I’d like to bring up another important issue having to do with the technical overhaul of farms. At the conference in Tambov you brought up the initiative to overhaul farms. Our farmers very much welcomed this initiative. Here, in the Primorye Territory, we have 984 private farms and 47,000 household plots that are directly engaged in agricultural production. This speaks to the fact that ours is a strong agricultural region. This overhaul is necessary. Rosselkhozbank posted 6,000 pieces of agricultural equipment on its website, but Primorye only received two tractors.

Vladimir Putin: Perhaps this was because there are a lot at warehouses here.

Georgy Samburov: There were just two tractors… As a result, farmers are indignant that they missed out on the possibility for a real and inexpensive overhaul. We contacted Rosagroleasing with our requests, and then went to other regions. Some of our neighbouring regions find themselves in a similar situation: they did not receive the equipment they were supposed to either. I calculated that if all northern regions are supplied with equipment – and ours is a normal agricultural region – we should have received 90-100 machines out of the 6,000. But two tractors is nothing.

Vladimir Putin: Yes.

Georgy Samburov: So I would like to request that you set up a commission that answers to you personally, and to look into why Rosagroleasing did not properly abide by the orders on providing equipment to farms. We could have improved our crop yield, and our farms could have grown quickly. The most important thing is personal initiative, right? So I would like to know what happened to the equipment that rightfully belongs to the farmers of the Primorye Territory, and why.

Vladimir Putin: I see. Mr Samburov, do you still want to expand your enterprise with a goat farm?

Georgy Samburov: I do. I have four children (they work with us) and five grandchildren, and we produce our own wine and goat cheese. We even produce goat butter, which is very good for facial masks.

Vladimir Putin: I see. We can offer you a joint venture. We will provide you with a loan, and you will supply us with milk.

Georgy Samburov: We will.

Vladimir Putin: We will definitely talk to the bank. Mr Shuvalov will work on it. And it will be on normal commercial terms.

Georgy Samburov: Naturally.

Vladimir Putin: All the more so, since they are now lowering the rate to 12%, as you said – but this is a separate topic. As for Rosagroleasing – as you know, we have allocated an additional 13 billion roubles for drought relief. This was, of course, primarily for the central regions of the country, where the drought was severe, but the decision on selling equipment at half price through Rosagroleasing certainly concerned entire Russia, including its Far East, particularly Primorye. I think the reason for the situation you described was that there was nothing left in storage at the warehouses here.

Georgy Samburov: There was nothing. Just two tractors.

Vladimir Putin: There were just two tractors. But I know how this equipment is being distributed. Not all of it has been distributed yet. Rosagroleasing has about 750-780 items which still haven’t been sold. Under the existing rules, other regions of Russia can also claim them. You do not have to claim only the equipment that was stored here, in the Primorye Territory. So we will just give an order to Rosagroleasing. Can you tell me what kinds of equipment you need?

Georgy Samburov: We mainly need wheeled equipment, specifically MTZ tractors. They are the most suitable for small farms and household plots.

Vladimir Putin: Then it is settled. We will definitely work with Rosagroleasing. But you, Mr Samburov, should then submit an application on what you would like to get. We will talk to them and have them send you the necessary equipment. But it is also necessary to ensure the shipment, because I don’t know where and in which regions the equipment you need is now. After all, shipments to the Far East are fairly expensive. We would have to resolve the issue with subsidised shipments for farmers.

Georgy Samburov: Mr Putin, I listened to your report in Smolensk on the use of federal land… We have a similar situation in the Shkotovsky District of the Primorye Territory. The Shkotovsky District has 15,500 farmland plots on which are situated three military state farms – Romanovsky, Mnogoudobensky and Rechitsky. They were shut down, and the land is now vacant. It is currently overgrown with shrubs. Part of this land is used by farmers. When the state farms were shut down, farmers were given the land for temporary use; and they continue using it, but without any right. These villages are fairly prosperous, and most local people used to work for these farms. Many of them now want to start individual farms.

Vladimir Putin: But they cannot get the land, right?

Georgy Samburov: They cannot get the land. Plus there is land that was allocated for housing… Military garrisons were transferred to municipalities, but land was not, and they have not been able to formalise it. Our legislature has sent a letter, and I myself have sent two letters to the president on behalf of the territory and of the Shkotovsky District. We got simple answers in return… (hands over the letters). Here are the letters and the answers.

Vladimir Putin: Well, the secretariat must have issued a formal answer.

Georgy Samburov: Yes, the secretariat wrote that it had been handed over to the Armed Forces committee of the Ministry of Defence.

Vladimir Putin: We will look into it. We have recently talked to the Minister of Defence. On the contrary, he is looking for ways to transfer such lands into reliable hands so that they could be used. These are all bureaucratic obstacles, as always, but there are few good prospects. We will definitely go back to it and see what can be done.

Georgy Samburov: Thank you very much.

Vladimir Putin: But we need a request from you. How can we get it?

Georgy Samburov: We will submit a request.

Vladimir Putin: Submit it to the office here.

Igor Shuvalov: I will still be here tomorrow.

Vladimir Putin: Then you can come here tomorrow and meet with Mr Shuvalov.

Georgy Samburov: Goodbye.

Vladimir Putin: Goodbye and good luck.

Good afternoon. What is your name?

Yelena Poltarobatko: Good afternoon. I am Yelena Poltarobatko.

Vladimir Putin: Go on, please.

Yelena Poltarobatko: I am a representative of Ussuriisk and I have been delegated here with a question about the future. We highly appreciate the government’s efforts related to going over to digital television, notably, that they have started from the Far East and that we are joining common information space, which expands our opportunities. However, we would like to ask you to let us include our local news and sports blocks in the central television broadcasts. For instance, there is a television and radio centre Telemix in Ussuriisk. They cannot buy this content or these programmes themselves. We would like to see the government take care of this part of our life, too.

Vladimir Putin: Are you related to the media in any way?

Yelena Poltarobatko: Yes, I am. I am retired, but I’m now with the press service and…

Vladimir Putin: Press service of what?

Yelena Poltarobatko: Administration.

Vladimir Putin: Administration of the territory or the region?

Yelena Poltarobatko: No, Ussuriisk municipal district.

Vladimir Putin: Ah, the city. I see.

Yelena Poltarobatko: That’s why I realise how important this is,and also I see things from the perspective as a regular resident. I’m here as an Ussuriisk resident, not as someone from press service.

Vladimir Putin: You know that the digital television programme started out in the Far East and Primorye. Unfortunately, we have lost the satellite lately that was part of this programme. But we’ll catch up, no big deal. Luckily, the satellite was insured. We will certainly press ahead with the programme. It is designed for implementation by 2015, and by that time thousands of new TV broadcasting centres should be built across Russia. These multiplexes provide for the opportunity to use regional channels.

Yelena Poltarobatko: Is it free of charge?

Vladimir Putin: Yes, looks like it is. At least, this can be implemented in the Far East next year already.  We will keep in mind that Ussuriisk needs it badly. I promise that Ussuriisk will be connected to this package next year (not sure about this year, as it is drawing to an end).

Yelena Poltarobatko: Thank you. One more thing. This Saturday is our city’s 145th anniversary. First, we would like to give you this book, because it… It’s our history dating back to Bohai State and the foundation of the Nikolsk-Ussuriisky settlement; it includes all the major milestones. And Ussuriisk will be honoured if you would sign this book.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much.

Igor Shuvalov: I wrote it down, Mr Putin, regarding…

Vladimir Putin: Include this package into the multiplex.

Igor Shuvalov: We are about to look into this issue at the meeting of the government commission next week. We’ll look into both multiplexes and their content, including the local one.

Vladimir Putin: The central issue lies in the capabilities of federal channels to show local news.

Yelena Poltarobatko: Yes. We are now working with TC-Tsentr, our network partner.

Vladimir Putin: Next week, right?

Igor Shuvalov: In two weeks.

Vladimir Putin: In two weeks. Don’t forget about Ussuriisk.

Igor Shuvalov: Done deal, Mr Putin.

Yelena Poltarobatko: Thank you much, Mr Putin.

Igor Shuvalov: Especially since you told us to make the decision and perform the connection in 2012.

Yelena Poltarobatko: Thank you. Don’t forget about Vladivostok and our small towns like Arsenyev or Lesozavodsk.

Vladimir Putin: By no means.

Yelena Poltarobatko: Thank you much. Please come see us.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you. Goodbye. All the best.

Yelena Poltorabatko: Goodbye.

Dmitry Grigorovich (chairman of the territorial Council of War, Labour, Armed Forces and Law Enforcement Veterans): Good afternoon, Mr Putin.

Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon. What’s your name?

Dmitry Grigorovich: Dmitry Grigorovich. Mr Putin, I represent the territorial veteran organisation, the largest one in the Primorye Territory. I was instructed by chairmen of the Far Eastern Federal District veteran organisations to raise the following question: Last year, when you addressed veterans in Novo-Ogaryovo, you touched upon several deep-rooted, veteran-related problems. One of them was the establishment of a ministry for veteran affairs. You have opted for a slightly different solution. I think I can agree with it. We agree that advisory boards are a really effective form of work. Such a board was set up under the government. However, speaking in Novo-Ogaryovo you said that such boards will be set up across regions, cities and municipalities. Could you please include the recommendation to establish such boards in the resolution that you signed? You know, this will be a great help to us; we have our fair share of problems, and we really need it. And thank you for rousing society… We were one of the first to join the Russian Popular Front in the Primorye Territory, and we are now actively working within it. We have our ideas and plans, and we are promoting them both on the federal and regional levels. And this is one of the issues we raised… If you do this, it will solve our problems. That's all I have to say, Mr Putin.

Vladimir Putin: Mr Shuvalov, please draft amendments to the government resolution.

Igor Shuvalov: All right.

Vladimir Putin: All right, we'll take care of this. I think this is justified. Overall, we have quite a broad network of veteran organisations in the country, and as far as I understand, the administration and the staffs of the president’s plenipotentiaries cooperate with veterans. But if you think there will be a demand for this additional channel, then of course we will do it.

Dmitry Grigorovich: These issues are brought up everywhere, and they have been raised here as well. It will support us. Though we do not have any questions for the governor of the Primorye Territory at present. We are working with the authorities and they are working with us. I would put it this way: it is a fruitful cooperation and we are trying to resolve the existing problems of veterans. So we do not have any questions. Though veterans themselves have a lot of concerns but these concerns existed in the Soviet era and in the market economy. Perhaps the elderly would have these same concerns even under Communism -- there is no way around this. Because this is a category that…

Vladimir Putin: We will draft this addendum, and I am certain that our colleagues in the regions will respond to it.

Dmitry Grigorovich: Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: Are veterans doing well overall?

Dmitry Grigorovich: Well… What do you mean by “well”?

Vladimir Putin: How do you resolve housing issues?

Dmitry Grigorovich: Housing issues are being addressed very smoothly, especially for war veterans. I'll give you an example. Our first list went up until 2005…

Vladimir Putin: Till March 1?

Dmitry Grigorovich: Yes, until March 1. Here is just one example: there were 320 veterans on the waiting list, and 80% of them had been on it for over 20 years. Can you imagine? And they simply could not get housing. And then in an instant, in one year they received housing, and now there are 1,200 more on the list. Everything is fine, it is proceeding in accordance with the financing from the Ministry of Regional Development. This issue, at least, is being resolved positively, and we don’t have any questions today.

Vladimir Putin: So people are receiving housing?

Dmitry Grigorovich: Of course they are, and they are very grateful.

Vladimir Putin: And what about medical services, Mr Grigorovich?

Dmitry Grigorovich: As for medical services, I would say that we have interruptions in the supply of medication, which happens when tenders are announced. Otherwise, a lot has been done recently for veterans, notably, for the 65th anniversary of the Victory.

Vladimir Putin: Do pharmacies stock medications now?

Dmitry Grigorovich: We resolve these issues quickly, at least. Even though…

Vladimir Putin: Do people listen to you when there are problems?

Dmitry Grigorovich: Yes, we make ourselves heard. We communicate. We understand that when there are tenders… We understand the situation.

Vladimir Putin: At any rate, it is the duty of the local authorities to ensure an uninterrupted supply. These are their problems and they need to resolve them. But I am glad to hear that you can turn to them if there are problems.

Dmitry Grigorovich: Definitely -- they listen to us, they understand…

Vladimir Putin: What about inpatient and outpatient clinics? Are they organised well? Are there provisions for veterans?

Dmitry Grigorovich: We have, for example, a hospital for war and labour veterans. It is the only such hospital in the Far East.

Vladimir Putin: Is it functioning?

Dmitry Grigorovich: It is. I should say directly that the only problem with this hospital (there are no problems with the food, or the medications, or the services) is that there are some wards that are made to accommodate five or six people. So the issue has been raised about expanding the hospital, so that in all wards there will be no more than two patients. We have brought up this issue, and it seems that Mr Darkin (the Primorye Territory governor) has agreed to consider it.

Vladimir Putin: We will consider it, as part of the programme for healthcare modernisation, together with the territory’s authorities…

Dmitry Grigorovich: Of course. It is the only such hospital in the Far East, in the entire Federal District. This would be excellent, Mr Putin.

Vladimir Putin: Perhaps, together with the territory authorities…

Igor Shuvalov: Okay. I will speak with Ms Golikova (Tatyana Golikova), then.

Vladimir Putin: Talk to her and to Mr Darkin. We will split the work in half with the territory.

Dmitry Grigorovich: Thank you, Mr Putin, thank you very much!

Vladimir Putin: Good bye.

Good afternoon. Please, have a seat. There's a whole delegation here! Go ahead. I'm sorry, please tell me your name once again.

Georgy Martynov: Georgy Martynov.

Lyudmila Talabayeva: Lyudmila Talabayeva.

Fyodor Vuglikov: Fyodor …

Vladimir Putin: What organisation do you represent?

Lyudmila Talabayeva: We are fishermen.

Vladimir Putin: And what problems do fishermen have today?

Georgy Martynov: Thanks to you, Mr Putin, there are fewer and fewer problems in the fishing industry.

Vladimir Putin: Tell me, please, what do you do in the industry?

Georgy Martynov: I am the president of the Primorye Association of Fishing Companies, the head of a public organisation.

Vladimir Putin: Great, then you know this better than anyone. Of the decisions that were made during my last visit – do you remember? – concerning entering territorial waters, reloading, declaring, what has been resolved and what do you think still needs to be addressed? I don’t know what issues you have come with, but this is what I'm interested in.

Georgy Martynov: This is a very interesting question for us, as Ms Talabayeva is the head of a large port structure, through which all fish from the Far East are delivered to the central regions of Russia.

Lyudmila Talabayeva: Up to 60%.

Georgy Martynov: When you met fishermen on board the motorship Archer here in Vladivostok in 2004 – I think it was on June 23, -- a number of important decisions were made. The most important for us were the Federal Law On Fishing and Preservation of Biological Water Resources (No.166), along with quotas that were supposed to be assigned to fishermen based on the historical principle, initially for five years, and now for ten. That is, we have a law (the rules of the game), and we can be certain that no one is going to take these quotas away from us tomorrow. This is the most important thing.

As for the requirement that fishing vessels stop here, we set two tasks for ourselves. The first one is to reduce illegal fishing, because when a ship docks at a port, it has to declare its cargo. Unfortunately, this has not solved the problem of domestic market  saturation and the problem of cargo turnover at our ports. Our port infrastructure is becoming extremely outdated, because all refrigerators were built 30, 40, 50 and 60 years ago. And considering that the cranes and elevators operate in a corrosive environment, that is, on the seashore… Everything is quite old, and the ports are forced to sit idle for half a year. And only during the salmon fishing season…

Vladimir Putin: So why do they stand idle?

Georgy Martynov: Because all fish products are exported.

Vladimir Putin: But we have decided to adopt a series of measures to ensure that these products reach this shore. Are you saying that in your opinion, nothing has changed in this respect?

Lyudmila Talabayeva: Nothing has changed for the port - that is, products that are exported are declared at the border and they do not enter the port unless border guards have some questions about them. We are processing just the same amount as before. We work only during salmon season. The seaport cannery that I manage processes up to 60% of the entire Far Eastern catch. The company is huge. We process about 400,000 tonnes of fish we get directly from the boats, and our total output is twice that. But now, the canneries only have jobs during the salmon season.

Vladimir Putin: I see. What else should we do to ensure a normal amount?

Lyudmila Talabayeva: Mr Putin, we have always insisted on terms for the Russian fishing fleet that would make it feasible to call at Russian ports.

Vladimir Putin: I know it. We are making a package of relevant decisions now. Our colleague said that there are some positive ideas. What else can we do to increase feasibility?

Georgy Martynov: Our association has considered this problem, and we are proposing a measure that might work. This is how it is. When the fishermen sell their catch abroad, they pay a 5% export duty, and that’s all there is to it. When we bring it home and sell it in Russia, we pay a VAT of 18%, though VAT makes up just a small part of overall tax revenues. In Primorye, it accounts for 3%-5% of all taxes paid by the fishing industry, if I am not mistaken. Why not exempt at least the first catch from VAT? A ship owner who sells, say, a 2,000 tonne catch should not pay the VAT. This is no time to even talk about increasing export tax rates because…

Vladimir Putin: Please take notice, Mr Shuvalov. The matter demands a comprehensive approach. We should calculate the costs of bringing the catch to shore and then returning to the high sea. Possibly, we should adopt a simplified taxation system envisaging just one tax, including a part of the present VAT.

Lyudmila Talabayeva: We should calculate all logistics. Mr Putin, there’s another disturbing trend. I know what I’m talking about – I’ve been in the industry for thirty years. Salmon has traditionally sold very badly in the past. In particular, China did not purchase pink salmon. Now, to the contrary, it is buying 100,000 tonnes this year alone. We are afraid we will eventually have no fish to process at all. We used to deal mainly with Alaskan pollack. Salmon, herring, Pacific saury – those were just an addition. Now, we don’t get any pollack at all, and we are afraid that Chinese traders will buy up the raw salmon, and our port canneries will come to a standstill.

Vladimir Putin: Where will the Chinese buy their fish?

Lyudmila Talabayeva: They either buy it directly from the boats or at Russian ports. When they buy it at Russian ports, our canneries have something to process, but they purchase large amounts at sea. That’s a dangerous trend to us.

Vladimir Putin: So you support your colleagues’ proposal to cut tax rates to promote the industry?

Lyudmila Talabayeva: Yes, I am a member of the Primorye Fishing Industry Association, and we have discussed the problem with industry leaders.

Vladimir Putin: But do you realise that everyone must have equal opportunities?

Lyudmila Talabayeva: Of course we do.

Vladimir Putin: I mean all who work on shore and at sea, and our entire nation. But certainly, we can’t tolerate  conditions for fishermen that make exports more profitable than domestic sales.

Georgy Martynov: As an aside, the demographic situation directly depends on seafood consumption. Take Japan: per capita fish consumption there is about 68 kilograms a year – and they have a great life expectancy there. The same can be said about Norway.

Vladimir Putin: But the Japanese birth rate is below ours.

Georgy Martynov: Possibly. I don’t mean that there’s a direct dependency. Possibly, I am painting the picture blacker than it is.

Vladimir Putin: They have tremendous problems with their birth rate, so maybe we shouldn’t switch entirely to a fish diet. We need balanced nutrition. Take the farmer who spoke before you – he raises pigs and goats. Well, enough of this. I just wondered about your opinion of what has been done because you represent the fishing industry, which is one of the leading economic sectors in Primorye.

Georgy Martynov: Really much has been done.

Vladimir Putin: Have you settled your problems with the border guards?

Georgy Martynov: Yes. After you reprimanded the border guard service chief in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, he visited our association in Moscow with all his deputies, and answered our questions for three and a half hours. I attended the meeting, so I know. Some progress has been made since. Thank you very much for your intervention.

Vladimir Putin: I didn’t exactly reprimand him. After all, the men were not biased against you – just tired of their tedious routine. They were overworked, and it never occurred to them that things could be done in a different way. When we met and discussed our problems openly, they began to see reason.

Georgy Martynov: We solved some problems because…

Vladimir Putin: A law on fishing was passed.

Georgy Martynov: This law is satisfactory, on the whole. But, now that you mention it, there is an absurd problem with research. In the past, scientists were assigned fishing quotas. The Pacific Fishing Research Centre (TINRO), the Pacific Institute and other research establishments caught as much fish as they needed for observation, and they sold the catch after their studies. As the new law has it, if a fish or a crab dies during the tests and I cannot set it free, I have to throw it away.

Vladimir Putin: Mr Martynov, I do not have the final say here but please take a closer look at the matter: the state appoints research quotas to study the possibilities and opportunities to protect marine wildlife – not for pseudo-scientists to arrange commercial fishing.

Georgy Martynov: That’s right.

Vladimir Putin: And research purposes do not require a large catch. If we authorise researchers to sell their catch, they will compete with you in the market or work in an environment barred from competition on the basis of their privileges.

Georgy Martynov: They will be paid for marine wildlife.

Vladimir Putin: You fishermen will be unable to compete with them. That’s surely not what you want. If the job is to be aboveboard, we have to acknowledge that the practice of commercial fishing under the guise of research was all wrong. As for the question of how to better organise the fishing industry, and how to give motivation to Russian fishermen working for their own country, you are quite right to ask them. Mr Shuvalov pointed it all down, and we will certainly work at it. I’ll send the relevant instructions to the Finance Ministry. It is very particular about VAT but we shouldn’t stick to it – we should regard this fiscal issue within the context of a specific industry. Our agriculture has unified…

Georgy Martynov: …unified taxation.

Vladimir Putin: We should think it over. After all, it wasn’t for nothing that the fishing industry was subordinate to the Ministry of Agriculture.

Georgy Martynov: It isn’t any longer.

Vladimir Putin: We’ll think it over, okay?

Georgy Martynov: Yes, thank you.

Vladimir Putin: What else do you want to ask?

Georgy Martynov: Fishermen were among the first to join the Popular Front. I am a member of its regional coordination council as the president of the industrial fishing association. We made proposals for the joint programme, particularly concerning VAT and shipbuilding. We made nominations for the State Duma and the [regional] legislative assembly. But strange things started to happen as soon as the national primaries began.

Vladimir Putin: You mean the straw ballot?

Georgy Martynov: Mr Putin, thank you for this wording. I also don’t like primaries. Many have objections – a great many.

Vladimir Putin: You mean the ballot or the name?

Georgy Martynov: The name.

Vladimir Putin: Why use it, then?

Georgy Martynov: I fully agree. As a member of the regional council, I was authorised to bring 80 people to one of the platforms. We did that. There’s no hiding anything from the public. The people counted all those present. They said they would vote for our common nominee. Then something went wrong when the votes were counted. Our electors came to me as they knew that I was going to see you at this reception. They asked me to hand their letter to you. All the 80 people signed it.

Vladimir Putin: And what was the number of electors?

Georgy Martynov: Eighty.

Vladimir Putin: So there were 80, you say?

Georgy Martynov: Yes, 80 local electors.

Vladimir Putin: I see.

Georgy Martynov: The people sat it out. The thing lasted hours. The people listened and counted, and said: “Something’s wrong! We know who we voted for.”

Vladimir Putin: Were there 192, total?

Georgy Martynov: Yes, I think. That’s only one of the many facts. They said to me: “Listen, if the final ballot is arranged like this, we won’t bother going to the polling station, and don’t bother asking us to.”

Vladimir Putin: They were right.

Georgy Martynov: It all made us sit up and take notice. We have video footage here. Can I show it – it’s quite short?

Vladimir Putin: Do please.

A video is shown.

Vladimir Putin: Who are all these people? I see Mr Akhoyan here…

Georgy Martynov: Galust Akhoyan is No. 1 on our list. He is a member of the Primorye territorial legislative assembly, where he heads the budget committee.

Vladimir Putin: Is he a fishing expert?

Georgy Martynov: No, he’s a doctor by profession, as far as I know.

Fyodor Vuglikov: Mr Putin, the association appointed me to the counting board, and I confirm that similar things were done in our constituency. When the final protocol was drawn up, the figures were corrected in favour of a particular candidate.

Georgy Martynov: That was why Mr Vuglikov refused to sign the protocol.

Fyodor Vuglikov: And the people there… More than half of the electors were fishermen who know me. How could I face them if I signed such a protocol? So I refused.

Vladimir Putin: So you, a counting board member, refused to sign the protocol? Know what I think about it all? I think that everything that’s going on is very good, however surprising that might sound. I mean I can’t say that I approve of someone who signed some protocols. It’s good that you have noticed these things. It’s good that we are introducing such patterns of electing the worthiest. It’s good that we notice these things, and we have the opportunity to set things straight. A very nice woman said that nothing can be checked because the rules forbid it. Why on earth do we need such rules? What we need are rules that promote the careers of worthy people, trusted and respected by their colleagues and neighbours. What I have seen is very good because it gives us the chance to improve things, set them right and improve the pattern for the future.In that case we can make a very simple decision. The current normative legal base of United Russia allows me, as the party’s chairman, to annul these results.

Georgy Martynov:  Both in Artyom and Nakhodka?

Vladimir Putin: We’ll look into this and consult our colleagues. We may cancel them at disputed sites and compile these lists together with you and other colleagues in a  fair and suitable way.

Lyudmila Talabayeva: Mr Putin, there is another alarming trend. After the association joined the Popular Front and named its candidates, the territory’s authorities changed their behavior negatively with the association’s council. The supervising deputy governor responded very promptly. He urgently convened a meeting of the council (I attended it as a member of the council) and all fishery managers said unanimously that as soon as the association had joined the front and named its candidates, they felt an escalation of tensions with the authorities. They don’t need this. They all said this and for this reason we’d like, of course, to...  

Vladimir Putin: We’ll work with the local authorities to make sure there is no discrimination. You will understand that, sad as it is, these are featherbeds and nobody wants to leave them. But we won’t forget those who are working well and have a good reputation. In any case, as I’ve said, new people who enjoy the confidence of their work collectives must occupy these positions. We will consistently work to make this happen.

Georgy Martynov: Mr Putin, can I quote a personal example? During the primaries our fishing community nominated me as a candidate to the Legislative Assembly. Ms Talabaeva was an independent candidate but the association backed her. We went to the primaries in my Pervomaisky District where I have worked for 30 years. I’m a deputy of the city’s Duma and we were elected, so everything was done fair and square. But when I came in 8th place (Mr Vuglikov was an observer), Ms Talabayeva looked at me and said: “I won’t go. I don’t want to be told that that’s my reputation… I won’t go at all.”

Lyudmila Talabayeva: I chair the committee on social policy and veteran affairs; I’m a member of the regional political council and the honoured worker of the national fishing industry. Last year President Dmitry Medvedev conferred this title on me. I was born in the Primorye Territory and my whole family lives here. I simply refused to go and sent a reliable colleague in my place instead because I was certain about the place where I would be…

Vladimir Putin: I’d like to repeat again what I said in the beginning. The very idea of preliminary voting gives us an opportunity to improve these mechanisms and promote the right people to the top.

Georgy Martynov: Mr Putin, the idea is great. We must now polish it up and prevent people from manipulating it.

Vladimir Putin: I’m very glad that we have discussed this today. We will continue improving these mechanisms. I would like to thank you for your active participation in these procedures and please don’t give up by saying “I won’t go at all.” No, you must go, fight, and achieve results.

Georgy Martynov: Mr Putin, we’ll do this after this meeting with you and it will be much easier for us.

Vladimir Putin: Mr Shuvalov will stay here. He will be here tomorrow. I’d be grateful if you could meet him tomorrow again and discuss the whole list of candidates. Is this okay with you?

Georgy Martynov: Yes, thank you very much.