Visits within Russia

17 september, 2009 19:32

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin held a meeting on the preparations for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi

Transcript of the meeting:

Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon,

Today, we will discuss preparations for the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.

I would like to begin by saying that on the whole, the construction of Olympic facilities is going according to plan, without critical mishaps.

Design and construction are proceeding according to schedule. We should continue this work at the same measured pace, and commission a number of major facilities before the end of the year.

Let me remind you that we plan to complete 10 energy and transportation infrastructure facilities this year, including substations and electric grids in the Adler District, a new airport terminal in Sochi, and many others.
As we discussed before, the lion's share of the efforts and funding will be spent on developing the local infrastructure. The first facilities are a part of this development.

However, I would like to emphasize a number of important points.

First, two difficult sections of the road bypassing Sochi have been completed this year. The second stage of this project should also be completed this year. Such projects are crucial for the city and the upcoming Olympics.

It is also essential to commission the alpine road leading to the Roza Khutor ski resort in time. In February of 2011, it will host the Alpine Skiing European Cup.

It is equally important to resolve the issues impeding the construction of the Adler Ring, one more project of major significance. This must be done as soon as possible, and it must be fair to the people affected. I would like to emphasize that these problems have to do with management rather than construction. Therefore, we must make progress, instead of referring to "objective" difficulties involved. There are always numerous "objective" difficulties.

Second, despite the economic difficulties, we have managed not only to retain practically all of the investors in Olympic projects, but also to attract new ones, for instance, for the construction of ice rinks. Previously, we had planned to use government resources to fund these projects.

Nevertheless, we are still looking for investors for Olympic projects. This issue should be resolved without delay. It is essential that we meet the requirements for the number of hotel to be constructed.

Third, we must make final decisions on the most rational location for Olympic facilities, and find additional opportunities to reduce environmental impact.

We are obliged to protect nature against harmful, careless, or unprofessional interference. It is highly important to take into account constantly the advice of experts and the representatives from environmental protection agencies.

Now I would like to say a few words about our biggest projects - the Central Stadium and the International Olympic University.

The stadium is the main building of the Olympic Park. Its architecture, layout, and clear-cut conformance of the IOC requirements should be put at the top of the list of priorities.

As for the university, its future location should be chosen as soon as possible. I hope we will discuss this as well.

Its design should be completed without delay. I think we should unveil it to the public in the winter of 2010 in Vancouver.

One last point. The Olympic construction programme is fully funded, but it is clear that there are plenty of opportunities to save money on practically every project, including sports facilities, transportation infrastructure, and electric power stations.

Inefficient spending is absolutely inadmissible now that the budget is going through uneasy times. As I have already said, all issues that involve the interests of the people should be resolved fairly and on the basis of the market economy, but without encouraging profiting at the state's expense. And of course, nobody, including contractors, should try to pocket money at the state's expense.

We should constantly monitor compliance with this requirement.

Let's start the discussion. I yield the floor to President of the Olympstroy Corporation Taimuraz Bolloyev.

Taimuraz Bolloyev: Thank you, Mr Putin.

The Olympstroy Corporation is the coordinator of Olympic construction, which is carried out by about 50 contractors, including private investors, and federal and regional authorities.

In the last six months, we have established a streamlined system for managing projects. It allows us to monitor the implementation of the Olympic programme virtually on a daily basis. Our corporation is using international experience in this sphere, for instance, Britain's preparations for the 2012 Olympics in London.

We have drafted a schedule, which takes into account the interdependence of projects, the order of priority in their implementation, and stages of construction. Considering that there are 235 projects in this programme, it would be extremely difficult to coordinate anything without a SW-based approach.

The committee holds operational meetings every week to analyze the progress of construction, and resolve the emerging problems.

I would like to draw your attention to some points that we consider important. As it was already mentioned, the Central Stadium is one of the main projects. It will be the venue for the opening, closing, and award ceremonies. Taking into account its special significance, the corporation has hired world famous companies to develop its architectural concept.

Vladimir Putin: How many spectators will it accommodate?

Taimuraz Bolloyev: 40,000 people. That is the number of seats.

Vladimir Putin: If we win the right to hold the world football championship, will it be possible to host it there?

Taimuraz Bolloyev: When we were discussing the concept, it was a priority that the Olympic stadium could be used for this championship in 2018.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you.

Taimuraz Bolloyev: The Interdepartmental Commission, which includes architects and representatives of relevant agencies, discussed various options of the architectural concept on September 10.

There were seven designs-six of them submitted by bidders, some of them global celebrities with vast international experience.

Taking into account the mounting public interest, the Observation Council will appoint a general executive on September 23. We think the stadium will be a worthy part of the Olympic heritage.

Now, regarding the hotel centre. So far, we have not been able to find the place for 13,000 rooms in accordance with bids and the overall coordinated number of 42,000 rooms. The corporation has chosen attractive sites and the best possible construction terms to attract investors. We have investors from Armenia and Moldova who will be building the CIS countries' hotel complex. We are also involved in negotiations with Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. We are planning talks and meetings starting tomorrow, even during the upcoming forum.

The corporation pays special attention to relocating residents, and tries to reduce related problems as much as possible.

Mr Putin, as you may remember, you asked about a State Council Presidium meeting last March, which you chaired. The corporation answered that it would begin construction of the Nekrasovsky development in June. We have successfully done that now. The construction is organised in two stages. 56 out of the 112 houses will be ready by December, and the other 56 houses in February 2010.

We have appointed other construction sites. 166 houses will be built in Tavricheskaya Street. The tender winner has started construction. The Merry Psou neighbourhood will be built in Urozhainaya Street, with 56 houses and 256 flats.

Mr Putin, you have mentioned the highway to edge of the Roza Khutor resort area. It really is a very difficult road to build. There are two problems with it. First, we will be working to a very tight schedule. The highway has to be ready by November 2010. Otherwise, it will not be possible to hold an athletic competition, which is scheduled for February 2011. We have divided the job into two parts, the preparations and the construction itself. We have held a tender, whose winner will prepare wintertime construction.

State expertise of the project will finish in early October. We have appointed the second stage-choice of the main contractor-for the end of October. This schedule will make it possible to meet the deadline, which is highly desirable, as we understand.

That is all I want to call your attention to. Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: As far as the deadline is concerned, is not just desirable, it is absolutely crucial to meet it. Please do everything you can.

Mr Chernyshenko has the floor.

Dmitry Chernyshenko: Mr Putin, International Olympic Committee members are making one of their regular inspection visits on September 16-19. IOC Chairman Jean-Claude Killy and Gilbert Felli, Olympic Games Executive Director, lead the inspection team.

The Organising Committee is reporting to the inspectors on 34 aspects of the job out of the 52 aspects relevant for the Olympics.

The first part of the inspectors' visit was in Moscow. On Wednesday, we discussed strategic plans in an atmosphere that was quite informal. Now, we have finished an essential stage of strategic planning to get over to operation planning-practical blueprints we will check on a knowledge transfer programme in Vancouver, where we are sending more than 100 people.

I want to say also that we have arranged it with the IOC for the first time in the Olympic history to expand accreditation and attract other Games organisers, municipal officers, other executives, Olympic transport managers-in short, everyone on whose performance who the Games depend-to the commentator programme. They will receive highly valuable experience in Vancouver, the city to give us the Olympic relay baton.

Formal reports are due tomorrow, September 18. The inspectors will make a tour of construction sites the day after. We hope the Commission Chair and other inspectors will see for themselves that we are coping with our ambitious plans. We also hope they will share their impressions of Vancouver with us.

Vladimir Putin: Yes, we have arranged a meeting. Mr Yakunin has the floor.

Vladimir Yakunin: Thank you, Mr Putin. I will report on the progress made in six projects which are the responsibility of the Russian Railways.

The freight yard is ready. Mr Kozak opened the first stage on December 26. Works on the second stage have finished today with the construction of a cement-making complex. So Russian Railways' first Olympic project is over.

We are building another freight yard on schedule, as arranged with Olympstroy. We will certainly open it in time.

As for more complicated projects, there is a railway line to build from Adler to the Sochi airport. I have checked construction today. Eight piers are ready, another six are being installed, and two are in preparation. The site has been cleared for tunnelling, and everything has been coordinated with regional and municipal authorities. There are no problems. The job is going according to the schedule and approved blueprints.

The railway and the highway combined with it are the most difficult of our projects. We have started tunnelling. A 400-metre stretch is ready. The job demands every precaution to protect the environment.

It is only shield tunnelling now. We avoid drilling and blasting until the tunnel is at least 500 metres long, which is enough to see whether geological prospecting data is correct. Only then can we get started with more intensive work.

We are designing passenger terminals of the Dagomys, Sochi, Matsesta and Khosta railway stations for Olympic visitors, convenient for persons with disabilities.

As for the central terminal, you have laid the commemorative capsule yourself today. The construction begins in accordance with approved design documents, and will go on schedule.

Vladimir Putin: When will it be ready?

Vladimir Yakunin: In 2012. It is far more than a simple railway station. As I told you the last time we met, it will cater for all means of ground transport, and even maritime vessels if possible. We should arrange it with the regional administration. Anyway, we have support, at least moral support, for this concept.

Vladimir Putin: Will it be 2012 or the end of 2011?

Vladimir Yakunin: The end of construction is scheduled for 2012.

There is another project, the Tuapse-Adler stretch, whose capacity must increase. The job has begun. Olympstroy keeps an eye on it, and Mr Kozak has visited the site repeatedly. I don't think we will have any problems here, though eleven holiday hotels are too close to the railway line. We have signed agreements with nine of them that they will change their plans.

I hope we will reach agreement with the other two soon. We make it a point to settle such matters through talks. The majority of people understand our needs, and municipal authorities support us.

We have other problems, howev, owing to juridical intricacies. The name of the project is "Adler-Krasnaya Polyana Railway Construction-Alpica Service". But then, the Tuapse-Adler railway is also among the Olympic projects, so please consider whether it could be changed to "Sochi-Alpica Service". The Transport Ministry and Mr Kozak approve the idea. To change it from "Adler-Alpica Service" to "Sochi-Alpica Service".

The change will not demand any additional budget allocations, and any other funding. It will merely allow us to use a clause of the Olympic Law to simplify land alienation. Otherwise, there may be numerous delays. I repeat, the change will not require any funding.

As for our financing, it comes from the Russian Railways investment programme and federal allocations. I would like to thank you and the Government on behalf of the company board for timely funding.

Much to our regret, the Intermodal Transport project was to be funded by adding 1% to freight shipment tariffs. However, freight shipments are shrinking, so the company has to fund it from its own purse and out of our savings.

I would like to mention two other problems. They concern saving budget money. We have cut costs by 20% in the first eight months of the year due to active negotiations with suppliers, which means that we use the prices of the end of last year. It is great help.

We have also reduced costs by 110 billion roubles as we promised to the Government. We have done it on company board decision and in keeping with a resolution the Government made while drawing up the tariff plan for railway freight shipments.

It is essential to choose companies with certain know-how in Olympic construction and environmental protection. Here, I approve what Olympstroy managers are doing. In particular, we have established the client's ad hoc team, with a service and a design office, which have joined Lavalin for engineering support. Lavalin is a Canadian company engaged in similar work for the Vancouver Olympics.

So we are making the job quicker through effective coordination of our projects with the Olympic Committee.

As for environmental protection, the science and production company Ecocentre MTEA is ready with project documentation on estimating project impact on the environment. These comprehensive estimates will make it possible to answer questions that are often put to the Russian Railways and the company we are attracting as partner. However sensitive the matter might be, we can prove that we comply with all environmental standards.

The municipal and regional administrations have voiced concerns about the impact of the railway line on the beaches nearest to it. I want to say that in the past 20 years we have poured 2 million cubic metres of gravel along a 102 kilometre stretch to preserve the railway line because the local hydrodynamic situation is problematic and threatens to destroy the beaches. In fact, as we try to protect them, we preserve our own infrastructure. The beaches are used both by Sochi residents and tourists. Now, we are considering the possibility of building special railway crossings. Here, too, we reckon with the population's opinions and, naturally, cooperate with municipal authorities.

On the whole, we are meeting posed targets in keeping with the programme, and there are no lags in a single project.

We think we will keep up the necessary pace later, as well.

Mr Kozak is aware of our problems. Allow me to skip them over because they belong to the daily routine and do not defy strategic solution. We can cope with them all single-handed.

On the whole, according to information we receive regularly from Mr Kozak's office, there have been no complaints against Russian Railways' work on Olympic projects. We are working according to the established procedure and meet every deadline. That is all I wanted to say.

Vladimir Putin: Mr Yakunin, Russian Railways has really achieved a great deal. It is a quality job which meets the deadline. What has caught my attention now is your mention of prices of the end of 2008 that you are using. The peak of last year's prices fell on August. They subsided somewhat at the end of the year-but less than they should have due to the overall economic crisis. So you have nothing to boast of here. You should go on rationalising design and construction, and reducing their costs.

Vladimir Yakunin: We will try.

Vladimir Putin: Please make sure you deal with it, and report to me on the results in some time. Thank you.