Visits within Russia

1 october, 2009 20:18

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin held a meeting in Vladimir on the implementation of the Government’s programme for building sports facilities

Mr Putin's opening address:

Good afternoon,

Today, we will discuss the development of sports facilities, and the implementation of the relevant programmes. We will discuss progress in this area today, and our plans for the near future.

Let me remind you that over the last five years the average life span in this country has increased by three years, to reach almost 68 years.

Let me be frank - we still have much to do in order to match the European standards in this area, but we know that this is an achievable goal. This means that standards of living are changing, and that the substantial investment made in healthcare, physical fitness and the construction of sports facilities over the last few years is paying off.

Today, more than 22 million people in Russia regularly participate in sports. This number increases by an average of one percent per year. The relevant figure for children and teenagers is even higher - 7.5 million, or more than a third of the total population. The figures are not insignificant, but we should not rest on our laurels. Neighbouring Finland has completely different statistics - more than 70% of its population participates in sports. Just imagine - 70%!

I have spoken with the governor. It is true that much has been done here recently. An indoor skating arena has been built, and another two are under construction. Other sports facilities are being built, but a mere 18% of the population participate in sports.

In the near future, we must make it so that at least 40 million people participate in sports regularly. All school students should have the opportunity to play sports regularly at school or at home. In general, we must make sports facilities more accessible to different types of people.

We discussed transportation infrastructure this morning. Much progress has been made in this area recently. Obviously, developing this type of infrastructure is absolutely indispensable for business and the entire economy. But social infrastructure is no less important for raising standards of living and increasing the life expectancy.

We cannot afford to delay progress on these goals, despite the current difficulties. This affects the nation's physical and social wellbeing, as well as the development of our main competitive advantage - human capital.

By 2015, we plan to get 30% of the population involved in physical fitness and sports, and the relevant figure for young people should reach 60%. I've already mentioned the absolute figures.

I would also like to draw your attention to the birth rate, which has been on the rise since 2005. A very pleasant change has taken place. Last August, birth rates exceeded death rates for the first time in the last 15 years. This has just been registered by the Ministry of Healthcare and Social Development, and confirmed by Gosstat (Federal Statistics Agency). For the first time in 15 years, we had a natural population increase.

This is not merely a pleasant event. I would like it to become a landmark event. We should do all we can to turn this into a trend and to make it irreversible.

Growing birth rates will increase the demand for kindergartens and sports facilities. We will need even more sports programmes for kids, and more sports centres and clubs for physical fitness and sports overall. We must be ready for this, and we must start working now.

Many of those present know that even today we have a shortage of pre-school day-care centres and kindergartens. If we fail to resolve these problems, instead of making progress, and a natural increase of the population is a progress, we risk getting more social problems for this country, for individuals, and for parents.

We have launched a federal targeted programme The Development of Physical Fitness and Sports in the Russian Federation, and it is being carried out. It calls for the construction of about 4,500 sports facilities by 2015.

As of today, 206 sports facilities have already been commissioned. Another 170 will open their doors this year, including 70 football pitches with artificial turf.

The programme also calls for the construction of 64 sports facilities, two equestrian centres, and 75 football pitches in 2010.

Obviously, apart from this programme, we should make better use of public-private partnership, the resources of business and municipal governments, and, finally, the initiative of civil society.

In this regard, I would like to note that since 2005, the United Russia party has made significant progress on a social project entitled "Construction of PT Health-Building Centres."

When I discussed the draft of the budget for 2010 and the subsequent years with Mr Gryzlov, he emphasized the need to continue supporting this programme with funds from the budget. I agree. It should be supported by the Government.

The United Russia project involves 64 regions, and 144 facilities, including indoor skating arenas, gyms, and swimming pools, have already been built. I just spoke with him about using new technology for building swimming pools. They should be cheap to build, so that we can build many and meet the demand for them. Another 116 facilities are under construction, and at least another 60 will have been completed before the end of the year under the auspices of this project.

I would like to emphasize that these sports centres are being built mostly in small towns and villages where the social infrastructure is clearly inadequate. This fact is very important.

Under the United Russia project, these PH health-building facilities are not only being built but also equipped. About 70% of the equipment is manufactured domestically.

Both the federal programme and the United Russia project have served as a catalyst for regional activity. Thirty-three regions have launched their own programmes for supporting physical fitness and sports. As I have already mentioned, the Vladimir Region is doing much to develop its sports facilities. I am confident that other regions should study the Vladimir Region's experience in greater detail, and speed up the expansion of relevant programmes.

Much is being done in the country for this purpose, but when a concrete programme is launched and funded in a timely manner, the work becomes more regular, and its results become more obvious and meaningful.

I would also like to draw your attention to the need to promote new sports facilities - not just wait for the people to attend them, but also to get people actively involved in sports, to promote services, to work with schools, institutes of higher education, office workers, and people in their homes, and to make use of modern information technologies, including internet sites for sports and health centres.

I think it is necessary to ensure more effective use of sports facilities for PT classes in and outside of schools, for instance, by setting up sports centres to serve several schools at a time, and holding competitions like the one we attended today in Vladimir. This is a very good example to follow.

Let's start the discussion.

* * *

Vladimir Putin's closing speech:

I think that we will consider Mr. Gryzlov's proposal separately - we will look at the possibilities. In any case, the programme is a good one, and we need to think about what steps we need to take, to what degree we can implement it, and on what terms.


The goal for our current meeting is to ascertain what stage of development of sport infrastructure we and you are at now - with a focus on mass sport.

As meeting delegates at this meeting have said, we understand perfectly well that sports are not just "entertainment", and are not just useless games. Sports, from the point of view of the Government, are one of the most important areas we are involved in. Sports are so important because they have to do with the health of the nation, with our efforts to combat crime, and, in essence, with our efforts to reduce many kinds of social spending. Sports also lead to an increase in our defence capabilities, if we take into account the health of our conscripts. And sports boost labour productivity. This is a systematic problem, and its effects can be felt immediately in several areas, if we will resolve it in a timely, competent and systematic manner.

We - in any case, many of us - know how sports were organized in the past, in the Soviet era. Yes, many sport facilities and organizations were rather primitive. And at first glance, they looked as if they were, as they say, dead in the water. But they existed, they were accessible and people exercised there - generally for free.

Today, we live in different times - that's understood. But all the same these facilities should be: а.) sufficiently numerous, and b.), and this is the main thing - they have to be accessible to citizen, including to those citizens who do not have the means to pay for this type of service.

Therefore, what the government and public organizations, including United Russia, are doing to develop sports facilities is extremely important for mass sport. And in addition to everything else, we understand - and today we also talked about this, coming back to it several times -that this is the basis of achievement in sports, superior achievements. Sorry for the needless repetition.

We won't be able to achieve anything in this regard without our own national base. Constantly importing foreign players is a thankless endeavour and it has socio-political limitations, as well as economic ones.

Therefore, everything that we have done in this field in recent years, without a doubt, must be supported. Yes, times are hard today, we often talk about this, and not without reason. The global financial and economic crisis has affected us. But as far as physical education and sports are concerned, as far as people's health is concerned - this will certainly remain our priority.

The issue is how to distribute the burden between the central government, the regions and municipalities. But attention to these issues, and consolidated, government efforts, consolidated efforts in general, should not be put on the back burner.

And in this regard, the fact that there are regional programmes for encouraging physical education and sports in only 33 constituent entities of the Russian Federation is not really a good number. I have already mentioned this in my opening speech. I hold that this is an important issue for regional authorities to focus on.

And I implore the Minister of Sport, Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov, and United Russia- and yes, United Russia currently holds majorities in the regional parliaments of most constituent entities of the Federation - to pay their utmost and closest attention to this.

Let me repeat - today we have merely analyzed the situation concerning this issue as a whole. And certainly, we will adjust our course of action in the near future.

Thank you very much.