Taking part in the meeting were Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Anton Vaino, First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov, Deputy Prime Ministers Viktoria Abramchenko, Yury Borisov, Tatyana Golikova, Alexander Novak, Marat Khusnullin and Dmitry Chernyshenko, Deputy Prime Minister – Chief of the Government Staff Dmitry Grigorenko, Deputy Prime Minister – Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District Yury Trutnev, Presidential Aide Maxim Oreshkin, Minister of Economic Development Maxim Reshetnikov and Minister of Finance Anton Siluanov.
First Deputy Federation Council Speaker Andrei Turchak, a number of ministers and governors, and heads of the Accounts Chamber, the Federal Service for State Statistics, Russian Post and the Russian Popular Front were invited to attend the meeting.
The participants focused on efforts to maintain the wage levels of certain categories of public sector workers and also discussed a number of topical current matters.
Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova reported on the current COVID-19 response effort.
Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin informed those present about clinical tests of an intra-nasal COVID-19 vaccine, developed at the Gamaleya National Research Centre for Epidemiology and Microbiology, and preparations for registering it. He also discussed the implementation of the Pushkin Card programme for promoting cultural events among young people. Russian citizens aged between 14 and 22 receive these state-subsidised cards and can use them to visit museums, theatres, concert halls, philharmonic concerts, conservatoires, and other cultural institutions.
Minister of Economic Development Maxim Reshetnikov reported on measures to support businesses during the COVID-19 restrictions. He also discussed the results of the Russian delegation’s work at the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Glasgow (COP 26).
Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko and First Deputy Federation Council Speaker, Secretary of the United Russia Party’s General Council Andrei Turchak reported on the modernisation of Russian Post’s rural offices and efforts to expand the range of their services.
Minister of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Communications Maksut Shadayev dwelt on matters linked with additional incentives for the development of national IT companies. The participants also discussed the conversion of state companies to Russian-made software.
* * *
Excerpts from Transcript of meeting with Government members
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues.
Is everybody present? Let us get down to work.
Today, we will review social matters, and we will discuss them in greater detail at the end of the interactive videoconference. Now, I would like to ask Ms Golikova to report on the current COVID-19 response efforts.
Ms Golikova, you have the floor.
Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova: Good afternoon, Mr President. Good afternoon, colleagues.
Following the 46th week of 2021, the incidence of the novel coronavirus in the Russian Federation dropped by 6.1 percent and totalled 175.6 cases per 100,000 population.
At the same time, we usually discuss the breakdown across the Russian Federation. I would like to say that the three capital regions, namely, Moscow, Moscow Region and St Petersburg, now account for 20.8 percent of all COVID-19 cases, and the remaining territory of the Russian Federation accounts for 79.2 percent. At the same time, we should keep in mind that, following the 44th week, or two weeks ago, the central region, or these three territories of the Russian Federation, accounted for 30 percent, and we are posting a marked decrease in local morbidity rates.
(Tatyana Golikova went on to provide detailed information on the number of cases in different regions and hospital bed capacity.)
Unfortunately, we have not yet noted a significant decrease in the mortality rate nationwide. More than 1,200 of our citizens still die every day. These are serious and dramatic statistics. To reiterate, mostly people 60 and older pass away and, as a rule, they suffered from chronic diseases and were enrolled in regular medical exam programmes. Unfortunately, the absolute majority of them were not vaccinated.
Therefore, herd immunity remains our most important goal. To date, this stands at 50.4 percent and the necessary number of citizens has already been vaccinated with the first dose in six regions which will make it possible to achieve the planned herd immunity of 80 percent (including the people who have been ill with COVID-19).
We teamed up with researchers and immunisation specialists and, based on the findings in domestic and international studies, discussed in detail the optimal timeline for getting a booster jab for people who have been sick with COVID-19. We came to the conclusion that vaccination certificates for them should remain valid for one year. We came up with this decision because, like other countries, we are monitoring the patients who have been sick and the people who became ill after vaccination, as well as other aftereffects of the disease or vaccination. Our monitoring shows that the number of patients who have fallen ill the second time as a percentage of the total number of patients who have been ill with COVID-19 is 0.74 percent as of today.
We are keeping our recommendation to get a booster jab six months after the first vacination and for people who have been ill. According to international studies and our studies, immunity wears off six months after the jab, so we recommend getting a booster jab to keep it at the proper level.
(Ms Golikova also shared the experience gained from observing people who have been ill with COVID-19.)
Mr President, I would like to report to you that today the Ministry of Health will register the Gamaleya Centre’s Gam-COVID-Vak-M vaccine for children 12–17 years old. Unfortunately, the disease rate among children is high today – much higher than it was during the first and second waves. Therefore, we need to take appropriate action in this respect as well.
Finally, I would like to voice some ideas. Times flies and we are on the eve of the new year. To avoid a new surge of the disease we must continue observing the restrictions we have jointly developed.
I would also like to point out to the regions the need to ensure properly operating healthcare systems during the holidays and to build a reserve of necessary medications and other things required for countering the COVID pandemic. We have transferred funds to the regions. We will soon make the decision to transfer another 89 billion rubles to support the mandatory medical insurance system. The Finance Ministry has approved these figures and the Government will make the relevant decision on them.
(Further, replying to the President’s questions, the Deputy Prime Minister specified recommendations on revaccination and described in detail suggestions on vaccinating children. Ms Golikova also said the vaccine for children could appear in public circulation by late December).
Vladimir Putin: Overall, I believe vaccination should be voluntary, especially for children. You have described the procedures for the potential use of these vaccines. In any event, they must be available. Therefore, I would like to ask the Government to пшму due attention to this, to finance everything properly and on time, to monitor how this work is going and to support the specialists that are doing it.
Ms Golikova, I have one more suggestion; I wonder if this is expedient. I believe it is possible and easy to analyse the life span and the fatality rates in the regions with good vaccination records – you mentioned 80 percent – and in those that have not yet achieved this level. I believe this would be fairly easy and would not take much time.
Tatyana Golikova: Mr President, we are doing this; we are monitoring the situation but considering that the lifespan figures are annual indicators in Russia, we would still like to wait until the end of the 12 months. Then we will be able to report these results to you.
Vladimir Putin: Yes, please, look at the impact of vaccination on this. I believe this is not too difficult.
Tatyana Golikova: We will.
Vladimir Putin: Mr Mishustin, go ahead, please.
Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin: Mr President, I would like to add something.
You have given instructions, some of them to me personally, to cooperate with the Gamaleya National Research Centre in organising clinical trials for the Gam-COVID-Vac nasal spray vaccine, to provide the necessary support.
Preclinical trials have been completed; they have shown that the vaccine is safe and that it works. The programme for clinical trials has also been prepared, and accordingly, approval has been issued to start the first phase with adult volunteers. This is done to reconfirm safety and efficacy and to adjust the dosage. Based on the results, 42 days after we start, an interim report will be prepared for the new vaccine’s registration; Phase 3 clinical trials will begin at the same time. We have allocated the necessary funds for this.
Mr President, we all watched your meeting with Deputy Director of the Gamaleya Centre Denis Logunov – it was on television. We are collaborating with him. We heard you were planning to volunteer. I would like to ask you about this specifically, is this so? You will need to fill out a special permit.
Vladimir Putin: I am a very typical case, nothing unusual here. As Ms Golikova has just said, exactly six months after vaccination, my protective titers dropped, and the specialists recommended getting a booster jab, which I did a few days ago. That was an injection, and the next day, after I spoke to Mr Logunov, he personally administered the second part of the procedure, he gave me that nasal spray.
Do you want to know what it was like? It was also a syringe, but instead of a liquid substance, he drew some powder with it, asked me to take a deep breath on the count of three, sprayed on one side, then on the other, and then I was asked to sit for 15 minutes – and that was it. To be honest, I did not feel anything, just nothing. I just sat there for 15 minutes and then left.
After these two procedures – the injection and the nasal spray – I exercised this morning. So, I can testify that it is exactly the way our scientists and experts say, absolutely. Let us see what the result will be in terms of increasing protective antibody titers.
Mikhail Mishustin: Mr President, we wish you, as well as all our citizens, good health.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much.
I recommend that everyone get vaccinated and get a booster jab as soon as feasible, which is extremely important. At one of our meetings, Ms Golikova said that in order for us to achieve the required level of herd immunity, we need to complete the first phase of vaccination in order to start revaccination in a timely manner, and then our people will be fully protected as is the case in the Armed Forces where most of the people are young and healthy, but were still vaccinated and got a booster shot, and are serving and working with confidence.
By the way, in other military organisations – I know this from reports – at the first stage, despite the fact that we are talking about young and healthy people, there were quite serious problems with COVID. Unfortunately, this disease resulted in personnel losses. Once we were past this bitter period of first getting acquainted with the disease, got everyone vaccinated and revaccinated, the situation returned to normal in the entire military organisation.
So let us follow this path, as I said, calmly, without any fuss and without imposing vaccination on the people. Let us instead use persuasion and make the necessary decisions in a timely fashion.
I also count on the leaders of the regions of the Russian Federation, who initially – in fact, just like many other countries, since many countries followed our lead – were given an opportunity to make decisions based on conditions in their particular region. Regional leaders have a huge responsibility for making the necessary decisions in a timely manner. I strongly count on your statesmanlike approach to your duties in this regard.
Let us move on to other items as planned.
Vladimir Putin: The issues [related to ensuring the necessary level of wages in the public sector] are an absolute priority, they are of importance because they concern the interests of millions of people working in the public sector.
Before summing up the results of our discussion, I would like to thank the State Duma deputies for supporting the proposed amendments to the draft law on the budget. The matter concerns an increase in the subsistence level and minimum wages. I would like to remind you that the subsistence level next year will be 12,654 rubles and the minimum wage, 13,890 rubles in absolute figures throughout the country. I would like to repeat that increasing these figures leads to the growth of many social benefits, including payments to families with children and pension supplements, and will be used as the benchmark for setting wages in the economic sectors.
The subject of today’s meeting is related to the people’s incomes as well, the incomes of those who are employed in healthcare, education, science, culture and the social sector, that is, social protection. We must do whatever is necessary, everything that is possible to ensure that people receive decent wages. The targets were set out in the May 2012 executive orders, as our colleagues have already pointed out.
I would like to emphasise once again that these parameters, which are connected to the average income in every region’s economy, must be scrupulously complied with. They serve as the basis for federal and regional budgets.
It has already been mentioned here that the average payroll in the economy has surpassed the forecast.
(Further, at the President’s request, Economic Development Minister Maxim Reshetnikov provided figures related to wage increases and also current forecasts in this sphere, with due regard for inflation and other factors.)
Vladimir Putin: Yes, these are positive figures indeed, and this is very good, with the exception of the rise in inflation, which means that unless we allocate additional funds, wages in the public sector may lag behind the targets of the May 2012 executive orders. We must not allow this to happen under any circumstances. We must not permit this, especially since our doctors and other medical personnel, and teachers are working in extremely difficult, extraordinary conditions. I am referring to the pandemic restrictions. They are working selflessly and at full capacity, and all requirements concerning their wages must be complied with.
I would like the Government and the heads of regions to pay special attention to the following. It is necessary to ensure 100-percent implementation of the May executive orders based on the actual growth rate of the average wage across the economy in 2021 and on the parameters that the Economic Development Minister has just described. I ask the Government to provide additional funds and render support to the regions in attaining the required level of public sector pay, the way we did previously while implementing the May executive orders starting in 2012.
Please finalise these matters and think of what the Chelyabinsk Region Governor has just said. You should also keep in mind the proposals made by the Ministry of Finance: they are quite sound and it is only necessary to avoid a fixation on some formal solutions and to proceed from the specific situation in each constituent entity of the Russian Federation.
I would like to put a separate emphasis on the following – this was mentioned here earlier, and I fully agree with it and want to stress it once again: the 5,000 rubles in additional payments made to school and college teachers (the latter must not be forgotten either) for class tutorship should not be counted in as part of their regular salary. These extras are meant as additional support: we shall proceed from this in the future and I ask everyone to allow no other interpretations. This principle also fully applies to the extras paid to the medics working with COVID-19 patients.
All these instructions must be put into practice before the end of this year and therefore all the clearances we have just mentioned are to be obtained within the shortest possible period of time. It is important to pass the decisions that are necessary for this with maximum speed to make it possible for public sector employees to get paid in the amount envisaged by the parameters of the 2012 May executive orders before the end of 2021. Based on this year’s performance, it is also necessary to envisage the need for funds to implement the May executive orders next year. I would like to ask the Government to keep the implementation of this task under its special scrutiny.
Thank you very much for today’s joint work.
All the best.