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Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky: Mr President, I want to begin by updating you on the implementation of your executive orders of May 7. The Ministry of Culture was given a number of specific instructions, including to establish five cultural development centres, increase electronic libraries’ stocks, make the best films and performances freely accessible online, and develop the Kultura internet portal.
Work is now fully underway in all of these areas and I can report to you on the situation with each of them. I can even say that in some areas, some of the work has been completed already before the funding has been made available.
We optimised the system in such a way that we have now completed the work on setting up virtual museums. They are online now and everyone can take part in the virtual visits they offer. We are actively making films and performances available online. This work is going ahead according to schedule.
We want to do some creative building on the kultura.rf [culture.ru] portal and establish a similar portal in the tourism sector, primarily for domestic tourism, and also a Russian history portal, all the more so as this year is the Year of History in our country.
The biggest task you set the Ministry is to raise wages in the sector. Following your instruction, we are in the process of optimising the culture sector establishments, taking into account the additional funding that you have decided to allocate for wages next year. Let me stress that this optimisation is not about layoffs, but is simply a process of improving financial relations and taking a more thorough approach to internal accounting in culture establishments, that is, the work carried out by the directors of our museums, theatres, circuses and so on.
From the start of next year, we will be able to use the additional federal funding, and we expect to raise the wages of people working in federal cultural establishments by 30–33 percent. I am talking here not of the bosses, but of the staff – the research staff, museum staff, and archival personnel. If these establishments’ heads show enough initiative in the optimisation effort this pay rise will be more substantial.
Over the month following your decision, I travelled to many regions and spoke with the regional heads. I can report to you that the trend you have set for raising wages in the sector has been taken up practically everywhere, and the regions are in the process of finding the reserves to fund this now. I am sure that there will not be a single region that is not giving your initiative its support.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good. Of course, you need to pay attention to the regional cultural establishments too, not just the federal ones.
Vladimir Medinsky: This is the top priority.
Vladimir Putin: Yes, because, as you know, there are many such establishments, and many of them are both cultural and educational – various creative schools, schools of art, music schools. You need to work in this area too, together with the Education Ministry and your colleagues in the regions.