Excerpts from transcript of meeting with graduates of the Management Personnel Pool programme at the Graduate School of Public Administration
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, friends.
I’m happy to welcome you and, first of all, I would like to congratulate you on successfully completing your training.
You are graduates of the fourth group of the Management Personnel Pool programme. As you are aware, this programme started in 2017 and, from its early days, it has become a platform that brings together talented and promising managers from different industries and regions of the Russian Federation, opens new opportunities, and gives new knowledge and skills that are needed to work for the benefit of the country and our people.
Over 300 individuals have undergone such training since the programme has been launched. Based on the training results, five of them were appointed federal ministers, others – city mayors and top managers of major companies, while 39 graduates of the programme are currently heading Russian regions.
Four graduates of the current group are heads of constituent entities of the Federation, and three of your colleagues became acting heads of regions while still training.
I know that many of you have already been appointed to other high positions in government bodies of different levels and leading companies and enterprises. I have no doubt that your dedication and skills will be a valuable asset, and every one of you will be able to prove yourself, just like your colleagues from previous groups did.
Importantly, the Graduate School of Public Administration is, in fact, the pinnacle of the management personnel training system, and all links matter in this system, which we will definitely continue to develop. They must work as one and, importantly, they should be based not on nepotism or good connections, but on transparent principles based on each person’s objective merits so that anyone who seeks to do good for the country and to achieve new professional heights, could do so through mentoring programmes, contests and other open and accessible formats.
Thus, the winners of the Leaders of Russia competition have been participating in the programme for the third year in a row. I think that the competition and the programme complement each other perfectly well and are an indispensable part of our numerous projects. They are united by the common goal which is to create conditions for personal fulfilment of people of different ages and occupations who live in all regions of our vast country.
What I would like to emphasise is that in today's rapidly changing world with numerous uncertainties all around us, the ability to make quick, sometimes outside-the-box, but at the same time well-thought-out decisions is becoming increasingly important, as well as the ability to assume responsibility, to build teams of genuine professionals, and to work towards a common result. As you are now well aware, achieving positive and tangible changes in the interest of people is the key criterion of our work.
In this regard, the new modern quality of management, primarily, public administration, is one of the key success factors in developing the regions and implementing our strategic plans and national projects, and ensuring Russia’s global competitiveness in general.
In this regard, it is especially valuable that you have studied the best domestic and international practices, communicated directly with the most experienced and effective managers and, I am sure, learned much from them. I would like to take this opportunity to specifically thank your mentors.
It is also important that during training (by the way, with the support of the current heads of the constituent entities of the Federation who are graduates of this programme), you completed internships in the regions and worked, as they say, on the ground, and began to work on real territory development projects, which, I hope, will continue into the future.
I am confident that having completed the programme, you will spread the newly acquired skills, experience and management practices in the entities and departments where you work or where some of you might work, and thereby improve their effectiveness.
Effectiveness, especially when it comes to civil service, is measured not only and not so much in numbers and reports. I will reiterate what I have already said many times: the most important thing is concrete improvements in people's lives.
In order to be a truly effective and trustworthy manager, you need not only understand and hear people which, of course, is critically important and indispensable in and of itself, but even more important, you need to be highly sensitive to people's problems and take them with your heart and soul as your own problems.
I have said it more than once, but I want to say it again: civil service is, above all, service to citizens, society and the country.
I am confident that this is how you see your mission. I am aware that many of you, during the challenging period of the pandemic, not only performed your professional duties, but also acted as volunteers and participated in the We are Together campaign, helped doctors, and even donated blood. This, of course, commands respect, and I want to thank you for this.
Let me close with underscoring once again that graduation is always the beginning of a new stage in life and in professional career.
Of course, I wish you successful and productive work, good luck and excellent results in all your projects and endeavours. I count on you not only as my personnel pool, but as a new generation of professionals enjoying high demand in industries that Russia needs. I am sure this is the way it will be.
Vladimir Putin: (Answering the question about the meeting with US President Joseph Biden, in particular, rumours about his health.) With regard to yesterday's meeting and whether something bothered me in my conversation with President Biden or not – you know, I want to say that the image of President Biden as portrayed by our and even the US media has nothing to do with reality. He had a long flight coming from overseas, and there is jet lag. Flying is unsettling even for me too. But he still looks cheerful. We talked face to face for two hours, maybe a little more. He is completely knowledgeable on all issues; he peeked at his notes from time to time – we all do that. And the image that the media present may even be misleading and prompt one to relax concentration, but there is no reason to do this whatsoever. Mr Biden is a professional, and you need to be very careful when working with him so as not to miss something. He himself does not miss a thing, I assure you, and this was absolutely clear to me.
The fact that he sometimes gets confused… His press secretary is a young, educated and beautiful woman, and she gets things confused all the time herself. This is not because of her education or poor memory. It is just, you know, when people think that some things are of secondary importance, they do not really focus on them. The Americans believe that nothing is more important than them – this is their style. So, there is nothing unusual about that. Let me say it again: he is focused, he knows what he wants to achieve and does it very skilfully, and you can instantly sense it. The atmosphere was quite friendly, and I think, we understood each other and where we stand on key issues. We do not see eye-to-eye on many of them, and we have pinpointed these differences, but at the same time we have identified the areas or the points that we can discuss and work towards achieving more converging positions in the future.
There are things that have absolute priority and are of interest to both us and the United States, both interest and priority. Those include controlling the arms race, which is, unfortunately, continuing both covertly and openly, and this is not on our initiative.
There are also regional conflicts. I won’t talk now about things we talk about incessantly. Take Afghanistan; US troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan. This country is very close to us, and we have a military base in Tajikistan. How are we going to build relations in this area? How will we ensure security in the region? This is a very important and practical issue.
There are other things too, such as, say, the environment and climate change. In this regard, how will we arrange our work in the Arctic where the Northern Sea Route is to open for year-round navigation? There are many things we need to think about together and make sure we are not fighting about them but are working out joint solutions that will benefit both Russia and the United States.
There are similar concerns on both sides, but when people don’t talk they accumulate more mutual complaints and concerns, which might not have emerged otherwise. Take cyber security – we have been proposing a dialogue on this for years but they have always been turning down our proposal, while accusing and demonising us. And, as I said at the news conference yesterday, the number of cyberattacks launched from the United States is currently by far the highest in the world; we are not even in the top five in this respect. But both Russia and the US must closely monitor what is happening in this area. It is extremely important for both of us. Instead of “dogfighting,” as we say, quarrelling and pointing fingers, wouldn’t it be better to join forces to fight cybercrime? We talked about this, and I must say that he is knowledgeable on every point. Therefore, I do hope the situation will change from recent years, and he will be able to work in peace.
For our part, we will defend our interests, and we are ready to resume the dialogue as soon as the American side is ready.