President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Nikitin, we have been working together for six years now?
Andrei Nikitin: That’s right.
Vladimir Putin: You have been at the head of the Agency for Strategic Initiatives since then.
The Agency has done much over this time to give economic development a new boost, and this is no exaggeration. You have accomplished much on concrete projects in important development areas and you work together very closely with the business community.
I know that you and your colleagues have been actively promoting the trades at the regional level lately, organising young people’s participation in international competitions and helping the regions to organise events at the regional level, including in Central Russia and in the Novgorod Region.
You have been actively developing your contacts with business community representatives in various regions lately, including the Novgorod Region.
How is this work and this cooperation going?
Andrei Nikitin: Mr President, only the business community itself can really show us which administrative barriers are hindering their work. We can carry out your set objective of reducing barriers for doing business only by working together with the businesspeople. What’s more, the businesspeople should evaluate the work that we and our colleagues in the regions are doing.
We have been very active in this area lately, including in the Northwest Federal District, working with our colleagues in Novgorod Region. We held a series of meetings recently and discussed their concerns and the ways for carrying out the decisions you approved at the State Council Presidium Meeting. We drafted a step-by-step plan, established an expert group, and work is actively underway in this area in the Novgorod Region.
We know too that there is serious work to do in the tourism sector in the Novgorod Region. This includes tourism-related professions too, and the people working in this sector. Vocational schools are starting to train young people for this sector, for service and production professions related to tourism.
A regional championship in this sector took place in the Novgorod Region this year, the first such championship within the WorldSkills system. We hope to see the first medallists in these trades at regional, federal district, and then national level. We are following this development and our colleagues are doing what they can to help.
Vladimir Putin: You know why we are meeting today. You know Novgorod Region’s significance in our history, our life today, and our economy, and you know the region’s potential. I want to appoint you acting governor of the region. I have consulted with the current governor on this matter.
What do you see as most important and promising with regard to the Novgorod Region and its particularities? Our country has many symbolic places, but the Novgorod Region holds a special place, given that is one of the cradles of our Russian land. How do you see the development prospects?
Andrei Nikitin: Mr President, what matters most is your trust, and the people’s trust, which I will have to earn in the region.
Novgorod Region is certainly very interesting from both the historical and logistics point of view. Essentially, it is a corridor between the two capital cities. I think the development priorities could probably be summed up as, first, the tourism industry, and second, the processing sector, which is the main cluster, employing the people living between Moscow and St Petersburg. These sectors could attract both Russian and foreign investment.
Novgorod has old merchant traditions, of course. Russia was known on world markets for several centuries through the efforts of Novgorod merchants. I think that aside from attracting investment, it is very important to remove as many barriers as we can, remove all barriers before those working in the Novgorod Region and give them the chance to develop small, medium, and even big business. I think that these are priorities as far as the economy goes.
As for public life, the social side, the main thing here is to listen to people. Following the model the Agency for Strategic Initiatives used in the regions, we need to listen to what the local people want above all in our urban development plans and our efforts to improve the quality of life.
Vladimir Putin: Yes, that’s the right approach.