President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Yevstifeyev, I want to discuss with you one of the country’s regions, the Republic of Mari El.
As deputy plenipotentiary presidential envoy to the Volga Federal District, you have worked on the region. The situation today is that the current head of the republic has asked to move to a new area of work.
Leonid Markelov has headed Mari El for 16 years now and would like to change jobs. In this respect, I have a question and a proposal. Would you like to head the republic until the election in September, and, depending on the results, take part in the election campaign?
Alexander Yevstifeyev: Thank you, Mr President. This is a great honour and responsibility. I understand well the sense of the word ‘responsibility’, because working in an ethnic republic within the Russian Federation is a serious matter. If this is your instruction, I am ready to carry it out, making use of my experience in the Volga Federal District and in other areas.
Vladimir Putin: Mr Yevstifeyev, in your work as deputy plenipotentiary presidential envoy, working on Mari El too, you had the chance to compare Mari El to other regions in the Volga area. How do you assess the region’s potential?
Alexander Yevstifeyev: The region has quite high potential. True, it has not been fully realised, but there is potential in industrial sectors, and especially in agriculture.
Some areas remain insufficiently developed today, regrettably. For example, there has been a decline in arable land. The situation with young people’s education is also not altogether good. There is still insufficient socioeconomic development, reflected in low wages, but there are achievements too. Much has been done, and there is still much work ahead.
Vladimir Putin: I want to wish you good luck.
Alexander Yevstifeyev: Thank you very much.