The Presidential Executive Order establishing the Russia – Land of Opportunity autonomous non-profit organisation was signed on May 22, 2018. Its main goal is to create conditions for upward mobility and help people of all ages achieve personal and professional growth.
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Excerpts from transcript of meeting of the Russia – Land of Opportunity Supervisory Board
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, friends.
Today we are holding the fourth meeting of the Supervisory Board of the Russia – Land of Opportunity organisation.
I am delighted to see and welcome Supervisory Board members and participants of this project, all those who are interested in and are helping promote it, which is very important.
I would like to tell you about your achievements. There are certain results. First of all, the organisation has been operating for five years. That is good in itself; it is working and developing. We also have an opportunity to discuss what it has achieved – I will say a few words about this – and to map out our plans for the future.
What results can we report? There are 26 programmes. This does not mean much; there could be 36 or even 106 programmes. The important thing is that over 20 million people took part in these programmes. It is an impressive figure. And no less impressive is the fact that our friends and colleagues from over 150 countries were involved in these programmes despite the current problems and the circumstances we are living in. It is a strong result indeed.
It means that it is important for proactive people who are looking for their place in the world and striving for results, and that they feel that all our measures are aimed at supporting people, at helping them attain the goals they have set for themselves and possibly at helping them formulate these goals.
As for opinion surveys, in 2017 only 37 percent of young people thought that conditions in Russia were good for self-realisation. The current figure is over 80 percent. It means that the efforts the government is taking, including your efforts, are having the desired effect. And over 90 percent of the projects’ participants think so.
There is high demand for the Russia – Land of Opportunity project itself. The logic of all actions under this project is putting the focus on people, on individuals with their ambitions in the best sense of the word, and their striving for personal improvement and for contributing to the efforts of the state and society in key development areas.
As I have said, our projects are aimed at helping people find self-fulfilment. In this context, I would like to mention the informal part of our lives, namely the fact that 2023 has been declared the Year of Teachers and Mentors. I would like to note that the project participants meet with people who have achieved practical results in their lives, results that have been recognised in society. These people gave lectures and acted as mentors in the broadest sense of the word. It is equally important that the project participants also act as teachers and mentors to younger people who are taking their first steps in their careers and on the way to their goals. All this is very important.
Of course, it is important to promote demand for these projects and to increase their appeal. I hope that this is how it will be, and the results already speak for themselves. At the very least, we have been successful so far. Take the expedition the Russia – Land of Opportunity organisation held around the Sea of Azov. I believe that it was also important for the people you have met and worked with during that trip, which was not a pleasure cruise but business. I would like to thank all those who took part in that project last year.
Of course, I also hope that the situation will continue to develop in the same vein, and that you will continue to work energetically and effectively.
Mr Komissarov will now tell us about this. Please.
General Director of the Russia – Land of Opportunity non-profit organisation, Rector of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA) Alexei Komissarov: Thank you very much, Mr President.
Back in 2018, when you made a decision to create the Russia – Land of Opportunity organisation, one of the key issues we faced was how are we going to access our performance. It was decided to rely on the opinion of our citizens as the main indicator. You have already mentioned opinion poll results. Indeed, we consider this the most important indicator.
Every year, our Supervisory Board meets to discuss the results we have achieved: we started from 37 percent, as you have said, then moved to 50, 62, and 76 percent last year. VCIOM recently conducted another opinion poll, and 81 percent of Russian citizens noted that they were confident that the younger generation had an opportunity for self-fulfilment, an opportunity to use their abilities and to achieve success in life.
The second indicator is the scale, the coverage. I will not repeat the statistics that you have already mentioned in your opening remarks. However, I would like to say that tens of thousands of our project winners have really changed their lives through their involvement in the Russia – Land of Opportunity platform. Some of them were able to undergo on-the-job training at the best companies. Others were invited to work as public servants, and many people worked together with their personal mentors. I would like to sincerely thank all the mentors of our platform who worked with the winners. One has become the mayor of a large city.
You have recently met with graduates of the RANEPA programme for training management personnel pool, the so-called School of Governors. Many of them joined the programme after working with the Leaders of Russia project.
I guess those involved in our projects, their readiness to help other people become mentors for younger participants and make people around them stronger and our country stronger and better are the third indicator.
By the way, many initiatives that are currently yielding results have been proposed by participants in our projects and put forward at previous Supervisory Board meetings, and we made the corresponding decisions. For example, the revived Znaniye (Knowledge) Society, the More than a Journey tourism project, the Movement of the First and others.
It has already become a good tradition of ours for the participants to present various projects. I believe that we will not deviate from this tradition, and we will give the floor to them.
Alexei Komissarov: Today we have Ilya Shtokman here, one of the season two winners. After the competition, Ilya’s life changed incredibly: he became first deputy mayor of Nizhny Novgorod. But he continued to change his life and his destiny. I think it would be better if Ilya told us about it himself.
Vladimir Putin: Please, Ilya.
Ilya Shtokman: Good afternoon.
Starting out, my story was typical, like everyone else: school, wrestling practice, university; I graduated from the Faculty of Computational Mathematics and Cybernetics, went to work. Then 1998 happened: a crisis. My wife and I decided to leave the country, and so we left. Abroad, I went from a loader at a bakery to project manager in a large IT company.
Vladimir Putin: Where were you a loader?
Ilya Shtokman: At a bakery.
Vladimir Putin: A bakery is not so bad; it is not the worst place.
When I was a student, I worked part-time: we loaded bags at a railway station. But I did not really like it, to be honest.
Ilya Shtokman: No, we took trays out of the oven.
The company used the best of what was available in project management at that moment, plus in management in general. So, I was lucky to be able to absorb and understand all of this myself.
In 2004 I decided to return and build a family business with my father. So, I went from IT into production, where I worked in one form or another for 15 years. I was often asked why I returned. I always said that I wanted to live in a country where I want to live, and everything that I have done and am doing, I do for this purpose.
Gradually, I have built my business and perfected all the processes, but I thought it was still too early to retire at 40. So, a new story began, the story of the Leaders of Russia, a competition where you can compete with other managers and which has really changed all my life.
I did not make it to the finals in season one. I thought that perhaps there were people who were better than me, and so I took the first step: I began studying. After that, I won season two, and got down to studying again. Then, a man who also won the Leaders of Russia competition was appointed mayor of Nizhny Novgorod; we met there, and he suggested that I come work in the administration. He did not just offer but challenged me. He said: you often say that this or that must be done, or why they cannot see this, so go on and do it.
I accepted this challenge and ended up in the Nizhny Novgorod city administration as the first deputy mayor. My sphere [of responsibility] included IT, the economy, tourism, entrepreneurship and large projects. We have accomplished a lot over these two years. Other winners of the competition joined our team: there are five of us now.
We began to change the philosophy and set people up for success and abandon the words “that is how it has been done historically.” We held the celebrations to mark Nizhny Novgorod’s 800th anniversary and launched the digital transformation of the city with data-based management; we brought the entire “zoo” of different information systems together on a single municipal government platform.
There were a lot of ideas and plans, but then mobilisation was announced. It was Saturday, I was sitting on a bench at my dacha, and I looked around me, I looked at my son who was busy with something, perhaps with something very important, and I realised that everything that is happening here is very important, of course, but the future of our country is being decided right now there, in the south.
The country has been doing something for us for a very long time, and then for once it asked that something be done for it. On Monday I cancelled my reservation, on Tuesday I joined the army, and for nine months now we have been in the Lugansk People's Republic.
I should probably just wish you strength and health to continue what you are doing, because then we will all live in a country in which we want to live.
That’s it. That is my story.
Vladimir Putin: Ilya, this is an amazing story that you have just told. You know, some part of the country’s history is reflected in it, as perhaps in each of us. This is a country searching for its place in life, and the same goes for you. And in the end, you have really found the most important thing in this search: dedication to this country. And in the end, this is a struggle for the future of our children, and of your child, which you have just mentioned. How old is he, by the way?
Ilya Shtokman: The youngest is nine.
Vladimir Putin: And the elder?
Ilya Shtokman: The eldest daughter is 23.
Vladimir Putin: You, having two children, have made the decision to go to the frontline while having such career prospects as deputy mayor in one of the largest cities in Russia. Incredible.
I want to thank you for this, wish you all the best and success to your comrades-in-arms. I know how difficult it is for them in certain areas, and it is not easy in general: this is the hardest work, day and night, under constant threat to life and health. It is not easy.
So, first I wish you success. And second, I hope that, having received this life experience, you will return to civilian life after completing your tasks where you are now and where you are really needed, and carry on with your career in life in the broadest sense of the word.
First Deputy Chief of Staff [of the Presidential Executive Office] Sergei Kiriyenko is here. He often goes to the special military operation zone. I ask him, specifically as Deputy Chief of Staff, to pay attention to such people, bearing in mind the prospects for their career advancement in the interests of the country, and not only in the Armed Forces, but also in civilian life. Good luck.
Ilya Shtokman: Thank you.
Vladimir Putin: By the way, as far as I know, Shtokmanovskoye is the largest gas field in the north of the country…
Ilya Shtokman: Unfortunately, I have nothing to do with it.
Vladimir Putin: No, it is not named after you, but I believe there will be streets, cities, parks and schools named after your fellow soldiers.
Alexei Komissarov: They said you have many people whose lives have changed because of this platform, but some people started changing things earlier.
I would like to give the floor to an unusual participant – Christelle Neant. Christelle is her given name, and Neant is her family name. Christelle is from France but she came to the DPR in 2016. Recently, she took part in our New Media Workshop project that is being run by Senezh Workshop Management.
I think it would be better if Christelle tells her story herself. She has an interesting destiny and an interesting story.
Christelle Neant: Good afternoon, everyone! Good afternoon, Mr President!
As was said, seven years ago I decided to come to Donbass to work as a war correspondent. I wanted to convey the truth. I wanted the voice of the Donbass people to reach the French-speaking audience. At first, I worked at DONi (Donetsk International News Agency) in Donetsk. Unfortunately, it closed in 2018, and I decided that I needed a platform to publish my articles and videos.
I created my own website “Donbass Insider.” When I worked for DONi, we had a full team, but now I am almost alone. I saw that I could not do everything myself, that this was not efficient. I am not alone in this situation. Almost all Western media that are telling the truth despite the risks and threats are independent journalists that work by themselves. I saw that this wasn’t efficient. We all worked to build a good reputation, and the fact is that are telling the truth, always. We have developed very strong relations with our audience. They know that if they read our articles or watch our video reports, they are reading the truth. They do not expect any propaganda.
Sometimes we worked together on small projects, but that was some time ago. I thought we should unite all Western journalists in one team to be more effective.
Last year I was in the New Media Workshop. I learned how to create a project, how to build an efficient team and how to prepare a presentation. Our colleagues from Russia – Land of Opportunity, enthusiastically supported my project and helped me prepare all these presentations.
If you support this project, we will continue working together with our colleagues from the New Media Workshop and from the Russia – Land of Opportunity project to unite all journalists in one team. We want these people who are now like separate fingers to become a fist that will be more effective in fighting Western propaganda. All these journalists come from the West, and we know how Western propaganda works and how to counter it in the best way.
Thank you for your attention.
Vladimir Putin: Christelle, you know, people like you exist, but they are rare. There are more than eight billion people on the planet, and it is still rare to meet people like you…
Christelle Neant: Thank you.
Vladimir Putin: …who are able to uproot themselves from their usual comfortable surroundings and work, live and affirm with their lives the correctness of their convictions, following their beliefs and subjecting themselves to danger. It is a rare thing.
Of course, I wish you success. We will do everything we can to support your project. You have said: “we are telling the truth, always.” This is probably the sharpest weapon against lies and propaganda soaked in these lies.
Christelle Neant: This is why they are so afraid of us and constantly try to discredit us.
Vladimir Putin: Yes, I believe this is true. This is why they essentially shut down everywhere our only information resource targeting Western audience: Russia Today. They shut it down everywhere or put up obstacles; they are afraid of the truth, including coming from those of your colleagues from Western countries who work for Russia Today.
By the way, I will ask your colleagues from the media community to help you expand your opportunities, including Russia Today and Sputnik. I think Russia Today works in six languages, including French. Sputnik, I think, has more than 30 languages. This is the scale.
And of course, we will be pleased to support your project.
Christelle Neant: Thank you.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much.
I just want to wish you success, because, first of all, we have many friends in European countries, including France. I know this personally.
I know people are thinking with us. They simply try not to give them the opportunity to think – others think for them and impose their stereotypes on them.
Christelle Neant: Yes. Recently, I carried out an analysis of propaganda in France with a colleague of mine, Laurent Briar, whom I want to invite to the team, and we were shocked. We analysed articles, several newspapers, the media in France; and it really is a huge propaganda machine, where they constantly repeat the same words, schemes, ideas. This is like what was coming from Goebbels.
Vladimir Putin: You know that hostilities in Donbas did not start in February 2022, but much earlier, in 2014–2015. What year did you come there?
Christelle Neant: At the beginning of 2016.
Vladimir Putin: You have already seen that the fighting was going on, that the war had already begun.
Christelle Neant: Yes.
Vladimir Putin: People in European countries and in the United States who understand this do not want developments to move in that direction. But I believe the ruling elites have usurped and abused their position and their monopoly on power. And people like you, in my opinion, are performing a very important task, and not only in the interests of Donbass, but in the interests of their country, because they are trying to show that the policy pursued by these countries’ ruling elites is wrong and harms their own people.
Thank you very much. We will try our best to support you.
Christelle Neant: Thank you.
Alexei Komissarov: To continue the discussion of our new regions and project participants that are mobile and ready for new challenges, I would like to give the floor to Ivan Safronov.
Ivan moved from the Tambov Region to the Kherson Region and is now doing important work there. Let him speak for himself.
Ivan, go ahead please.
Ivan Safronov: Good afternoon, Mr President! Good afternoon, colleagues!
I really come from the most eco-friendly region of the country – the Tambov Region. I started my career as a university lecturer and defended a thesis in the field of IT. Later I was invited to the supreme executive government body – the Tambov regional administration – where I worked on government support mechanisms and ways of improving the investment climate.
Everyone knows business support centres like My Business Centre. In 2017–2018, my team developed a business space project called Geometry of Business. It has become a prototype for such projects all over the country.
In addition, at the Governor’s proposal I headed the Tambov Regional Department for the Development of Trade and Industry. As you said, I probably really thought that I had achieved something. However, the Leaders of Russia competition changed my way of thinking. On the one hand, I tested what I was capable of and, on the other, I realised that I had outgrown myself. For me, accepting a position in the new regions in a difficult operational environment is truly an opportunity to use all the skills I have acquired.
My family and friends supported me and, besides I also wanted to be an example for my children – I already have three.
I underwent federal training at the Russian Federation Ministry of Industry and Trade, received approval from the region’s administration and took up the position of Minister of Industry and Trade of the Kherson Region.
I have been in the Kherson Region for over three months. Our main goal, of course, is to re-launch businesses that were idle, attract investors and provide state support to industrial plants that had never received it before.
In addition to this, we are actively developing trade infrastructure. This year, we implemented the Social Bread project, which contemplates adding to the producers’ assortment list of bread with a price tag of no more than 18 rubles.
We are actively working with the Leaders of Russia platform and would like to offer them the opportunity to open an office in our Kherson Region. This would allow us to create inter-sectoral teams that would speed up and simplify the integration of the new regions. Their residents would feel that they live in a big, united and great country.
Vladimir Putin: I think this is what we should do. I will be only too happy to support it. It is a good idea.
Where would I like to focus? Where was my attention drawn and, I hope, that of the people here as well? You said you made this decision in a difficult operational environment. You are a completely civilian person but you are talking in absolutely military terms. Rather than reflecting some militarisation of thinking, I think it shows an understanding of the acute situation in which we are now, in which we live and work. I think that feeling this edge will certainly help enhance the efficiency and quality of your work. For our part, we will definitely support this.
Alexei Komissarov: Information and communications technology is one of the most important industries in the world and in Russia today. I hear you will meet with the Russian Government later today where you plan to talk about artificial intelligence among other things.
Our platform has a project called Digital Breakthrough. Season: Artificial Intelligence, where participants address real and sometimes very difficult tasks using artificial intelligence. The tasks are chosen for them by government agencies and businesses, including both large and small companies.
We have one of the winners here among us: Yegor Sechinsky. By the way, Yegor, despite his young age, has won several projects in the Russia – Land of Opportunity competitions, and started his own company at the age of 18, if I am not mistaken. So, we have wonderful participants. But I think it would be better to give the floor to Yegor.
Yegor Sechinsky: Good afternoon, colleagues.
My name is Yegor Sechinsky, I am 21 years old, and I am the founder of the Ninsar IT company.
We have been helping Russian businesses implement digital technologies for three years already, and now, by the way, we have begun developing our own project: the game Saturn, about engineers and scientists in a Russia of the future.
In fact, I began my career back at school, when I took part in the National Technological Olympiad on the development of a computer virtual reality. It was there, in the finals, when I realised that I could create something with my own hands and that I had everything I needed for this: skills, opportunities, and conditions.
Then I learned about the Russia – Land of Opportunity platform and began to participate in their events. There, I met so many talented and cool young people who became my friends; it was unimaginable. There were also adults who supported me, who said that what I was doing was very important and right. But my main breakthrough, oddly enough, happened at Digital Breakthrough. There I was able to assemble a team; we solved the task set by business and won, and after that, we entered the open market and began resolving other companies’ tasks.
Now, our company employs more than 30 people. We have implemented over 50 projects over this time. We now have three digital services based on artificial intelligence. Three years ago, I would not have believed that I would be running such a company. But in Russia it is possible, and young people are given a way, and this is true.
By the way, artificial intelligence really helps us now and is not taking away tasks and work from our specialists. Using it, our team can find more time for some cool tasks, not routine work, and artificial intelligence helps them stay inspired.
Cyber-Physical Platform – a gaming platform aimed at teaching children programming. I would say, all this talk about artificial intelligence replacing us in the long run is just science fiction stories. We need to support artificial intelligence.
I know that Mr German Gref is holding a conference on artificial intelligence, AI Journey, at Sberbank, and the Russia – Land of Opportunity platform has a Digital Breakthrough. Season: Artificial Intelligence section. I think it would be interesting to try to combine these two events and hold an international track together. This would help bring together the theorists from AI Journey and the practitioners from Digital Breakthrough.
This is my small suggestion.
Vladimir Putin: Mr Gref, will artificial intelligence replace you as CEO of Sberbank?
President and Chairman of the Board of Sberbank German Gref: Mr President, I hope not in my lifetime, but at this rate, that’s what’s coming.
Vladimir Putin (addressing Yegor Sechinsky):You see, with people like this, any progress is going to slow down now.
German Gref: It is an interesting idea. We will consider it. In fact, it is indeed important to join forces. I think we can do more together. Thank you very much for the idea.
Vladimir Putin: Indeed, Sberbank has been doing a lot in this respect for a long time, for many years, right? How many? For at least five years, probably.
German Gref: We have been holding AI Journey conferences for five years. In general, we have been investing a lot in this for about 12–13 years.
Vladimir Putin: Yes, you have invested a lot. Can you give me the figure,please?
German Gref: Every year, we invest the equivalent of about a billion dollars in artificial intelligence technologies. We get back about 3 billion dollars a year.
Vladimir Putin: That is on a grand scale, so every effort aimed at achieving specific goals in this area must definitely be supported. I am sure that Mr Gref will support it as well.
Yegor Sechinsky: Thank you very much.
Vladimir Putin: This is our future. We are well aware of this: this is the future, absolutely. In terms of importance for the country – for any country – this is no less significant than the Soviet nuclear or missile projects in the mid-1940s and 1950s.
So, Mr Gref, please pay attention to this, all right?
Alexander Lyubimov: Mr President.
My name is Alexander Lyubimov; I am from St Petersburg. I am a super finalist at the Leaders of Russia fourth season competition.
I am here today because of three major events in my life. The first event took place in May 2014. My friends and I set up a volunteer organisation under the title “Coordination Centre for Assistance to Novorossiya.” We started helping those who were fighting, who were defending Donbass and have continued doing this since then.
The second event happened in 2021, when I was admitted to the competition, and this was my third attempt to take part in it before I achieved success. Thanks to the competition, I got to know many very smart, energetic and patriotic people.
The third event occurred with the beginning of the special military operation. We were supposed to sharply build up our activities and we did. This was possible largely because I could involve my friends and colleagues from the competition in my activities.
In general, participation in the competition and my activities have taught me that victory thrives on preparations and long-term efforts. This conviction produced results.
First example. As early as 2017, we started sending drones to the front and even producing them there. Owing to this, we were the first volunteer group last spring to launch massive training of UAV operators. As of today, we have trained over 900 specialists.
The second breakthrough took place when we were, probably also the first among volunteers, to buy large drones that can fly 50–80 km. We also started training operators for them. In fact, this is happening right now, this very minute.
Third, there are events in which we take part or that we hold. Thus, in late July, we will participate in the Archipelago-2035 event in Novosibirsk, where we will demonstrate our skills in training people. The most important event for me is Dronnitsa that we will hold in Veliky Novgorod and Demyansk in late August with support from the Novgorod Governor. This is a meeting of combat drone operators. We want these specialists to meet each other, exchange experience, and also we’d like to demonstrate to them the drones produced by volunteers – who and what exactly is producing today. It will be a kind of volunteer achievement exhibition, if I may say so.
Today, I have the grounds to say that we are capable of long and determined efforts for the sake of victory. Most importantly, we are ready to do as much as is necessary.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much for working in what is one of the main areas. This is obvious. Drones are very important in all civilian environments as well, but now they are primarily vital in the military sphere.
There are many developments and ideas. There are also proposals on how to better organise this work by creating uniform centres and looking into the future. It is important to decide how to change the situation related to legal regulation and how to remove the obstacles in the way of development. Today, this is crucial and timely at the same time.
I wish you success in everything. If we can help you in any way, we will be pleased to do so. All the best to you.
Vladimir Putin: Now I would like to address members of the Supervisory Board. Colleagues, do you have any ideas or comments on how the work has been organised or what needs to be done for it to be organised even better? Over to you, please.
Member of the Supervisory Board of the Russia – Land of Opportunity autonomous non-profit organisation and acting Governor of the Krasnoyarsk Territory Mikhail Kotyukov: Mr President, colleagues, good afternoon,
During these five years, Russia – Land of Opportunity has done a great deal – many projects, many engaged and active people, and a well-appointed infrastructure. I would like to support what Vitaly Khotsenko and Ivan Safronov were saying and reinforce the work that is being done in the regions.
It is fine that there are regional stages, but, on the one hand, more finals can be held in the regions of the Russian Federation. For the future, we might think about having some joint events for the finalists from different projects – a festival or perhaps a rally of winners.
My third, practical proposal is that we could add to the “family” mentioned by Andrei Betin – Taurida, Mashuk, and Senezh – a centre that would promote work in Siberia, the Russian Far East, and the Ural region. What I mean is that we could have an Asian branch of the school of management, which would help boys and girls to improve their managerial skills and implement important projects on the spot without having to travel to Moscow.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you, Mr Kotyukov.
Alexei Komissarov: Thank you very much.
In fact, working in the regions is one of our top priorities. I would like to thank all Supervisory Board members and the governors for their support. We really feel that there is a lot of interest on the part of all officials in finding talent and promoting them.
As for a separate centre in Siberia, we will contact Mr Kotyukov. We might suggest some options borrowed from the existing branches of, for example, the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration. If the Supervisory Board adopts a corresponding decision, we will probably propose something additionally. We will study this matter.
Vladimir Putin: Please, colleagues, is there anything else? Is that all? Then we will wrap up the meeting, because I have another event to get to; our moderator has mentioned the work with the Government.
I want to thank you for what you have done. I want to express my hope and confidence that even more will be done later. I wish you the best of luck.