President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Congratulations on this event.
Alisa Shmelyova, metrology engineer: Mr President, I would like to thank you for your contribution to the development of our native Crimea, for the trust you have shown for our plant. And in turn, let me ask you some questions.
Vladimir Putin: Okay.
Alisa Shmelyova: What state measures are planned to support civil shipbuilding, including Crimean enterprises?
Vladimir Putin: Was it your director who suggested this question? (Laughter).
Actually, our plan to support shipbuilding has been developed for some time, and is being implemented pretty efficiently. First, it includes subsidies for interest rates on loans and lease contracts. I may be mistaken, but this year, some 3.8 billion rubles have been allocated for this, and the same amount is planned for 2021 and 2022. This support will continue.
Second, concessional lease contracts. Here, 27 billion rubles have been allocated and spent. In 2021, 5 billion will be provided, and in 2022 the state’s contribution to the United Shipbuilding Corporation will be another 5 billion.
Another support measure is payments from the so-called scrappage grant. When a ship owner decommissions an old ship, they receive a certain payment. We have already spent some 1 billion rubles to that end; 500 million will be allocated this year and the same amount in the next two years.
As for Crimea, this year we will offer a special support measure. This is because expenses here are higher than those at other Russian shipyards. We decided to subsidise 30 percent of the ship’s cost for those owners who place orders with Crimean Shipyards for their next vessels, including small and medium sized ships, as well as vessels for the fishing fleet.
This is not all; the Government is constantly thinking about what else would be helpful. We will continue doing so.
Alisa Shmelyova: Thank you.
Konstantin Fokin, ship cutter, special structures and devices shop: Mr President, it cannot go unmentioned that a keel-laying ceremony for ships of this size is a real red-letter day for our shipyard. We have not seen anything like this since the disintegration of the USSR.
Vladimir Putin: Your director tells me this is the tenth ship.
Zaliv Shipyard General Director Igor Obrubov: We have laid the keel for the tenth ship in our shipyard’s new history.
Konstantin Fokin: Does the government have plans to continue building these ships?
Vladimir Putin: You know, these are the first ships based on an upgraded design. We have, therefore, envisaged a programme for additional design work; we will be studying their performance. So, yes, we are planning to do this – following practical trials.
They are good and modern ships. We are also thinking – I do not know whether the minister can hear me now out there in St Petersburg – we have also planned some minor changes in order to use them in other roles. Practically the same thing, but for other purposes. I will not expand on that now.
Konstantin Fokin: Thank you, Mr President.
Yury Kulinkov, ship fitter, mechanical adjustment shop: Mr President, a lot of investment will be needed to rebuild the production capacity destroyed in the Ukrainian period.
Vladimir Putin: It was not exactly destroyed, it was just not developed. When we had normal relations, I talked to our colleagues, including those in Ukraine’s government; I talked at length with the last prime minister, when he was in office. I asked: “What are you doing? Why are you draining money from Crimea?” He replied: “We have no choice. Crimea is generating at least something; we have to take more from them than we give in exchange to support other regions in Ukraine.” They were forced to do this, not because they were working against Crimea on purpose. They just had to do that because of the difficult economic situation. Everything was gradually falling into decay, that is true, but this was not done on purpose.
Yury Kulinkov: Will the state support Crimea’s privately-owned defence industry companies?
Vladimir Putin: Clearly, we are trying to load the defence industry with work. I am not sure I can come up with exact numbers for every company now, but the defence order in Crimea is quite large, in general. With regard to our general policy to support this industry, we are doing it as part of the state programme for expanding the defence industry. We developed this programme some time ago in order to give a timely start to re-equipping the army and the navy with new weapons systems. To produce it, we need modern, high-quality and world-class equipment. We started this work 10 years ago. In general, I must say that we started this at a good time, because we have managed to largely re-equip the production base. To reiterate, this is being done as part of the state programme to re-equip the defence industry.
True, private companies are facing issues. What are these issues about? If the state invests a certain amount of money in a private enterprise, then, of course, it wants to have a piece of interest in that company, otherwise it is just a gift from the state to a private owner.
Some owners are fine with that arrangement and take the deal in order to improve their company’s capacity. Occasionally, they even go as far as letting the state have the controlling interest. This is just a requirement.
There is another means of supporting private companies and another tool – the Industrial Development Fund which issues loans at a very low interest rate, just 1 percent. Of course, we are constantly thinking about other ways to provide support. We will definitely load Crimea's companies with state orders.
Yury Kulinkov: Thank you.
Sergey Vodnev, testing department control foreman: Mr President, many countries, including our neighbours in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, not to mention the United States, are seeing a soaring coronavirus caseload. What about our country and what do you think about the fact that the Immortal Regiment march has been postponed to a later date?
Vladimir Putin: As you are aware, we have postponed the Victory Parade and the vote on amendments to the Constitution as well. We did this on purpose, because these things cannot be held at any cost, at the cost of our people’s health and lives.
Indeed, we are seeing a surge in the epidemic in many other countries. It is true. Here is the situation in our country. Basically, what I will say is known, but I will just revisit certain points.
We are not the world’s largest country in terms of population. China, for instance, has 1.5 billion people and India 1.3 billion people, and there are other countries with larger population numbers. We have 146 million people in our country, which makes Russia the largest European country in population, not to mention area, which is the world’s largest, but Europe’s largest in terms of population.
So, if you look at the average numbers globally and in Europe, you will see that the number of cases per population in our country is approximately the same as elsewhere and stands at 0.5 percent of the population. The number of new cases is decreasing and the number of recovered patients is increasing. The number of those who have recovered is significantly greater than the number of those who fell ill.
Finally, mortality. This is one of the key performance indicators of the healthcare system and the state as such. You can think what you want about the statistics, but numbers are still numbers. In countries with well-developed healthcare systems like the rich European countries, the mortality rate is 8, 10, 11, 13, in some countries over 15 percent. Belgium and Great Britain are over 15 percent. We have a 1.5 percent mortality rate. Again, you can think what you want about the statistics, trust it or not, but, clearly, the mortality rate in Russia is lower by an order of magnitude.
Why is that? First, because of the healthcare system’s flexibility, the level of specialist training and the state’s ability to mobilise its resources when needed. There are other factors as well, but this is what we actually have.
In general, as I mentioned earlier, we are dealing with this challenging chapter in our life with minimal losses. But they still exist, and the threat remains.
We organised several large events. As I said, the Victory Parade was postponed and held later. Then there was the nationwide vote on the constitutional amendments. Neither of these resulted in new outbreaks. On the contrary, the situation is improving day by day. Why? Because we strictly complied with the requirements of the sanitary doctors, our scientists, experts and, by the way, the World Health Organisation that suggests that the scope of testing be increased. We have already tested 23.5 million people, which allows us to identify patients and promptly take them from the population for treatment, self-isolation and so on.
But why did major events like the Victory Parade and the vote not result in more cases? As for the Victory Parade, you probably know that military personnel are already in literal isolation living in barracks or similar conditions. If a person got sick, he or she was immediately removed. Continuous testing and treatment was available. The military medicine demonstrated great performance.
As far as the vote is concerned, all sanitary requirements were also observed, including new modern voting systems, personal protection equipment and social distancing.
Regarding the Immortal Regiment, this is no case for social distancing.
Sergey Vodnev: Of course.
Vladimir Putin: The whole purpose of the event is for the Russian nation to demonstrate its unity and remembrance of our fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers. What does this imply? It implies that people march…
Remark: Side by side.
Vladimir Putin: Exactly.
I proposed moving the Immortal Regiment to Navy Day, which is another big upcoming holiday. We will continue to consult with experts and scientists until the last minute. I even arranged my schedule to make it possible to attend the parade in St Petersburg and fly back to march alongside people on Red Square. But the experts and doctors did not recommend holding the march.
So, as much as we want it to happen, we will have to postpone the march until next year. It will be a grand, beautiful and powerful event. We will make it beautiful the way we can and the way we have always done it.
Sergey Vodnev: Thank you.
Alisa Shmelyova: Mr President, can we take a picture with you?
Vladimir Putin: With pleasure.