Calls from the republic’s residents that came in to the head of state during Direct Line were discussed.
* * *
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Parfenchikov, how long have you been working in the republic?
Acting Head of the Republic of Karelia Artur Parfenchikov: Five months.
Vladimir Putin: This is a very short time of course, but nevertheless, you are now responsible for the republic. So we will begin with the traditional folder that I hand over to the heads of regions during our meetings, asking them to pay attention to the questions that citizens raised during what is known as my televised Direct Line.
The questions are traditional but analysis of what came in to Direct Line shows that unsafe housing is one of the most sensitive issues. I will not enumerate everything here although I feel like using some of the quotes. But bearing in mind that you have been on the job for only five months, there are of course no questions for you. I am simply drawing your attention to these problem areas.
With regard to housing: subsidies for young families. One of the callers is right. Young families are entitled to subsidies until age 35. They have to wait for subsidies for several years and if the situation continues at this rate, they will soon be 35 and will no longer qualify for subsidies.
Another problem is the availability of medical care, especially in small towns. Yes, some changes are taking place in the healthcare system, but these changes must not lead to a situation where small towns, far away from large centres, are left with no medical care at all. Take the town of Kem: “There are no general practitioners or surgeons here, no pediatric, maternity or infections departments; [we] have to travel 250 kilometres. I phoned the Finance Ministry and was told that everything is all right.” This is not all right. Please pay attention to this.
Now small towns and single-industry towns – Medvezhyegorsk, Nadvoitsy, Belomorsk and Kondopoga – the problem there is saving jobs. These problems are most likely of a systematic nature and cannot be resolved at one fell swoop. They also require attention.
Wage arrears – this is also strange. I believe the Kostomuksha plant is doing okay. Look into what is happening with regard to wages there.
Artur Parfenchikov: Yes, of course.
Vladimir Putin: And there is another serious problem – I believe it is highly relevant for Karelia – forest cutting. People are paying attention to this: “The loggers are acting like predators. Logging sites are not cleared for years. The territory’s rich forests and its export potential have absolutely no impact on living standards.” This goes to show that the work in this area is not organised as it should be.
The Russian Popular Front has now put environmental problems and logging in particular on its watch list. You can work with them directly. It will not be easy for you to deal with this even with your official status. However, it is one of the problems that needs to be addressed.
I am handing this over to you and hope that you will duly respond to it.
Here you are.
Artur Parfenchikov: Thank you.
Naturally, citizens make these problems known to me as head of the region, and I make a point of visiting all districts, all towns, to the greatest extent possible.
We regularly, systematically hold unified public reception days. The last was on July 8 in Loukha and Kem, and in fact, I also went to healthcare facilities.
We have set up communication channels in all possible formats, including on social media. These channels are open and I can be directly accessed everywhere. All of this information comes in, we analyse it, naturally, and we are currently working on all these problem areas.
Indeed, the situation with unsafe housing is complicated. We uncovered a new problem in February. The fact is that almost 23,000 square metres of housing, which was deemed unsafe before 2012, was not included in the programme. We immediately got down to work.
Vladimir Putin: Why did this happen?
Artur Parfenchikov: A mistake by government officials – there is no other explanation. They simply overlooked these thousands of metres. Thank you very much for extending the programme for another year. We are doing our best. First, we will not be able to finish the construction project by September 1 with the housing construction funds that we received. At this point we have completed only 52 percent, because we believe that quality is of paramount importance. However, we will try to finish it – have it accepted by supervisory agencies – and resettle people before the year ends. Nevertheless, these 23,000 square metres are still there. We are working with the fund. We still hope that we will resolve the 23,000 problem in 2019. We understand the complexity of the situation but we are doing all we can.
Vladimir Putin: If you need help including these unlisted square metres [into the programme] let me know – I will talk to the Government.
Artur Parfenchikov: Good, thank you very much.
Regarding medical care, we understand the task. We have intensified our efforts to build outpatient and obstetric facilities. Naturally, there are quite a few healthcare issues that we are currently discussing with the Government and on which I would like to have your support. There are a lot of questions from people regarding cancer treatment and there are also questions related to cancer treatment options at the local level and our outpatient hospital, which is very old, built in the 1960s. It simply falls short of any standards.
Of course, we will definitely revisit these problems, analyse the complaints, get down to work and resolve these problems.
Vladimir Putin: Good.