The President noted that industrial production and construction were growing in the region, that the unemployment rate was below the average for the country as a whole, and the budget situation had normalised. However, there were issues that required attention.
The Governor said that the people’s real disposable incomes were growing for the first time in years. The region reported a surplus budget, mostly thanks to exports, and the year was very good in terms of exports by leading manufacturers. The authorities are introducing a social contract mechanism. Over the past two years, some 12,000 social contracts have been signed, and 80 percent of them are seen as effective, that is, they have helped increase families’ incomes. This exceeds the national average and is a major step towards improving people’s quality of life.
Andrei Nikitin, who was appointed Novgorod Region Governor in 2017, added that the number of students at Novgorod State University had increased from 7,000 to nearly 13,000, and this figure included not only local residents but also young people from other regions. The number of students at vocational training schools had increased from 8,000 to 15,000. In the past, only local residents studied at these higher educational institutions, but today they attract students from 30 regions. The Governor pointed out that this makes it possible to envisage the development of modern industries and that the authorities are already preparing to meet the challenge of providing housing for young people.
According to the Governor, the region has risen from 41st place to 8th in the Education Ministry’s ranking of the quality of education. The region’s colleges have risen from 42nd to 13th place in the WorldSkills ranking. As for Olympiads, the region’s representatives started from scratch and today, some 1,500–2,000 Novgorodians take part in various Olympiads. This creates a foundation for the future, for growth and development.
The governor thanked the President for supporting the development of a special economic zone and an innovative valley. The economic zone was launched last August. Eight investors are already starting to build their production facilities.
The governor and the President also discussed the general quality of life and the effectiveness of improvements. The share of well-maintained roads in the region has increased from 28 to almost 50 percent. The governor said that road maintenance had been a long-term issue for the Novgorod Region. It is not completely resolved but local residents are already noticing changes. As a result of all these general improvements, Andrei Nikitin believes that, for the first time in decades, people have actually started moving to the region, especially young people, students and young professionals.
Healthcare remains a complicated issue that requires serious efforts. The Novgorod Region has always lagged behind many other regions when it comes to public healthcare. Some progress was achieved but the Covid-19 pandemic substantially worsened the picture. However, the mortality rate among the able-bodied population in the region has decreased and continues to decline. Primary care development efforts should also have a certain impact.
Andrei Nikitin reported on efforts to preserve historical memory, specifically, in connection with the federal programme aimed at restoring military graves. The number of school students involved in patriotic projects has doubled. There are patriotic groups in every school. A memorial called Zhestyanaya Gorka was built as per the President’s instruction. It is the first memorial to the civilians killed by Nazis during the Great Patriotic War. The first trial that recognised the act of genocide against the peoples of the Soviet Union was held in the Batetsky District of the Novgorod Region.
The governor also reported that, in accordance with his earlier promise to the President, the Church of the Life-Giving Trinity had been restored in Sopiny. The construction of the church was funded by the outstanding 18th century Russian military commander Alexander Suvorov. The church was finished after Suvorov’s death. For many years, the church was dilapidated but today it is once again a fine and beautiful place of worship.