President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Kozhemyako, the theme of our meeting is customary – the socioeconomic situation on Sakhalin.
On the whole, the situation is known and everywhere there are problems that need to be solved and require special attention from the leadership of the country and the region. But on the whole, the situation on Sakhalin is good and contrasts favourably with many other regions in the Russian Federation, including those in the Far East.
Nevertheless, there are still problems, so let us discuss them today.
Oleg Kozhemyako: All right.
Correct, Mr President, our population is growing. I reported on the socioeconomic situation at the meeting of the State Council Presidium in Vladivostok.
I would like to report briefly on the federal targeted programme for the development of the Kuril Islands. As you know, it was re-endorsed for 2016–2025, with allocations of some 72 billion rubles. The programme is being carried out according to plan.
Some 20.3 billion rubles have been spent to date: 8.7 billion from the regional budget and 2.6 from the federal budget. These funds were spent on laying optical fibre. Rostelecom will finish this job in the end of this year. It has made a commitment to this. Some funds came from investors. We are building fish processing plants on Shikotan. One will be put into operation in October and the other, next year.
So, it is necessary to build housing for workers as well as social infrastructure, kindergartens and roads.
In addition, when we met with you, you supported the idea of transferring the village of Gornoye on the Kuril Islands and the construction of a motor road to the village of Goryachiye Klyuchi, as well as the building of social infrastructure facilities.
Now it is necessary to slightly change the federal targeted programme for the development of the Kuril Islands, which should be expanded so that we meet all the wishes of the population and resolve the problems that have now arisen.
It would be good to bring this programme up to date and then, with your approval, I could complete it in cooperation with the Government.
I believe this would provide people with greater opportunities for improved living conditions, guaranteed jobs and a social infrastructure. I am referring to workers in the fish industry, public-sector employees and the military. This would have a beneficial effect on the development of all the Kurile Islands.
Vladimir Putin: All right. Let us talk about this in more detail a bit later.
Oleg Kozhemyako: Mr President, when I attended the forum in Vladivostok, as a person who was born, grew up and started working in the Primorye Territory, I naturally looked at the situation that has taken shape there – it is not very good.
Vladimir Putin: What do you mean?
Oleg Kozhemyako: I mean the situation linked with the elections.
Vladimir Putin: Why is it not good? The situation is normal.
Oleg Kozhemyako: The situation is normal. But on the whole the Primorye Territory has enormous potential. It is the most densely populated region in the Far East. Naturally, it has its economy, the fisheries industry and developed agriculture. It is also part of the strategic location of the Far East as regards the countries of the Asia-Pacific Region.
Vladimir Putin: Of course, this is a key territory.
Oleg Kozhemyako: Yes, and of course, much was done in preparation for the APEC forum in 2012. Vladivostok and its nearest surroundings have changed beyond recognition.
The population has great expectations, expectations of change for the better. Realising this situation and its economic component, and having certain experience of work in the regions, I would like to reach agreement with you on one particular issue, considering that I am now the serving Governor of Sakhalin. I am referring to an opportunity to take part in the election of the governor of the Primorye Territory in order to justify the expectations of the residents and tailor the dynamics of development to the tasks that are now facing the Far East.
I am obviously referring to the implementation of the executive orders that concern all areas of activity. Of course, this will require joint efforts by federal government agencies, alongside your support, and the desire of the population to improve their living standards, change for the better. Therefore, I would like to coordinate such decisions with you.
Vladimir Putin: In other words, if I have understood you correctly, you want to take part in the election of the governor of the Primorye Territory?
Oleg Kozhemyako: Yes, Mr President.
Vladimir Putin: All right.
Oleg Kozhemyako: I am from there, that’s why.
Vladimir Putin: Were you born there?
Oleg Kozhemyako: I was born, grew up, studied and worked there. It is where I took my first steps – I was a deputy and Federation Council member from this region – so I know the area.
Vladimir Putin: You were a member of the Federation Council from the Primorye Territory.
Oleg Kozhemyako: Yes.
Vladimir Putin: I see. So it is home to you.
Oleg Kozhemyako: I remain in touch with classmates, people I went to school with, played sports and worked with.
In other words, for me the situation has been, well, not to say alarming but I believe I have a lot of experience, knowledge and strengths I can bring to the work, though I will need some support, of course.
Vladimir Putin: Are you eager to return home?
Oleg Kozhemyako: In general, yes.
Vladimir Putin: Mr Kozhemyako, you really have a wealth of positive experience. You were in charge of the Koryak area on Kamchatka, then served successfully as Governor of the Amur Region and for several years, three years, you have been working on Sakhalin where you have finished each year with good numbers.
Well, if you want to try your hand at a big job, Primorye certainly is that. No doubt, the Primorye Territory is a very promising region that is strategically important for Russia.
You know how much we have been doing recently to maintain production at a proper level, and create comfortable conditions for people there. This concerns electricity rates in many regions of the Far East, as well as other key areas of activities: infrastructure, education, healthcare. Needless to say, there are many problems there that require special attention considering the importance of this territory.
I do not object. Go ahead, please. But there is one circumstance that we should consider: the election is in two months …
Oleg Kozhemyako: Very little time.
Vladimir Putin: Yes, but the point is that such an important region as the Primorye Territory cannot remain without a governor. Acting Governor Tarasenko has already asked for another job, and it is clear why. It is impossible to leave such a vital region as the Primorye Territory without a governor for a single day, not to mention two months.
Therefore it will be necessary to make administrative decisions on the governors of Sakhalin, the Sakhalin Region and the Primorye Territory. If this is your final decision, I should appoint you Acting Governor of the Primorye Territory and also make decisions regarding Sakhalin. Is it your final decision?
Oleg Kozhemyako: I am ready. It is a decision I have considered carefully, and I realise that a lot of work lies ahead and that I must justify the expectations of people who are eager to see changes for the better. But I am ready nonetheless.
Vladimir Putin: All right. I wish you luck.
Oleg Kozhemyako: Thank you.