The President announced that he will sign an Executive Order appointing Sergei Menyailo Acting Governor of Sevastopol.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Chaly, Sevastopol has basically adopted the Charter – essentially, the Constitution – of a Federal Constituent Entity. And now, we need to organise the government agencies in accordance with the Russian law. I know that you have some suggestions.
Acting Governor of Sevastopol Alexei Chaly: I do have some suggestions. Clearly, any city, any region, must work to simultaneously address two challenges: the challenge of housing provision and the strategic challenge of future development. Often, this is managed by a single operation centre.
Today, the situation in Sevastopol is special. In essence, for the past 23 years the city did not develop as the main base of the Navy; you know this just as well as I do. In fact, development was blocked. Now the situation has reached a critical level. So I feel that in these circumstances, it would be appropriate to divide these functions.
It is clear that the city needs to be developed. Various investors will bring strategic projects. It is essential to coordinate these processes so that we do not receive a set of expensive patches, but rather, a place we can be proud of. I would very much like to see that.
If we approach it that way, I think that it would be expedient to create a special agency; it could be called the Agency for Strategic Development or something else, and it would be responsible for coordinating such projects.
Based on my own mind-set, resources, experience and some preliminary preparations that have been done in this area, I see my place more within that agency than in the current government running the city’s day-to-day functions. So if you approve, I see myself more in that field.
Vladimir Putin: In other words, you are not a bureaucrat; you are a revolutionary.
Alexei Chaly: Not so. The revolution is over. In this case, we don’t have time for revolutions. I am talking about the city’s strategic development. I will repeat, if this process in the city is not managed, I am afraid we will end up with something that responds to the interests of only certain departments, and there will be a checkmark on the report, but our children will not be proud of us. Whereas I would like that to be the case in Sevastopol. We did not start this revolution for nothing. The revolution is over, and now we are dealing with a different set of issues. So, if you allow, I will continue.
Vladimir Putin: Please, go ahead.
Alexei Chaly: If we look at the situation from this perspective, then as an honest person, I must say: who will carry the weight of today’s challenges, the challenges that are still there? Clearly, we will have a difficult, complicated transition period.
I have not come here alone; I came with a man that I feel could be effectually appointed to this position. Sergei Menyailo is a man with an impeccable reputation in military management, a reserve vice-admiral, whose last position was deputy commander of the Black Sea Fleet.
Currently, he manages all of Crimea’s ports, and in this difficult time he has proven himself a very successful crisis manager. He was with us during the first days of the revolution and he really helped in the formation of Sevastopol’s self-defence squads.
I feel that such a configuration for Sevastopol would currently be the best, at least for the transition period. So I would like to ask you to support both proposals: to create a corresponding agency and to appoint Mr Menyailo the Acting Governor.
Vladimir Putin: When did you leave the army?
Former Deputy Commander of the Black Sea Fleet, Reserve Vice-Admiral Sergei Menyailo: In spring 2012.
Vladimir Putin: Did you resign?
Sergei Menyailo: Yes, I left voluntarily. After that, all of my work has been related to the Navy and Sevastopol.
As Mr Chaly mentioned, I am now the head of the Crimean Sea Ports state enterprise, which acts as the business entity in the water zone of Crimea’s five ports.
Vladimir Putin: So you are quite familiar with economic problems – in Sevastopol and Crimea, and overall.
Sergei Menyailo: I am familiar with those problems. On the one hand, they lie on the surface, and on the other hand, they are deep inside, but they are clear. They are the high-priority challenges we face today.
The first is the fight against corruption and the arrangements we had before. The second is a speedy formation of all executive authority agencies, as well as other bodies.
Given that Sevastopol has the status of a federal constituent entity, we need to create self-sustained, baseline, essential structures with the Republic of Crimea, so that they do not replicate each other’s functions. And, of course, we must make them work effectively.
As Mr Chaly said, we simply need to bring basic, good, normal order to the city, so that Sevastopol becomes the Sevastopol we knew in our childhoods – a beautiful, dignified hero-city.
Vladimir Putin: Governing a federal constituent entity and a city is a different kind of work, requiring difficult day-to-day work that may initially seem boring: to support and develop the city’s economy, housing and utilities, electricity and water supplies, and improve the living standards in the city. All these matters are the governor’s responsibility.
Sergei Menyailo: In my view, the most important objective today is to implement a system and try to bring it to a working condition while defusing social tensions. Naturally, the issues you just brought up are the most important.
Vladimir Putin: As I said, you must also align with the Russian legislation in terms of holding an election. What proposals do you have?
Alexei Chaly: We now need to adopt a law on elections, that’s clear. We used the St Petersburg Charter as a foundation for our own, and I think that we could use St Petersburg’s electoral laws as well.
Vladimir Putin: And also hold elections in September of this year?
Alexei Chaly: This is, in my view, an essential question, because the Charter was adopted on Friday, and we simultaneously approved a petition to you from the Legislative Assembly deputies concerning amendments to the Federal Law on holding elections in September 2014. Gubernatorial elections will then follow.
In my view, we cannot stretch out the formation of the executive authorities and all branches of government in accordance with the Constitution into a year-and-a-half-long process. The situation is changing so rapidly that we must do it this year. So I am asking you to also support this petition.
Vladimir Putin: Very well, that is what we will do; we will certainly support it. Of course, Sevastopol must prepare for the election. September 14 is Russia’s nationwide voting day. You will need to do the necessary work by that time.
Naturally, I also support your suggestion about creating a strategic development agency for the city. Of course, it must be more far-reaching than Sevastopol alone, but there is much work to be done in Sevastopol as well.
You will need to write out the statutory documents so that they complement the city administration, so you have a large number of development instruments in your hands – flexible, joint, and market-based – in order for the city administration to complement the agency and for the agency to complement the administration. We have this kind of experience – positive experience – in Russia.
Alexei Chaly: I know, which is why I looked at the experience in various regions to see which would work for our situation, as I see it.
Vladimir Putin: Very well, I agree with your suggestion. I will sign the executive order today to appoint Mr Menyailo as Acting Governor of Sevastopol. I want to wish you success.
Sergei Menyailo: Thank you, Mr President. I understand the degree of responsibility you are entrusting to me and the level of trust. I will do everything to justify it. I believe we will win and everything will turn out well.
Vladimir Putin: Very well, everything will work out.