Attended by the governors of 12 northwest Russian regions, the meeting focused on regional social and economic development issues, in particular, modernising the industrial and transport infrastructure.
Mr Putin encouraged the governors to diversify the export structure by reducing the share of raw materials and increasing that of processed products. Russia must not become a raw material appendage for its industrially developed neighbours, he stressed.
As for the energy industry, he advised the governors to consider the prospects for greater use of coal, and stressed the need to be more thrifty in gas exports.
Next issue on the agenda was the Russian agro-industrial complex and measures to promote it. The acting president said Russian farmers needed import duties on agricultural products to protect their interests. The government intended to hold a large conference in one of Russian regions devoted to the discussion of national agro-industrial development. In particular, the agenda was to include plans for setting up an agricultural bank.
The Association Council made a joint statement to support Mr Putin’s presidential nomination. “The only right road for Russia is the consolidation of all political forces that care about the destiny of this country. They must unite for the benefit our people,” the document says.
In reply, Mr Putin thanked everyone present for the confidence in him they had expressed, and pointed out that the Petrozavodsk meeting had not been timed to any political event.