Vladimir Putin began the conversation by noting that gross regional product, agricultural production, retail trade and permanent population in the region were all growing. At the same time, unemployment is a bit lower than the national average and the region is doing fairly well on housing and utilities. However, problems remain, and this is where the President directed the discussion.
Anton Alikhanov reported that in the last few years, the Kaliningrad Region has created conditions for accelerated industrial and agricultural development and increased revenues for the region owing to the President’s support and the laws passed to create a special economic zone and a special administrative district there. In the past five years, its GRP grew by 12 percent, investment in processing industries was nearly 33.5 billion rubles and about 22,000 jobs were created at large and medium-size enterprises.
In cooperation with large energy companies, the Rosatom State Corporation and Hevel Group, the region is implementing two major innovative projects in new energy, as it is called. This includes an industrial complex to manufacture solar energy equipment, and the production of lithium-ion batteries. Small businesses account for a third of the economy and the dynamics here are positive. The number of people employed by small businesses went up by 11 percent or 220,000 people in the past year.
In the past five years, the region increased cropland by 20 percent and invested about 32 billion rubles in livestock production. It created a unique genetic selection centre for dairy cattle breeding and is now supplying other regions of Russia with its genetic products. In the next few years, similar complexes will be established in poultry and pig farming with a view to ending dependence on imports.
The Governor said that the region’s own consolidated budget revenues have increased by 73 percent compared to 2017. It is building schools, kindergartens, hospitals and outpatient clinics. Last year, it opened 1,300 square metres of housing. The region continues building cultural and educational centres on Oktyabrsky Island.
The President and the Governor also discussed the situation in the construction industry and the building of gas infrastructure.
The President noted that only half of the coastal fishing quotas were being used and asked for clarification. The Governor confirmed that this was a problem and said that a special regional programme had been adopted to speed up the construction of new vessels. The regional budget mostly covers the construction of small-sized vessels that are used in coastal fishing. The regional authorities hope that this will make it possible to regain high volumes of coastal catches of sprat, Baltic herring and other species. The President suggested joining the federal programme for the construction of fishing vessels of various classes. This work, he said, was underway in many regions, including European Russia and the Far Eastern Federal District, so efforts must be made to join in.
Vladimir Putin also asked a question about the road and rail complex on Vostochny Peninsula. This issue was mentioned in one of the letters submitted by the Governor. Anton Alikhanov explained that this concerned the Ust-Luga-Baltiysk railway ferry service, where four ferries are already operational. The maximum capacity on this rail ferry service is five ferries. Another ferry is being built at the instruction of the President and will be in service in the third quarter, which will top off the rail ferry service’s capacity. Considering the potential for negative or aggressive actions on the part of the Kaliningrad Region’s neighbours or attempts to block transit through their territory, the Governor said it was necessary to expand the railway ferry crossing’s capacity so that the region can function even in case transit across Lithuania is cut off completely. The Governor asked the President to issue a directive to this effect.
Another request by the Governor concerned Baltic Fleet servicemen and their families not getting refunds for air tickets to vacation destinations and back home. Their only option is to travel by air, which represents a financial strain for many of them. Anton Alikhanov asked the President to look into the possibility of granting the military who serve under contract in the region and their families the right to travel free of charge to vacation spots and back home noting that this is practiced in the Northern Fleet and the Pacific Fleet. The President agreed that this matter must be resolved.
Vladimir Putin noted all the good work done in the region, thanked the Governor for his efforts, and wished him every success in the future.