Andrei Nikitin briefly described the results of his work during his five years as Governor. The budget has almost doubled; production growth rates are strong; and the region was second in Russia in average salary growth rates in 2021. The share of quality roads increased from 26 percent to 48 percent. In addition to federal programmes, the region drafted several regional programmes for supporting businesses. Those who are prepared to purchase equipment and deal with import substitution are given subsidised loans at 2 or 3 percent interest. The budget remains socially oriented.
The Governor spoke separately about assistance for the sponsored territory – the Vasilyevsky District of the Zaporozhye Region. It received assistance to resolve its key problems – preparations for the autumn-winter season, restoring the operation of the housing and utility systems, and the start of training at schools and kindergartens. More than 200 million rubles worth of humanitarian aid was allocated to this district: plumbing, glazing and school equipment. By way of assistance, municipal workers were invited to teach how to work with the Russian budget, how to become involved in national projects and take part in different programmes.
Returning to regional issues, Andrei Nikitin told the President about the construction of and major repairs at the Valdai Central District Hospital for which the region’s experts are drafting plans for comprehensive improvement in cooperation with Moscow.
A sore point was also discussed – the condition of cultural heritage landmarks in the region with rich history, most of which belong to foreign owners. In the 1990s, citizens of Latvia and other states bought them, but they are not doing anything with them. The President said that it is necessary to set deadlines for putting these properties in order and then to confiscate them if this is not done. Andrei Nikitin said that the mechanism for confiscation is now being discussed with lawyers. Vladimir Putin said that if the legal framework is inadequate, it must be upgraded, and he advised the Governor to make the relevant proposals.
Regarding sports development, Mr Nikitin talked about the construction of a modern water sports facility with Gazprom’s assistance. It will accommodate water polo, everything for water gymnastics and a variable depth pool. In this case it will be possible to hold Olympic class competitions there.
Gazprom also included the region in its ‘Gazprom for Children’ programme, and modern children’s playgrounds have started to appear in all districts. The region is building physical fitness and sports facilities together with Gazprom. In addition, in the next five years, with maximum assistance from the region, Gazprom plans to expand the gas infrastructure to as many facilities and homes as were covered in the last 50 years. These plans have already been included in the regional programmes.
The Governor mentioned that further road repairs are a challenge for the region. Its territory is covered with marshlands and water and many bridges need repairs. He also mentioned the problem of improving cities and reducing death rates. Some successes have been achieved, but they are not enough. It is necessary to resolve the problem of treating cardio-vascular diseases, especially for people in remote areas.
The discussion also touched on the issues of education, the need to attract young people and professionals to the region, to promote projects and development. Vladimir Putin praised the Governor for creating a good educational cluster in the Novgorod Region.