President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Khotsenko, good afternoon.
Vitaly Khotsenko: Good afternoon, Mr President.
Vladimir Putin: Mr Khotsenko, I would like to begin our meeting by talking about your current work. And I would like to ask you a completely, I believe, understandable and natural question: what do you make of the current economic situation in the Donetsk People’s Republic?
Vitaly Khotsenko: Mr President,
Firstly, I have been working in the Donetsk People’s Republic for ten months now. I agreed the moment I received the offer, because this is my home; I was born not far from there, in Dnepropetrovsk, where my grandparents are buried.
Speaking of the economy, much is being done, including in cooperation with the Presidential Executive Office and the Russian Government. Many facilities are being restored by the regions assisting us, not only in Mariupol, where you recently visited, but in all cities, despite the shelling and ongoing hostilities. My thanks to the regions providing assistance: everyone is helping.
We are also paying compensation.
We have formed a management team in the region together with the head of the Donetsk People’s Republic and federal executive authorities, a team with people from all over Russia as well as locals.
So much has been done, and much more remains to be done.
In line with your instructions, we have developed a socioeconomic development programme for the Donetsk People’s Republic until 2030. We hope it will be adopted in the very near future.
There is an unprecedented number of tasks there, and the funding to address them has been earmarked.
Vladimir Putin: So now you see it as a working and stable situation, don’t you?
Vitaly Khotsenko: It is absolutely a working situation, yes.
And thank you for your individual decisions, thank you from the doctors and from mothers-to-be: the perinatal centre in Donetsk is being built at a fast pace. And most importantly, Mr President, the water pipeline, which, according to your decision, we are building from the Don, will reach Donetsk in the near future, and one of the most basic problems will be largely solved: we will provide water not for two hours every three days, but every day to the population of the Donetsk People’s Republic.
The situation is improving.
Vladimir Putin: When do you plan to put the water pipeline into operation?
Vitaly Khotsenko: According to the plan of the Defence Ministry – a military construction company is working there as a contractor – we expect to open the pipeline and launch the system in April, and to start supplying water to the Seversky Donets-Donbass canal and further to the cities of Donetsk, Makeyevka and Gorlovka.
Vladimir Putin: The head of the republic and I will discuss some issues in detail at the next meeting (it will take place soon).
I would just like to clarify: do you remember how many beds the perinatal centre has?
Vitaly Khotsenko: 140, Mr President.
This is a Tula project that you supported. A good project, it suits us well. And, as Mr Khusnullin reported to you, by the end of the year… The pace is mind-blowing. They promise this facility will be completed by the end of the year, even earlier.
Vladimir Putin: Excellent.
Mr Khotsenko, you have worked in the north for almost five years, and in this regard, you understand the problems of Siberia, you care about them. What do you think of my proposal?
Vitaly Khotsenko: Of course, this proposal is a great honour for me. I will make every effort to meet your high expectations and those of the residents in the region that I have heard about. Of course, I will do my best to make people’s lives better and meet your expectations. There is a lot of work, but we are not afraid of it.
Vladimir Putin: I see. Mr Khotsenko, look, you just said you were born in Dnepropetrovsk. You have been serving as Prime Minister of the Donetsk People's Republic, and you are doing a good job overall. There are many problems there, but you are not intimidated by these problems; you are tackling them. As I said, you served in the north of Russia before, and in the Government of the Russian Federation.
From that experience, you certainly have a good idea of how people live in Siberia and the Omsk Region. It is very important to us, very important. I will not list every aspect that you should pay attention to now because I am sure you have reviewed them. I know that you have done this, including with the Presidential Executive Office. We will meet again, of course, to discuss all these issues in detail.
I must say that in terms of its climate, the Omsk Region is one of the most suitable for living. But when it comes to economic development and social issues, much still needs to be done there to ensure that the local residents live the life they deserve.
There are still many unresolved issues there. I ask you to analyse everything again and discuss it with your colleagues, both with those who are currently working there and others who will join your team. You certainly need to primarily rely on people who are well aware of the region’s problems, who have been working there, and have proven themselves. After that, we will meet again and discuss in detail everything that needs to be done to support you in this new position.
I want to wish you all the very best.
Vitaly Khotsenko: Thank you, Mr President. I will do my best. Thank you for this opportunity to meet and share my vision for the region’s development.
I will certainly place special emphasis on supporting the fighters from the Omsk Region participating in the special military operation, and the families of the mobilised soldiers. I know how deeply you go into all these details.
And the Omsk Region will surely continue to support the town you have entrusted to our patronage, Stakhanov, in the Lugansk People's Republic.
Thank you for your trust.
Vladimir Putin: Good.
Best wishes. Good luck.