Taking part in the meeting were Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Anton Vaino, First Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Sergei Kiriyenko, Deputy Prime Minister – Chief of the Government Staff Dmitry Grigorenko, Deputy Prime Minister – Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov, Deputy Prime Minister – Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District Yury Trutnev, deputy prime ministers Viktoria Abramchenko, Tatyana Golikova, Alexei Overchuk and Marat Khusnullin, Presidential Aide Maxim Oreshkin, Economic Development Minister Maxim Reshetnikov and Finance Minister Anton Siluanov. The meeting was also attended by Minister for Civil Defence, Emergencies and Natural Disaster Relief Alexander Kurenkov, Minister of Agriculture Dmitry Patrushev, Minister of Science and Higher Education Valery Falkov, Minister for the Development of the Russian Far East and Arctic Alexei Chekunkov, Minister of Energy Nikolai Shulginov, heads of several Russian regions, Head of the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service Maxim Shaskolsky, First Deputy Minister of Transport Andrei Kostyuk, Head of the Federal State Statistics Service Sergei Galkin, Deputy Governor of the Central Bank Sergei Belov and Director General of the State Atomic Energy Corporation Rosatom Alexei Likhachev.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, good afternoon.
Today we will discuss ways to increase the availability of goods and services in the new regions of the Russian Federation.
However, as we usually do, let us first talk about the problems that are most urgent. One of them is, of course, fighting fires and floods.
Mr Kurenkov, what is the current situation across Russia and in the regions that have been struggling with this problem? Go ahead, please.
(In his report, Minister for Civil Defence, Emergencies and Natural Disaster Relief Alexander Kurenkov said wildfire season had begun in almost all regions of the Russian Federation, and he provided a detailed overview of the most impacted regions: the Sverdlovsk, Kurgan and the Tyumen regions in the Ural Federal District. The Minister visited the most affected regions. He listed the steps that were taken to localise and gain control of the wildfires and to provide comprehensive assistance to the affected population. According to Mr Kurenkov, the situation remains complicated. The Emergencies Ministry is focusing on protecting towns and villages from wildfires and is using the Ministry’s forces and means, including airmobile groups from neighbouring regions, units of rescue centres and aircraft, to address the situation. The Minister briefly reported on floods in ten regions. The Irkutsk Region was hit hardest, and the Minister will go there tomorrow as part of a task force to assess the situation and to monitor the social support measures for the impacted residents.
Kurgan Region Governor Vadim Shumkov, Sverdlovsk Region Governor Yevgeny Kuyvashev and Tyumen Region Governor Alexander Moor then reported on the situation in their respective regions.)
Vladimir Putin: I would like to follow up on what the Governor of the Kurgan Region, Mr Shumkov, said. He provided a detailed review of the situation and related issues. As I said earlier, we have been discussing these issues for some time now, some of them for the second and even third time. It is imperative to draft a list of instructions and revisit certain issues, such as the width of the firebreaks and so on.
I understand that there is always a conflict between the importance of preserving forests and ensuring their rational use, on the one hand, and of ensuring safety, on the other, which is understandable. But we must act based on the actual state of affairs, which tells us to make certain decisions now.
So, I think that based on the reports made by the Emergencies Minister and the Governor of the Kurgan Region, it is necessary to draft corresponding instructions. I would like our colleagues to draft these as soon as possible.
People should receive assistance, it’s obvious. The Minister’s proposals and the requests made by the governors should be taken into account when making immediate decisions right now. That’s settled.
Ms Abramchenko, we recently talked about the draft law the State Duma is now considering, on the system of extended producer responsibility for the disposal of packaging. I think 50 percent, half of our household waste is packaging. The current recycling rate is only 30 percent. By 2027, we need to reach 100 percent recycling rate, and from 2025, we must recycle at least 55 percent.
I would like you to say a few words on this matter, including about the consideration of this draft law.
Deputy Prime Minister Viktoria Abramchenko: Mr President, Mr Prime Minister, colleagues,
The Government is indeed continuing a consistent effort to reform the waste management industry. The institution of extended producer responsibility is a very important tool for achieving the national development goal to create a comfortable and safe environment for life. The idea of this move is to make it manufacturers’ and importers’ responsibility to dispose of their goods after they lose usability. To dispose means to recycle, that is, to give waste a second life, to extract useful fractions and put it back in use as part of a circular economy.
Our goal is to halve the volumes in landfills by 2030.
A law putting waste disposal obligations on businesses was adopted in late 2014, but unfortunately, the rules established by that law allowed unscrupulous market participants to evade their obligations and to not pay the environmental fee. The regulatory authorities did not have the necessary tools to bring such businesses to justice. As a result, households were left to shoulder the main burden of municipal waste management through their waste disposal fees.
So, last year, the estimated fee households paid for municipal solid waste management totalled around 175 billion rubles, while the environmental fee credited to the federal budget from businesses was below 4 billion rubles – the gap is colossal.
This is why, to fulfil your instructions, Mr President, the Government approved the Concept for improving the institution of extended responsibility and prepared a relevant draft law. With the involvement of industry specialists, we conducted a major analysis of the current system, identified its shortcomings and prepared a reform plan.
This is the most complicated environmental project in three years. On April 25, the Government submitted this draft law to the State Duma.
(Further on, Viktoria Abramchenko reported on the main parameters of the reform and provisions of the draft law. She spoke about transferring some responsibility for recycling from manufacturers to packaging producers, a category that is continuously growing due to the development of e-commerce and delivery services. This would encourage packaging producers to develop independent recycling and produce increasingly eco-friendly types of packages. The Deputy Prime Minister described recycling standards for various goods, modernisation of the information system and the creation of a registry for recycling companies, which would make it possible to identify unscrupulous producers and control the actual recycling. She also talked about incentives for using recyclable and eco-friendly materials via differentiation of environmental fees because it is important to have an economic impetus for the transition from non-eco-friendly packaging to recyclable options).
Reforming the extended responsibility mechanism would lead to the development of independent recycling, rational decisions on packaging and a reduction in landfill waste disposal. Along with other Government measures, this new mechanism should facilitate the transition to a circular economy as early as 2030.
Mr President, it is extremely important to ensure the law’s entry into force on January 1, 2024. We must create an institution of recyclers and a transparent mechanism for administering this extended producer responsibility. Therefore, I would like to ask you to give instructions for a priority review of the draft during the spring session.
Vladimir Putin: I think this is what we should and will do. Much has been done. This work was started in 2014, as you said. This is no surprise to those involved in this process. They must all be ready for this, and I don’t see any reason to delay. I fully agree with you, absolutely.
I would like to ask Mr Chekunkov about the Northern Sea Route (NSR). We have discussed this issue many times – it is extremely important for us.
Together with our colleagues from Iran – you have probably seen this – with the President of Iran, we have just attended a ceremony for signing the corresponding documents related to the construction of a new North-South railway line.
We must think about the future. The Northern Sea Route is opening up. Our colleagues have just talked about climate change. Whether this is good or bad, it is happening – the Northern Sea Route is opening up.
We have begun regular runs of the Sevmorput nuclear-powered container ship. We have put the second nuclear-powered icebreaker, the Ural, into service. We have plans for developing the Northern Sea Route, and some plans involve our foreign partners, who, as I have said many times, want to develop relations with Russia. In this case, they are interested in this type of activity along the Northern Sea Route.
How is all this going, Mr Chekunkov?
Minister for the Development of the Russian Far East and Arctic Alexei Chekunkov: Mr President,
On your instruction the Government of the Russian Federation has drafted and approved a uniform plan for the development of the Northern Sea Route until 2035. Freight traffic along the NSR has increased from 4 million tonnes in 2014 to 34 million tonnes in 2022, surpassing the Soviet record five-fold. The NSR has already become a major transport corridor for the export of oil, LNG, mineral fertilisers, metals and other high value-added products, to world markets.
The production of these commodities will increase substantially in the next few years. The plans for the development of the NSR meet specific economic requirements on supporting Russian exports and developing the Russian Arctic. The state’s investment in NSR development is protected by binding agreements between the companies that are carrying out these projects in the Arctic, including State Atomic Energy Corporation Rosatom and the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East and Arctic.
The leading Arctic companies – NOVATEK, Vostok Oil, Gazprom Neft, Nornickel, Baimskaya and Severnaya Zvezda – have signed commitments on cargo volumes. Under the agreements, these companies alone must ship through the NSR at least 30 million tonnes of cargo this year, no less than 71 million tonnes in 2024 and over 190 million tonnes in 2030.
With the northern delivery plans, transit volume objectives and other cargo, the goal is to ensure that the NSR will support a capacity of up to 100 million tonnes by 2026 and 200 million tonnes by 2030.
The plan to expand the NSR will help create the necessary infrastructure to move this cargo and, in fact, form a new economy in the Arctic.
The plan is comprised of five main sections.
The first section includes forming a cargo base. In addition to trilateral agreements with leading Arctic companies, promising cargo from new projects will be encouraged to go through the NSR, and coastal and transit transport will be developed. In order to promote transport along the NSR within Russia, we have launched, in conjunction with Rosatomflot, regular coastal service between Murmansk and Kamchatka in 2022 with subsidised rates. The first shipment was loaded to only 15 percent of capacity as the shippers were testing a new route, but the second one was loaded to 90 percent. It is safe to say that transport services along the NSR within Russia enjoy demand.
There will be three passages this year. The number of ports of call went from four to 11, and the route has been extended to Vladivostok.
Export cargo shipments go as scheduled. We anticipate adjustments to our transit goals in 2023–2024. At a time when a number of unfriendly states are trying to revise their plans for transit along the NSR, we are seeing growing interest in using the NSR from China, India and Southeast Asia.
The second section is about creating overland transport infrastructure. Fourteen ports and terminals from Murmansk to Vladivostok are being created or upgraded. LNG transhipment terminals in Murmansk and Kamchatka, the Bukhta Sever oil loading terminal, the Lavna coal terminal, and the port of Tuloma for the transhipment of fertilisers are under construction and will be put into operation this and next year.
The third section includes fleet expansion. Schedules have been approved for creating a new icebreaking and ice-class transport fleet, 153 vessels in all. Replacing a number of technologies originating from unfriendly countries is the main challenge here. Our shipbuilders and all of Russian industry is now working to overcome this. Mr President, you regularly visit the Zvezda shipbuilding complex in the Far East, which is now loaded mainly with ice-class tankers for the Northern Sea Route.
The fourth section is to ensure the safety of navigation along the NSR. It includes a new satellite constellation, the development of hydrographic and hydro-meteorological support services, and emergency rescue and medical infrastructure. In 2023–2025, 16 new emergency rescue vessels will be put on duty along the NSR. The Emergencies Ministry is building the first out of four emergency rescue centres. An order has been placed to build 13 Russian Arctic-grade helicopters which, in conjunction with icebreakers, will fully cover the NSR.
In the next two years, near real-time ice monitoring from space will be fully in place. By the end of this year, five satellites will be launched. Three days ago, Maxim Oreshkin and I were at the Vostochny Cosmodrome and saw the Kondor-FKA radar satellite that was ready for launch.
And the fifth point in the plan is the centralisation of control and development of navigation along the NSR. In line with your instructions, the basic authorities for managing navigation along the NSR have been consolidated at Rosatom. Mr Likhachev and his team are cooperating with the Government to ensure a single system for everyone involved in the Northern Sea Route navigation management, to provide a digital platform where shippers can receive efficient logistics guidance, ship captains can receive safe navigation directions, and the state can receive a transparent management system.
The volume of funds to be invested until 2035 to implement the plan will constitute 1.8 trillion rubles. Of these, 620 billion are federal budget funds, 407 billion are extra-budgetary sources while 764 billion are for additional needs that the responsible executors must work on in a timely fashion as part of the budget process.
The implementation of the plan is being coordinated by the State Commission for the Development of the Arctic under Mr Trutnev with regular reports to Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin.
The development of the Northern Sea Route will bring significant additional revenue to the state, which will make it possible to create a new quality of life in the Russian Arctic. The tax revenues to the budget until 2035 from projects along the NSR should exceed 16 trillion rubles, and the efficiency of sending supplies to the northern regions will also be improved.
In line with your instructions, the Government has submitted – and the State Duma has already adopted in the first reading a draft Federal Law On Northern Deliveries, which will help make the delivery of goods to the North faster and more reliable and ultimately reduce the retail margin in Arctic stores.
Mr President, work on the development of the Northern Sea Route will continue in line with your instructions.
This concludes my report.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you.
Mr Likhachev, you called me, but I was busy at an international event. You probably wanted to say something about this.
Director General of State Atomic Energy Corporation Rosatom Alexei Likhachev: Thank you very much, Mr President, for the opportunity to speak on an essential topic of ours.
In general, I support the Minister’s report. I would like to note that we have developed productive cooperation both with the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East and Arctic and the Ministry of Transport, as well as other agencies responsible for the development of the Arctic region.
Our overall goal is to create comfortable conditions for subsoil users and energy companies, as well as opportunities for global investment.
Despite the sanctions, including restrictions on equipment, none of the major projects in the Arctic have been suspended. Together with NOVATEK, Norilsk Nickel, Rosneft and other companies, we continue to implement large-scale projects that are important both for the Russian economy and that have a key impact on global markets.
Mr President, all the targets for the development of the Northern Sea Route were met in 2022. Total port capacity was 32.3 million tonnes against the 32 million tonnes planned, and in accordance with the approved plan, port capacity should increase to 83 million tonnes in 2024.
Last year, we completed the construction of a federally owned facility, the Utrenny terminal, which is necessary for the further development of the Arctic LNG 2 project.
Mr President, in your opening remarks you mentioned the raising of the flag on the second – third in total – universal icebreaker, the Ural.
We are thankful to the Government for adopting the decision to build the fifth and the sixth universal icebreaker.
In addition, the icebreaker Lider is being built at the Zvezda shipyard. So, we expect five icebreakers in the coming years to be added to our fleet.
Last year, under your instructions and in pursuance of the Prime Minister’s resolution, a Northern Sea Route Main Directorate was established. It included the well-known headquarters of naval operations. The management of NSR navigation was consolidated in one place, and thanks to this, even winter-autumn navigation passed without incident, not a single ship required emergency icebreaking assistance.
I would like to note that we are coordinating our activities with the business community. We established a Council of Navigation Managers on the Northern Sea Route for this purpose. It was noted that freight traffic reached 34 million tonnes last year, which is 2 million more that the target. I would like to emphasise that shipments by Russian companies increased by 1 million tonnes compared to 2021.
Mr President, our objectives for this year are even higher – 36 million tonnes. We are working with the Ministry and shippers to reach this ambitious target. I would like to note that the embargo introduced by some European countries on the shipment of oil and oil products has become more than just a challenge, it has opened a new window of opportunity for creating an additional cargo shipping base on the NSR. We are working with Russian companies on redirecting Russian oil from Baltic ports through the NSR as the safest and most attractive route. Thanks to the NSR, we have the opportunity to transfer many sea shipping activities from the West to the East.
The dynamic development of the NSR raises the issue of Arctic shipbuilding. At present, 30 ships are operating, and another 33 are under construction. We continue building four floating nuclear power stations. I must say that interest in these floating stations continues to grow in both Russia and in the rest of the world.
The implementation of shippers’ investment plans will require an additional shipbuilding order. This order is on a completely different scale. I mentioned the five nuclear-powered icebreakers; now, we need to make a decision on starting another four conventionally-powered icebreakers this year. Overall, we will need up to 100 Arctic class ships, as well as at least 15 floating energy units. This many new ships is of course a challenge for the domestic shipbuilding industry.
In compliance with your instructions and under the leadership of Mr Manturov, the Ministry of Industry and Trade is working on this with us. First, this includes support and orders for the Zvezda Shipbuilding Complex, and expansion of the Baltic Shipyard’s production capacity with the possibility of using a new site in mid-term perspective. We have informed you about this.
Second, we need to improve labour productivity and reduce the time for building ships by introducing the Rosatom production system. We have positive experience with this in cooperation with United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC) at the Krasnoye Sormovo Plant in Nizhny Novgorod. Now we are carrying out the same programme at the Baltic Shipyard, and we are ready to do all we can to extend this programme to all USC companies.
Mr President, colleagues,
The personnel issue is of utmost importance. By 2030 alone we will need at least 7,500 crew members, taking into account the number of ships we require. This includes at least 1,500 crew for the nuclear icebreaker fleet. Training for the necessary marine specialties takes at least 5.5 years. Thus, by the end of this year, together with the Ministry of Transport, we will create a staffing order for the relevant educational institutions. These are our renowned maritime universities – Admiral Makarov State University in St Petersburg, Admiral Nevelskoi Maritime State University in the Far East, and Admiral Ushakov Maritime State University in Novorossiysk.
I would like to stress once again that not only Russian companies show interest in the Northern Sea Route, but also BRICS and the Middle East countries. In this regard, we are considering the participation of our partners from friendly countries not only in transit along the NSR, but also in the development of the infrastructure. This is a new area of our interaction with investors. Over the past three months, we have held a number of meetings with potential partners. Our goal is to reach substantive agreements on both transit and infrastructure construction by the end of the year.
Mr President, to conclude, I would like to inform you that together with NOVATEK we are set to launch year-round navigation in the eastern part of the Northern Sea Route early next year. This is a truly historic decision, which is crucial for the development of the entire Arctic region and particularly important for our country’s economy.
Thank you for your attention.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you.
Colleagues, I would like to point out the following. I will pick up where Mr Likhachev finished – the focus on this issue. In the past, we took a decision on the Eastern Operating Domain. Regrettably, we were too cautious – we mentioned it a number of times – it was our common decision, as I see it. That would have been very useful now.
At the moment, we are talking about another project of an absolutely fundamental nature – the development of the Northern Sea Route. As Mr Chekunkov said, by 2030 the freight turnover is to reach almost 200 million tonnes. And there is demand for that. In order to meet this demand, we must implement the plans that our colleagues, including Mr Likhachev, have just spoken about in terms of shipbuilding but not limited to that. We also need to build rescue ships and three Arctic rescue centres for the Emergencies Ministry and so on. There is a lot in the development plan. This, of course, requires a certain amount of money. Nothing is possible without financial backing.
Yes, we do have certain issues which need to be resolved financially; we have always had them. However, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that the development of the Northern Sea Route is certainly one of the obvious strategic priorities. We should not skimp or cut back on anything based on the current situation, although the current situation also gives us grounds to believe that all our projects of this kind will be implemented.
Industrial production is on the rise now, and on the whole, the economic development forecast for this year is quite positive.
Mr Manturov, can you provide a progress report on the industrial production, including metallurgy, car industry, electronics, and oil refining?
Deputy Prime Minister – Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov: Mr President, the situation varies from one sector to another. Regarding metallurgy, we are close to reaching last year’s results. What I mean is that the production volumes and the growth indicators have almost reached 100 percent.
As for the electronics sector, its growth rate already exceeded 10 percent.
My colleague Alexander Novak will offer a deeper insight into oil refining. Overall, we expect manufacturing and processing to grow by 2 percent this year. Even if this is a very cautious estimate, we can say that processing will increase by about 2 percent.
Vladimir Putin: I think that the electronics sector had a higher growth rate than you said.
Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin: 22.5 percent.
Vladimir Putin: The Prime Minister and I discussed this matter yesterday late in the evening. Processing has also been on the rise. We had reasons to be concerned with this sector considering what is going on there, but the growth rates have been quite solid.
Mr Reshetnikov, as far as I understand, consumer demand has also been on the rise.
Minister of Economic Development Maxim Reshetnikov: Yes, Mr President, no matter where you look, be it the household incomes or the growth in wages, they are all slightly above the estimates I reported earlier. The first quarter results were better than expected. Lending is on the rise. In March, it was up 19 percent, including 24.5 percent in loans to businesses and 16 percent in the housing sector. This helps support business, investment, etc. Overall, the trends we are seeing are rather positive.
We do understand that we must be extremely careful and make sure that we are on the safe side, but overall the performance so far has been quite positive.
Vladimir Putin: I see.
Ms Golikova, what is the nominal and real wage growth year on year?
Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova: Mr President, we can report little real wage growth. Rosstat published the 2022 figures in May, after adding information for small and medium-sized businesses. I believe that the final growth for 2022 is 0.4 percent.
We are now actively monitoring the figures for the first quarter in the same fashion, but the figures will be available a little later, after we receive the statistical data that are not due yet.
Vladimir Putin: What is the approximate figure right now?
Mikhail Mishustin: I can provide it, if I may. We have reviewed the preliminary figures so far.
Vladimir Putin: Please do. Is it 3.5–3.6 percent?
Mikhail Mishustin: The real wage growth is 3 percent, and the nominal growth is approximately 13 percent for the year. However, Ms Golikova will report the official data when she has them. I cited the figures as of yesterday.
Vladimir Putin: What is the real wage increase, 2 percent?
Mikhail Mishustin: Around 3 percent.
Vladimir Putin: Good.
Mr Patrushev, what can you say about growth in agricultural production and processing?
Minister of Agriculture Dmitry Patrushev: Mr President, the growth for agricultural production and the agro-industrial sector as a whole was 9 percent last year. I believe it has increased by 2.9 percent in the first quarter of this year. Consequently, we expect growth to continue in the first six months.
Vladimir Putin: Ms Golikova, the current unemployment rate is 3.5–3.6 percent, as far as I know.
Tatyana Golikova: Yes, Mr President, it remains at this low level. But our task is not to maintain this figure but to provide personnel to our economy. That is why our efforts are focused on ensuring that our enterprises have the necessary personnel. We are using all the instruments available to increase workforce mobility and provide retraining. We have the necessary budgetary resources for this.
Vladimir Putin: Mr Belov, what is the inflation rate at the moment?
Deputy Governor of the Central Bank Sergei Belov: Good afternoon,
As Central Bank Governor Elvira Nabiullina said at the news conference, we are seeing the current decline in inflation, but it is possible it will increase by the end of the year.
We are progressing steadily, but reaching the goal is a long-term prospect.
Vladimir Putin: Yes, I see. We have talked about this: the lag is usually quite long, up to six months, so that all the factors play out.
However, what does the situation look like today?
Mikhail Mishustin: The annual figure is 2.3.
Vladimir Putin: Yes. Mr Belov, what is the annual inflation rate now?
Sergei Belov: That’s right, the annual inflation rate is 2.3.
Vladimir Putin: Yes, 2.3, it is true. Why am I asking this? Mr Siluanov, this means that our budget revenues must also be at the appropriate level. Is this right?
Finance Minister Anton Siluanov: Mr President, yes, indeed, our non-oil-and-gas revenues are growing as planned. That is, we expect that there may even be a small surplus in non-oil-and-gas revenues at the end of the year.
However, the problem is with oil and gas revenues: for now, we can see that, considering the current situation and all these discounts, they are lagging behind. And, of course, there is the issue of expenditures. We can see that now, today, literally today, we have fulfilled the plan for annual revenue to about 30 percent. And we fulfilled the annual expenditure for the year by 39 percent. Therefore, we still have a temporary imbalance, which should be levelled out as we further proceed with budget execution.
Vladimir Putin: Yes. We have set a certain price for gas, and it has dropped a little; we are reducing production, but nevertheless it is at the proper level. Prices fluctuate on world markets. But all our actions, including those on voluntary cuts in production, are connected precisely with the need to maintain a certain price environment on world markets in dialogue and in contact with our partners in OPEC Plus. In general, the situation is absolutely stable here.
Why did I bring this up? When working in strategic areas and on strategic projects, such as the Northern Sea Route for example, we must act very prudently and keep in mind the importance and future of projects of this kind. I hope that this project will be fully implemented within the parameters we agreed on.
To close the operational part, I would like to ask Mr Falkov to update us on the enrolment campaign at universities.
Minister of Science and Higher Education Valery Falkov: Mr President, colleagues,
The enrolment campaign across Russia and at Russian universities’ foreign-based branches will start on June 20. The main admissions phase will take place from August 3 to 9. In this regard, I would like to point out three crucial aspects.
First, this year we have 626,278 state-funded places available. In accordance with your instruction, Mr President, the absolute majority of school leavers will have a chance to study tuition-free.
I would also like to note that the bulk of state-funded places – over 73 percent – have been distributed among the universities in the regions.
I would like to note that in response to the new circumstances and employer requests, this year, for the first time ever, we redistributed the state-funded places that had been allocated to the universities earlier in order to expand enrolment in priority areas, primarily, engineering and technical specialties.
The Commission for Scientific and Technological Development under the Government has set the priorities, and in the future, we will provide the universities with target admissions numbers as close as possible to the start of the enrolment campaigns in order to take into account the up-to-the-minute staffing needs in the economy and the social sphere.
Notably, as a result, the greatest number of budget places, 246,204 in all, went to education, such as engineering, technology and technical sciences.
The areas that showed the greatest growth include computer science and computer technology, information security and mechanical engineering. Notably, the IT specialties are particularly popular with school graduates.
I would also like to note that with changes in the geopolitical situation and the growing role of the eastern vector, we have significantly increased the number of state-funded places in the department of Oriental and African studies, up from 860 to almost 1,000.
In addition, we have proactively developed a draft programme for promoting education and research in this area. I will discuss this in more detail a little later.
Second, we continue perfecting the interaction between school graduates and universities during the enrolment campaign. It is already clear that this year the main way to submit applications will be online. We have expanded the functionality of the online university enrolment superservice, which is integrated with the single Gosuslugi public services website. The service will help enrolees apply to a university without visiting the admissions office personally and without a paper application or queue.
Third, I would like to highlight a number of fundamental changes in the enrolment rules this year. In line with your instructions, we have established education benefits for the participants in the special military operation and members of their families. For enrolment to universities, a separate quota has been determined which constitutes at least 10 percent of the total number of admissions per area of training.
This quota envisages admission without entrance exams for Heroes of the Russian Federation, persons awarded three Orders of Courage, as well as their children, for children of people who have taken part in the special military operation, who died or were injured in the line of military service. Children of participants in the special military operation can enrol based on the university’s internal exams or on the results of the EGE (national final school exam), as they choose, under a separate quota. Conditions for admission to universities in the new Russian regions have also been established. School graduates there will be able to enrol by choosing either the EGE or the internal entrance tests. Actually, they will also be able to enrol in other Russian regions.
Mr President, in conclusion of my brief speech, I would like to elaborate on the draft programme for the development of training in Oriental and African studies. It was developed in collaboration with leading scientific institutes and universities and with the involvement of large Russian companies with interests in the Asian and African countries.
Historically, Russian Oriental studies is a complex research area; it includes the study of various aspects of the life of Asian, African peoples and countries, including history, philology, ethnology, political, social, economic development and international relations. Of course, Oriental and African studies are both based on an in-depth knowledge of the respective languages and national traditions. Recognised world centres for Oriental and African studies have been established in Russia: at Lomonosov Moscow State University, at St Petersburg University, at MGIMO, and at the Higher School of Economics. The same goes for our great scientific organisations: the Institute for African Studies, the Institute of Oriental Studies, and the Institute of China and Modern Asia. And, of course, the traditions of Russian Oriental studies must be preserved and expanded.
We have identified three goals while working on the programme.
The first one is to consolidate the efforts undertaken by research institutes, universities, the public authorities and businesses in order to improve the quality of education and research in this area.
The second goal is to expand Oriental studies and research in the country’s regions. The demand is overwhelming. We believe that the Primorye, Khabarovsk and the Trans-Baikal territories, Buryatia, the Irkutsk and Tomsk regions, Kalmykia and other regions should become centres for a new Orientalist training system and for promoting research in this sphere. We plan to support them separately as part of this special programme.
The third goal is to ensure Russia’s academic and expert leadership in these areas, global leadership, based on the traditions and research schools that have been developed over many decades. This matters a lot if we want to establish effective intercultural communication. It is imperative to support the existing professional association of Orientalists, research schools and groups of researchers led by recognised scholars and, of course, to support talented youth.
The development programme includes several key activities, in particular, the development of new curricula with a stronger practical component, which we will do as part of the effort to form a national higher education system.
The development of academic mobility comes second. This applies to students, teachers and researchers equally. We believe that internships in the countries under study should become a mandatory part of professional education, without which it is impossible to fully master the language, understand the culture, or conduct high-quality research.
Of course, we will focus on attracting talented young people to this area through the creation of new youth scientific laboratories. This tool has a proven track record, and I have reported to you about that on two separate occasions.
We are confident that once implemented, the programme will provide a system-wide effect to achieve the country's strategic priorities, while the demand for well-trained specialists, as well as the results of their research, will be high.
Vladimir Putin: Good. Thank you very much.