The meeting was attended by Deputy Prime Minister – Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District Yury Trutnev, Minister for the Development of the Far East and Arctic Alexei Chekunkov, and via videoconference, by Deputy Prime Minister – Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov, deputy prime ministers Alexander Novak and Marat Khusnullin, Presidential Aide Maxim Oreshkin, Minister of Defence Sergei Shoigu, Minister of Healthcare Mikhail Murashko, Minister of Agriculture Dmitry Patrushev, Minister of Economic Development Maxim Reshetnikov, Minister of Transport Vitaly Savelyev, Minister of Finance Anton Siluanov, Minister of Science and Higher Education Valery Falkov, Head of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) Aisen Nikolayev, Governor of the Jewish Autonomous Region Rostislav Goldshtein, Governor of the Khabarovsk Territory Mikhail Degtyarev, Governor of the Primorye Territory Oleg Kozhemyako, Governor of the Amur Region Vasily Orlov, Governor of the Trans-Baikal Territory Alexander Osipov, the mayors of the cities of Blagoveshchensk, Khabarovsk, Birobidzhan and Vladivostok, General Director – Chairman of the Board of Russian Railways Oleg Belozerov, Director General of the State Atomic Energy Corporation Rosatom Alexei Likhachev, General Director of DOM.RF Vitaly Mutko, and Chairman of the State Development Corporation VEB.RF Igor Shuvalov.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues,
As agreed, here at the Eastern Economic Forum, we are going to finalise the review of master plans for developing Far Eastern cities.
Last week, we looked at Yakutsk, Anadyr and Magadan. We are now going to look at several more cities. Thus, in total, we will go through 22 master plans. Today, we will focus on prospects for developing such regional centres as the Vladivostok and Khabarovsk metropolitan areas, Blagoveshchensk and Birobidzhan, which are home to over 1.6 million people.
Due to their location, most of the cities that we will discuss today interact closely with our neighbour and partner, the People's Republic of China and other countries in the Asia-Pacific. Therefore, tourism, logistics and investment cooperation are at the top of their master plans. A key emphasis is made on expanding transport infrastructure such as roads and railways, bridges, train stations and airports. There is even the world's first cross-border cable car. It will connect Blagoveshchensk with the Chinese city of Heihe.
These two cities are located on opposite banks of the Amur River, and they are actively expanding their lines of communication. For example, the Russian-Chinese Economic Forum Amur Expo 2023 simultaneously took place in both cities.
At the same time, I believe that Blagoveshchensk, of course, has the potential to more effectively use the competitive advantages of its location. It also has strong potential to expand inbound tourism, while it can also become a major centre of international business cooperation. So, we need to more actively build modern hotels here, expand the infrastructure for holding exhibitions and conventions and other international events.
On the whole, Russian-Chinese trade volumes, and trade with other Asia-Pacific countries, have been growing dynamically in the past few years. Our transport and logistics infrastructure should also meet growing freight traffic demand. Today, we will discuss key projects in this area.
I would also like to note that the opening of the Nizhneleninskoye-Tongjiang railway bridge across the Amur River in 2022 was an important step in this development. The Jewish Autonomous Region received additional impetus for development after the bridge opened.
Certainly, Birobidzhan, the capital of the Jewish Autonomous Region, will have to accomplish an entire range of economic and social objectives, increase the number of production facilities and jobs. There are ample opportunities for this in the most diverse sectors, such as agriculture, medical goods’ manufacturing, minerals processing, including certain projects, such as a facility for the in-depth processing of graphite, which is widely used in the nuclear power industry, medicine and bio-engineering technologies.
So, the master plan for Birobidzhan can become a good example for building a solid and diverse economy.
Of course, the Khabarovsk metropolitan area also has strong potential and opportunities for diversifying the economy and creating new jobs. The tourism, and industrial and creative sectors are developing in the region. For example, one of our animation studios here produces its own products such as cartoons, which are popular not only in Russia, but also abroad.
Khabarovsk should, of course, focus on developing the historical city centre, improving the embankments and other urban spaces, as well as upgrading the utility networks, public transport and roads, and building housing, education and healthcare facilities.
Khabarovsk is also one of the largest education centres in the Far East. It is important to integrate the city’s higher education institutions and create a common education space based at the new inter-university campus. It will help train professionals more efficiently, develop cooperation with businesses, support youth business and technology teams, create platforms to develop interdisciplinary, international education and research programmes.
Next, Vladivostok, the city we are in – and we have said this many times – also has great development potential. In order to take advantage of it, infrastructural limitations need to be eliminated.
Yes, of course, the ports are being rebuilt and upgraded here. They surely play a significant role in the economy of our entire country, and today, as we know, we can even say a special role. But the city is held back by traffic jams, which local residents know well, and there is a clear shortage of public transport.
In fact, the solution to urban planning issues must be approached comprehensively, with care for the unique nature of these areas and the architectural heritage of Vladivostok, including historical sites and the structures of the Vladivostok fortress.
I would also like to ask you to focus on restoring the facades in the historical centre of the city and improving pedestrian streets and embankments. This would mean both a new quality of life for city residents and an additional flow of Russian and foreign tourists.
And, of course, in Vladivostok, like in other cities, we need to address people’s requests above all.
For example, as you know today, there is a petroleum storage facility in the central part of Vladivostok, which is, of course, inefficient and completely inappropriate considering the environmental implications and modern urban construction. This area can be used to greater effect, including for people to walk in and for recreation; this facility must definitely be removed from the city centre, and in the nearest future at that.
I would also like to stress that Vladivostok, Blagoveshchensk and Khabarovsk are leading education centres in the Far East. It is necessary, of course, to ensure that young people, after graduating from universities, stay to live and work in their hometowns and see career prospects in them. Mr Trutnev and I have now looked at what has been done over the past ten years, and our colleagues report that many young people are coming from other regions of the Russian Federation to study here. We must create conditions for them to want to stay here afterwards.
This is why it is so important to envisage a completely new model for an urban economy in our master plans, which should be based on developing various effective manufacturing and creative industries, as well as creating comfortable conditions for small and medium-sized businesses.
I would like to ask the speakers to highlight such initiatives in their reports.
I would also like to discuss the topical issues of bank and flood protection in populated areas. Recently, a large flood occurred in Ussuriysk, the master plan for which is on our agenda. There were over 44,000 victims. The damage is estimated at approximately seven billion rubles, and it has been determined that a dam failure was among the causes of this disaster.
Such incidents must not happen in the future. I would like to ask you to carefully analyse the situation in areas with a risk of flooding and offer balanced proposals for bank protection and construction of high-quality hydraulic structures, including in Ussuriysk.
Let’s get to work. Please, Mr Trutnev.
Vladimir Putin: Let us sum up some of the findings.
First, I join those who have said that such plans are necessary. When there are benchmarks, it is easier to move towards achieving the necessary results. Therefore, I want to thank all those who worked on this, and I ask the Government, together with those who worked on the drafts of these documents, to approve the plans for this comprehensive development before the year’s end.
Of course, as we have just said, it is very important to identify priorities and sources of funding, and to work with respective agencies. One of the proposals that has been made now is to defer loan repayments. We can probably work on this, I don't know how much the Finance Ministry has factored in these repayments in the federal budget revenues, but we must see, because in general, we are working in the right direction, absolutely in the right direction. If we do not create normal living conditions for people, it will be very hard to calculate how many people will come here. Nobody will come. So I think we are generally moving in the right direction in this matter, but of course, we need to proceed very carefully.
Now, here’s what I would like to point out. First, it is important to organise proper oversight of the decisions we make. This can be done on the platform of the Eastern Economic Forum, and in the future we can provide for annual reporting, at least on the progress in these master plans. Such generalised information will allow us to prepare additional measures for the development of settlements with greater accuracy and efficiency, as well as to adjust the existing programmes.
Second. The issue of the need to create a standard model for how master plans are structured has been raised repeatedly, and, of course, this task must also be resolved. I think that everyone will agree that the very concept of a ”master plan“ should be codified, and its place in the system of strategic documents should be determined. And this work, of course, should involve a broad expert community, including representatives of science and our development institutions.
Now let us address certain specific issues that possibly failed to be raised or were not emphasised. What do I mean? For example, I ask the Government to identify a [gas] supplier for the Khabarovsk agglomeration by the end of this year, which can guarantee gas supplies to the region based on long-term contracts. I also ask [the Government] to put on record that developing gas infrastructure in the Primorye and Khabarovsk territories, the Amur Region and the Jewish Autonomous Region is one of our key priorities. I will not go into detail; I think most of you understand what I am talking about. Our companies are sorting out problems among themselves over there, but people should not suffer because of that. This is important for improving the living standards and promoting the dynamic development of these territories.
As for the land assigned to the Defence Ministry: this matter needs to be studied, of course, and we need to analyse how the facilities and plots of land that have already been transferred are used. This is clear. But what is not being used in reality but could be used, here it is necessary to study and see how it will be used. It is not right just to give away all at once. An analysis is needed, after which decisions will be made on transferring ownership to the region. Idling makes no sense at all, does it? A plot of land out of use will soon be overgrown with birch trees, and so on. Among other things, this concerns the Ussuriysk agglomeration, as well as Vladivostok and Blagoveshchensk.
Our next item is the petroleum storage facility. I have mentioned it and I ask the Government to draw up a scheduled plan for its relocation beyond the [Vladivostok] city limits. Facilities of this kind should not be located in city centres. Of course, the region, jointly with the facility owner, has to find an alternative plot of land that would be convenient for both the employees and the owners. We also should help the owners. It is not right just to snatch their property and make them incur additional costs. This work must be done jointly.
I also ask Russian Railways, jointly with Vladivostok, to consider the possibility of speeding up the construction of light rail metro in the city. This is highly important and will make it possible to ease the traffic on the roads and make headway in solving the congestion problem.
Colleagues, as I said, we are bringing to an end our discussion of master plans for Far Eastern cities. This is a good basis for developing other Russian territories, cities and villages as well.
For example, we have agreed to use the Far Eastern experience to draw up master plans for the backbone cities in the Arctic. Later on, we will create projects of this kind for other Russian regions as well.
I want to thank all of you once again for the work you have done. Please finalise the list of instructions, use it as a basis with account taken of the comments made by our colleagues, and submit it for signing as a working document based on our capabilities and the goals we should set ourselves and work for their attainment.