President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Good afternoon, colleagues,
Happy New Year to all of you.
This is a meeting we traditionally hold at this time of the year. I would like to draw everyone’s attention to a crucial fact: a little over three years remain until the opening of the 2014 Winter Olympics. I hope all the challenges arising from this are clear. In fact, preparations for the Olympics have entered their final phase. This is a hugely ambitious project for our country because any Olympic Games are a massive project, and moreover, conditions in our country are not ideal, as we should admit openly: we have a lot of problems and all of them must be resolved. I am referring to construction and some organisational issues, many of which have been successfully addressed already. I remember our meeting last year and the year before, when it seemed like there was an avalanche of problems that would never be resolved. But it turns out that we can do it if we want to. So there has been progress across the board despite certain tensions.
I would like to be briefed on the course of the preparations as a whole. Although I keep up to date, I get regular reports from you, but let us go over it once again so that perhaps not only those present but also the journalists find out the facts about the current situation. One of the most important issues which we always focus on at our meetings is the outlook for the post-Olympics period.
The Olympics is very important, of course, it is a major sporting event that brings great joy, but for us it is equally important, and perhaps even more important, to make sure that the largest possible number of new venues and facilities for life and leisure remain here in Sochi after the Olympics, and that the high standard that is going to be achieved in any case and at any price by and during the Olympic Games, is preserved for the people who live in the Krasnodar Territory, for the local residents and for all those who come here on holiday. This, perhaps, is the second objective of today’s meeting.
Of the funds allocated for the Olympic project 85% are aimed at creating a modern infrastructure. This is a lot of money that will be spent on the social, transport and energy infrastructure. I must say that the changes are clearly visible: every month when I come here, and I visit Sochi regularly, I can see progress. The last time I was here on December 1, for the Russian-Italian talks, and the changes since then are clearly visible.
Of course, we must think about the environment and the development of tourism, too. The goal, as I said, is to transform Sochi into a world-class resort and a popular holiday destination. Therefore, we need new roads, tunnels and utilities to be used both by holiday-makers and the local residents in the Greater Sochi area, which is very big. What is the population of the Greater Sochi today?
Krasnodar TERRITORY GOVERNOR ALEXANDER TKACHEV: In total 450,000 people.
Dmitry Medvedev: And during the summer holiday season?
Alexander Tkachev: Three and a half million.
Dmitry Medvedev: So, during the summer there are up to four million people in the area. This is a huge number of people, who must all have comfortable accommodation and enjoy the best service and recreation facilities.
If we talk about construction projects, the plan is to build thirty hotels with 25,000 rooms in Sochi. The situation so far is not very good and I would like to be briefed on what is being done to improve it. The construction of hotels is the biggest challenge so far but it can certainly be resolved. I would like to hear your reports on this issue separately, on what is being done in terms of commissioning new hotel stock and reconstructing the existing hotels.
Now, as for sports venues, we have fourteen such facilities in total. It has been suggested to divide them into three categories, depending on options for their future use. According to the Government’s proposals, as I understand it, the facilities in the first group will continue to be used as sports venues, i.e. for their intended purpose. There are eight such facilities, six of which are part of the mountain cluster and two others are in the coastal area.
The second group includes facilities that can be disassembled and moved to another region through the use of cutting edge technologies. I would like to find out whether everyone agrees with these proposals, including regional authorities and the builders. As far as I know, agreements have been reached on all four of those facilities regarding the location where they will be used as venues for different major competitions to be held in our country in the future.
Finally, the third group includes two facilities that are subject to redevelopment and that will remain in Sochi for use by local residents and the tourists who spend their holidays here. That is how the Olympic facilities have been divided.
If we return to sports issues, I have been here for two days and I have seen the progress in construction in the mountain cluster. The pace is excellent and it is clear what will be done there. I would like to thank all of you for your hard work.
At the same time, we need to solve a variety of issues, including snow supply, because this is the second winter that there has been no snow in January. Of course, the Olympics will be held in a different period, but we are to make sure that we do not have the same problems as, for example, Vancouver had last year. This process involves the use of various technologies, and we should think about how to address this issue.
There is another subject I have heard a lot about, including from holiday-makers: potentially, over time it may be possible to create a system that would allow people to take advantage of all the recreation opportunities, including by introducing a ski pass, which would link all the existing facilities. It is very important, but clearly this should be part of the tourism development drive.
I would like the owners of infrastructure facilities to come to an agreement about this. We understand that there may be different situations, some facilities can be used for recreation while others cannot. I think this is also an important issue for the future, not for the Olympics themselves but for the period after the Games, to make sure that the greatest possible number of Russians choose Sochi as their holiday destination. It is already popular and many people spend their holidays in Sochi and in the Krasnodar Territory in general, even though the vacation opportunities in Europe are excellent.
The Olympic project is not limited to the creation of material objects but also includes the introduction of a variety of advanced social technologies. We talked about the development of the volunteer movement both last year and two years ago. I know that our colleagues are engaged in this effort, including our colleagues from the business community. I think this is an extremely important initiative. We must make sure that our people are ready for this kind of work.
Another important area is environmental education and the creation of an accessible environment for people with all kinds of health problems. The existing experience should be used with the utmost efficiency. Of course, we will also need it for future competitions, including the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Those are the main subjects for our discussion today, though some other issues could be raised as well.