Vladimir Putin: Before we begin work, I propose we observe a moment of silence in memory of the dead.
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This is a tragic event for all of us, I have no doubt, and for all residents of Sakhalin. I personally knew Igor Pulikovsky well for many years, and I can say that not just because I met with him regularly, but because in recent years I got to know him as a person who truly lived with the problems of Sakhalin, with the problems of the region. He would calmly, without unnecessary fuss, stand up for the interests of the Sakhalin Region, and he did this with great dignity, calmly, systematically and professionally. His entire working life passed here after he finished his higher education and until this tragedy. Here he grew, without any doubt, into a politician of federal importance. He formed an effective team, which confidently kept the administration of such a complex region of Russia as Sakhalin under control. Unfortunately, part of this team is no longer with us. But even this loss should not affect the administration of the region. This must under no circumstances be allowed to happen. I want to make this particularly clear – this tragedy must not affect the effectiveness of local government. It must be collected and as organised as possible. And I appeal to all those present, especially the heads of district and municipal bodies.
At this moment, the residents of Sakhalin, without a doubt, are feeling the effects of this tragedy as much as we are, but they should be assured that all the current socio-economic problems, all the problems of the region will be solved effectively and without errors. I just talked about this in detail with the acting Governor. Furthermore, these people, the residents of the region, and their problems must be given increased attention now. I want to repeat once again – a great deal here depends on the leaders of municipal bodies. This is why I asked for you to be present at this meeting today. The representative of the Russian President, Konstantin Pulikovsky, is also present here; and I would like to ask you, Mr Pulikovsky, to give special attention to Sakhalin during this period.
There are many issues at hand: the upcoming winter period, and socio-economic problems. There is the budget. There is a large responsibility, a large burden on our shoulders. Let us talk about these problems.
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In my concluding remarks, I would like to direct your attention to what was said here about the fact that a tragedy should bring people together. I want to urge you to do this. Recent figures of the economic development of the region really do say a lot, and they speak for themselves. There is a confident growth of the regional product recently, the increase in wages, the improvement of the situation on the labour market, which the acting Governor spoke about. There is an improvement in the demographic situation – at least, positive tendencies can be clearly seen. All this has led to the beginning of a consolidation process in the Sakhalin Region. This is a positive tendency. And of course, this is primarily the result of major economic projects in the oil and gas sphere. I want to note that these projects will continue. They will continue to feel the support of the federal centre. And this is a good engine for the development of the entire region. But to make use of this situation, great efforts are required on your part. So far, you have done this with honour. I must say that you have endured the most difficult times. This was a great accomplishment of Mr Pulikovsky and all of his team. And of our colleagues who are no longer with us, and of those who are present today, and those who are not in this hall, but who continue to work. And I want to make it clear that you will carry out this duty to the memory of the deceased Governor, and your colleagues, if you work on solving the tasks we have discussed today. This will also be the best way to do your duty to the residents of the Sakhalin Region.