President Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, Vladimir Olegovich [Potanin].
Vladimir Potanin: Good afternoon, Vladimir Vladimirovich [Putin].
Vladimir Putin: Where shall we begin?
Vladimir Potanin: With the main thing, with energy, if you permit.
This is our main project today. We are continuing our work with the Academy of Sciences on creating hydrogen energy production in Russia. We believe that this really is the technology of the future and we plan to make considerable investment – more than $100 million – in its development. We have already obtained results, but they are modest so far. The main task now is to take our product to promising markets. It is not enough to create the product, we need to be able to organise sales, especially in the developed countries. These countries’ markets are not very open to us, and here, as always, we would like to be assured of the government’s support and your support, if possible.
Vladimir Putin: You will have our support. You already spoke to me earlier about this work and I think it is a very interesting and promising project. Incidentally, I know that you and your company provide ongoing support to various educational establishments. You have developed a system of grants, isn’t that so?
Vladimir Potanin: Yes, this is the case.
Vladimir Putin: Are you continuing this work?
Vladimir Potanin: We are continuing it. Our programme is running for the sixth year now. We have 1,000 students receiving scholarships and a total of more than 50,000 students have already gone through this programme. What’s interesting is that the students tell us that they value not only getting the scholarship but also the opportunity to meet and communicate with each other when they take part in various competitions and tests. We used to look at this with a certain amount of irony. There used to be student construction detachments and other forms of community work in which young people took part together. None of this exists anymore and young people feel a great need to be able to get together and communicate, and not just in discos and clubs. I think this is very important for them.
Vladimir Putin: I agree. Last Saturday and Sunday, I met with U.S. and German business representatives and we discussed the possibility of opening modern educational establishments in Russia in management and a few other areas. They expressed their interest and their willingness to take part in carrying out these plans. If Russian business is equally interested, we could put together a good programme for joint work in this area.
Vladimir Potanin: Certainly. I would be very interested. We have been involved in this area for a long time now. I think that Russia has very good educational traditions, but if someone wants to share their experience with us I think this would always be of interest.
Vladimir Putin: Then I propose that we discuss this matter in more detail.