Question: Vladimir Vladimirovich. Yesterday we saw how national projects are being implemented in Chuvashia and today, a visit to Belgorod. What is your sense of how national projects are being implemented in these regions, and what is your prognosis for the future?
President Vladimir Putin: I consider that things are proceeding satisfactorily. In general I am content with how national projects are developing. When we created this programme two years ago with colleagues in the government cabinet we had certain worries. For example, would work proceed as quickly and as effectively as we would like? But what we saw yesterday in the fields of health care and education has helped convince me that we took the absolutely correct decisions, and that the specialists that work in these fields support them. And the results themselves do not only bear witness to quantitative improvements, but also to the quality of services that people receive.
The same applies to the national project for agriculture. In the past year and a half over one hundred and forty billion rubles have become available. They number 62 billion in just the Belgorod region. These are, of course, big sums for Russia. But even more important than the amount of money is the quality of production. We are not going to throw money at modernising outdated industries. In fact, all that we are looking at and everything you can see (and I would recommend looking in more detail) are new production industries based on modern technologies. And everything has good development prospects. Financial resources are coupled with measures to support these industries – moral, administrative and political support. Combined with joint efforts by the federation and the regions (those regions where the leaders are receptive and dedicated to this project), they are having a due effect. On the whole, I am satisfied.
Question: Vladimir Vladimirovich. Yesterday the government cabinet resigned and Viktor Zubkov became candidate for Prime Minister. All are interested in knowing more details. Why now, and why this candidate?
Vladimir Putin: We will return to the cabinet to close the previous question. But we came here today to talk about the national projects, with a view to understanding what prevents us from moving ahead even faster, and which adjustments we need to make so that given programmes develop faster and have a greater output. Of course, in such large-scale work there are probably always going to be certain things that require special attention or adjustments. We are going to work on this today.
As for the government, if you remember, in my Address [to the Federal Assembly] I said that regardless of the domestic political calendar, elections to the State Duma, and the Russian presidential election in March 2008, everyone should devote all their energies to their appointed duties up to the last minute.
But, of course, such appeals are one thing, reality another. All of us, members of the cabinet and of different administrative structures are people with plans for our own lives, with our own visions for the future. And, of course, it is a little difficult to concentrate, when you think of all the uncertainties in store for every person, as the administrative system and the government of the country will be reconstituted by the events of December this year and March 2008. For this reason I thought it was appropriate that these questions be removed. If you remember, this is what was done in 2004, on the eve of the presidential election. In my opinion, it is better to make some decisions about personnel now, to take the necessary steps in terms of modernisation of the system of governance, in order to avoid disruptions associated with large shakeups and systemic changes. This will enable us to pursue the same direction in the development of administrative and executive power after December 2007 and March 2008.
We hope that all these actions will enable people to focus more and better on the performance of their duties, and that the whole system of authority and management in Russia will operate smoothly during the election period, and immediately after the elections in, I repeat, 2007 and 2008. That is the main incentive.