President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: So, how are you feeling? Wide awake? Well, okay.
I just watched your friends working – it was very impressive. This is a beautiful place and I also think that working conditions aren't bad, so now is the time to remember how this all began. It started 50 years ago. There are some colleagues here who suggested to me at some point that we should celebrate the anniversary of the founding of student construction brigades. And that despite the many changes during those 50 years — the country has changed, life has changed and the principles of life have changed — nevertheless this movement has remained. This shows that it still has great prospects.
This year there are about 230,000 students involved in student construction brigades. As I remember, in the Soviet period, in the mid-1980s, nearly a million people were involved, about 800,000. But it is true that at the time we were living in a slightly different country: there were more people and more [construction] sites. So in general I believe the figures are comparable.
Given the fact that we are building ever more, and this despite the economic downturn, in the future we have to achieve some very important results, including the Olympics, the APEC summit in Vladivostok, on Russky Island, and some other very large construction projects. I think that the number of construction brigades will certainly continue to grow, and that's a fact. The main thing is that this is beneficial to students themselves, to universities, and to those who commissioned these works.
Let me mention another figure. Last year those involved in student construction brigades earned 5 billion rubles, and this is also not bad. Of course if you divide this amount by 270,000, it is much less, but it is money all the same.
We just reminisced and my colleagues will not let me deceive you: salaries in student construction brigades (SSO) [during the Soviet Union] also differed at the time. Sometimes they were very high, especially for the construction of agricultural facilities and certain other ones. There were also more humble salaries but in any case this amounted to a significant addition to a student budget. When I worked at this, for me as a whole this was a good salary. I think I earned about 500 rubles and at the time that was decent money. I do not know how much you earn, but I hope it is nothing to be ashamed of here or elsewhere. We will talk about this.
There is certainly a topic related to the further development of the student brigades movement, and that is the legal status of student groups. As far as I understand this issue has not yet been resolved. That is to say, student brigades operate in a wide range of legal forms: as commercial organisations, non-profit organisations, and even government agencies and institutions. So this hodgepodge should be eliminated, because work in a student brigade should be a recognised education with clear legal opportunities and responsibilities enshrined in law. Therefore, in the near future the State Duma will consider amendments to current legislation on this subject and we will unify the status of student brigades, that is, create a uniform status, and hopefully one that is easy for students and for universities. If you are interested in this topic, we can discuss it as well.
Once again, I would like to welcome you, to say that I am very glad to see you here in Sochi, one of our main construction sites, and a place where even though a lot of things are currently being built, a very large amount of construction remains. And judging by what people just reported to me, the peak period for construction should be 2011–2012, and during that period students will very actively engage in this major construction endeavour.