Mr Putin and Mr Medvedev discussed a number of organisational changes in the Government. In particular, the President agreed with Mr Medvedev’s proposal to abolish the Ministry for Crimean Affairs, as this ministry has now completed its mission to integrate Crimea into the Russian Federation.
Mr Medvedev proposed including a number of federal deputy ministers in the governments of Crimea and Sevastopol. The Prime Minister also said he supports the continued work of the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East and the Ministry for North Caucasus Affairs, and suggested merging the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service and the Federal Tariff Service into a single entity.
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Beginning of meeting with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Medvedev, you wanted to discuss several issues pertaining to the structure of the Government. Please, go ahead.
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev: Mr President, for more than a year, we have been working on procedures pertaining to immersing Crimea into the Russian Federation’s legal field. It was initially the Ministry for Crimean Affairs that dealt with these matters.
All of the legal issues are now closed: not just the changes to the Constitution, which were made a long time ago, but also full integration into the Russian legal field, publication of many laws and bylaws, and the creation of an organisational system of work. In this regard, we can say that the Ministry for Crimean Affairs has fulfilled its objective.
Moreover, the Ministry was given the task of preparing a federal targeted programme to develop Crimea. This is an important, serious programme, a significant instrument with rather serious financing: over 700 billion rubles. This programme was prepared and adopted by the Government in accordance with the President’s instructions.
Given all this, I feel it is possible to consider that the Ministry for Crimean Affairs has fulfilled its duties and we can consider eliminating it in order to save on administrative resources and generally streamline the work of federal executive agencies.
At the same time, of course, we must continue our work to ensure Crimea’s continued economic and social integration into the Russian Federation. This is not the fastest process. We know how much Crimea has fallen behind the other regions in our country, so these challenges could be entrusted to the Economic Development Ministry.
We have other territorial ministries that were created relatively recently and are working on the development of the Far East and the North Caucasus. These ministries are resolving major challenges that, to be frank, will take decades. For example, the Far East has enormous development programmes and we will need to address a large number of socioeconomic issues. It would probably be right to maintain the existing governance system there, with a Ministry and a deputy prime minister who is also a Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy curating it.
The same is true of the North Caucasus. We know the situation in that region, and it has an enormous number of unresolved social, economic, and even ideological problems, for which it is imperative to provide coordination through federal agencies. So the Ministry for North Caucasus Affairs could likely continue its work, taking into account that we discussed a range of ideas recently pertaining to the transfer of decision-making to the regional level. That is why we created these three ministries. However, we can consider that one of them has fulfilled its duties.
Vladimir Putin: I think this issue has come to a head. However, the problem of coordinating the work of agencies in Crimea and Sevastopol with the federal government remains. How do you propose to organise this work? I mean that Crimea and Sevastopol still have many issues to resolve in developing these territories and implementing the federal targeted programme you just spoke of.
Dmitry Medvedev: This is absolutely the right approach. It comes down to, on the one hand, providing direct federal coordination. In this case, I would suggest creating, for example, a government commission for Crimea and Sevastopol affairs.
Incidentally, such commissions are in effect in the North Caucasus and the Far East. We can create the same commission for Crimean affairs at the Government level, while reorganising the government commission accordingly.
Vladimir Putin: And the current Minister [Oleg Savelyev, Minister for Crimean Affairs]?
Dmitry Medvedev: The minister could continue doing nearly the same work at the Presidential Directorate. He would be the responsible secretary of that commission, while the Government would provide the entire set of necessary coordinating instruments. We would institute ministers and heads of other departments there.
But this is the first level. There is a second, equally important level: the executive authorities of Crimea and Sevastopol.
We have a proposalwith approval from the authorities of the Republic of Crimea, its Governor and the Governor of Sevastopol, wherein the Council of Ministers of Crimea and the Government of the Federal City of Sevastopol would includeofficials at the deputy department head level who would coordinate relations with the federal Government and federal departments.
These should be experienced individuals with good contacts at the federal level, perhaps even largely sourced from the directorates of ministries and agencies of the Government of the Russian Federation, who will ensure proper cooperation between federal agencies and the agencies in Crimea and Sevastopol. We do have people who fit this description.
Vladimir Putin: Good, let’s do that. I think this way, we will truly be able to ensure greater independence for Crimea and Sevastopol’s regional authorities, without losing that contact in the cooperation between federal executive authorities, the Government of the Russian Federation and regional agencies.
Dmitry Medvedev: Very well, then we will adopt all the necessary decisions.
I would also like to suggest that we discuss another issue concerning the structure of the Government: optimising the number of agencies that fulfil similar functions. These include the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service and the Federal Tariff Service.
They essentially pursue very similar objectives. At one point, the tariff service was a part of the Anti-Monopoly Ministry; they were then separated during a reorganisation process, but overall, they are working to fulfil similar tasks, monitoring and forming tariffs on the one hand and limiting monopolistic violations on the other.
It has been suggested to once again make the Federal Tariff Service a part of the Anti-Monopoly Service, which is working quite successfully and has a very high level of prestige – incidentally, global prestige. This way, we can save money and also ensure better cooperation, because whenever we have several departments, there are always contradictions occurring that are not optimal for management activities.
Vladimir Putin: Very well. Who do you suggest should head this united agency?
Dmitry Medvedev: We should keep the individual who is currently in this post.
Vladimir Putin: There are two people heading the agencies.
Dmitry Medvedev: Igor Artemyev [head of the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service].
Vladimir Putin: Artemyev, very well.