President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Now, I would like to conclude with just a few remarks on certain issues that I have not yet commented on, but which I find important.
A note regarding personnel. Colleagues, governors, we have agreed that a talent pool should be set up in every region. I would like it to be an operating talent pool, rather than a formality before the Presidential Executive Office. Why is such a pool created? Definitely not for reporting to the Presidential Executive Office. A talent pool should be made of the people you personally know and actively promote. I can tell you that out of the presidential pool of managers I have already appointed nearly a dozen people to various positions. Let me know how many have you appointed. I would like to see such appointments.
The next issue relates to university graduates and new personnel. If they graduate from a mining academy or some other university in St Petersburg or Moscow but are reluctant to return to Siberia, then I think this is a sign of defective policies, including those followed locally. I believe regions should make contracts with and pay tuition for local students in order to get at the end the specialists they need. Under such contracts, the graduates undertake to return to Siberia and work locally on the terms and conditions specified. Should they decline to do so, they shall reimburse their tuition. It is quite obvious that there should be contracted education. We no longer have assignment of graduates in the country. We all remember the days it was a customary practice when graduates, including ourselves, were just obligatorily appointed to Kuzbass or wherever else. Such practice is gone and will never be back, and the graduates these days can not be ordered to take the position they do not wish. But we certainly can use financial leverage. We should make contracts with prospect specialists on a condition they will repay their tuition in case they fail to honour the contract terms.
Today, we discussed the environmental aspects relating to Lake Baikal. This is an ongoing, complicated issue. Still, I agree with the governors and business representatives who said that to a certain extent, we locked ourselves into a fairly difficult position.
First, we made a lot of decisions, knowing beforehand they would be unenforceable; then, in accordance with our national habitudes, we did not bother to implement those decisions. This is a perfect illustration for a well known saying that the strictness of our laws is counterbalanced by their loose observance.
I therefore believe that we need to review the statutes and regulations applying to Lake Baikal in order to separate the effective and beneficial statutes from the inexecutable and useless ones. Otherwise, their enforcement will only concern ecologists amid everyone else’s indifference with even prosecutors supervising environmental problems failing to make them work. Statutes must be enforceable and adequate to the current level of economic development and our ideas about Baikal’s future, they are not a mere mix of optations.
I have to agree with Mr Deripaska and others that some recent amendments to the Forestry Code are not having their intended effect. Such opinion is also shared by large businesses represented here today, and small and medium-sized businesses, the people I have met. They all say that this document has led to confusion. So let’s be realistic and let’s think about ways to improve it. It is not a big deal. If we do something wrong, then let’s correct it. This is better and fairer than trying to pretend that a given law is being applied when that is not the case.
And finally, after the accident at the Sayano-Shushenskaya Hydroelectric Station, there have been many apocalyptic comments both in our country and abroad. The synopsis of such comments is simple: it is a disaster, the beginning of Russia’s technological demise, the Chernobyl of the 21st century. Those who are not happy about seeing Russia within its current borders or are displeased with its role on the global arena are getting excited.
However, we here understand that despite the tragedy of what has happened and despite the death of our people, all this is hooey. The only part that is true is this: our country is lagging technologically. This is not representative of a specific dramatic catastrophe, but rather, the fact that we really are very far behind, and if we do not step up to this challenge, then all the perils those people are talking about may actually come to be.
Still, we have every opportunity to overcome our technological underdevelopment. Let me remind you that at the beginning of the 20th century, the majority of Russia’s population was simply illiterate, but we overcame that problem. We did not have electricity or national industries then, but we dealt with that, too. The challenges before us now are as difficult as those of the past, but we can see that today, we have a well educated society that has come to some advanced level of development. Thus, we simply need to roll up our sleeves and join our efforts – this applies to the government, to state businesses, and to private businesses. We should be together. This is not a time to put on airs or compete over who has more assets and who has done more for our nation, as the crisis has put us all on even ground. Private businesses have come to understand that life is not so simple, while government companies see that their opportunities are not unlimited. Only by working together, we can create a modern nation — the result we all expect.
Thank you for participating in this meeting.