President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon,
It is so pleasant to visit such places.
When I came to look at new production floors, I had the impression this is a modern art museum. <…> I believe the content corresponds to the appearance.
I hope you find it interesting and pleasant to work here. You celebrated your professional holiday – Armourers’ Day – yesterday. I would like to congratulate you again and to wish you all the best. I would like to express my hope once again that the concern will continue developing and that you will be in a good mood when you go to work and return home afterwards.
A bit over three billion rubles have already been invested. Further investment is also planned, so I think prospects should be good. Do you like the production floor?
Remark: Very much so.
Vladimir Putin: It feels like things are changing, right? Naturally, most important is to manufacture civilian products apart from arms.
The production of civilian products should increase. True, your plants, your concern are producing equipment that is not limited to the timescale of the state arms programme but will be required by the Armed Forces in the future.
Yet, any arms-making enterprise is selling a considerable part of its output on the civilian market. This is the same all over the world. Your executives know this and plan the concern’s development correspondingly, and I hope this is how it is going to be.
Remark: Thank you.
Alexander Yermilov: Hello, Mr President. My name is Alexander Yermilov. I am a senior foreman of the preproduction floor.
Mr President, thank you for the greetings. I would like to express our deep gratitude for instituting our professional holiday. It has been celebrated since 2012 – the fifth time officially, so it has already become a good tradition and not only for our concern but also for the entire defence industry of our country.
Mr President, apparently you have professional family traditions. It would be very interesting to hear about them. Thank you.
Vladimir Putin: Traditions?
Remark: Professional family traditions.
Vladimir Putin: I think there’s a special reason you’re asking me about family traditions. (Laughter). Love those close to you – this is the most important tradition. Nothing is more important than that. I hope this tradition will apply to your co-workers and families. Naturally, how one feels depends on this and also on material well-being. What is your average salary now?
Remark: Thirty thousand.
Vladimir Putin: Thirty thousand? Well, it corresponds to the national average but I think there should be brighter prospects. All of us understand that a salary should match labour productivity. This ratio must be always observed. Considering your enterprise is undergoing active re-equipment let’s assume opportunities for raising salaries will increase as well.
Alexei Smirnov: Mr President, my name is Alexei Smirnov. I am the chief industrial engineer of special equipment production. I would like to ask you the following questions.
In the last few years the Kalashnikov Concern has invested a lot of funds in building new manufacturing facilities, upgrading equipment and heating systems, training and paying workers and opening new social facilities. To justify these expenses and develop the concern further it is necessary to load up these production spaces as much as possible. And so naturally the question arises: will government orders remain steadily high? Won’t they decrease in the near future?
Vladimir Putin: Look, we have come here to discuss exactly this issue. You know that we have a state arms programme to 2020. Now we are drafting a new state arms programme to 2025.
Naturally, there are always issues between the capabilities of the state, budget options and the needs of the Armed Forces. Here we must find the golden mean so that our defence spending does not crowd out other needs linked with social issues, social welfare, pensions, healthcare and education – many areas for which the state and the federal budget are responsible. This is why we must find this golden mean.
However, as I have already said and would like to repeat once again: at all meetings with heads of defence enterprises we have made a point that the peak of equipping our army and navy with modern hardware should come somewhere at the threshold of 2021–2022. The Armed Forces must continue to be supplied with new hardware but on a planned basis. We will climb this mountain of the greatest portion of funding and then go down later. By that time it is absolutely vital to make sure that the scale of civilian production is enough to utilise the industrial capacity acquired today so as to retain workers and increase their salaries. This is not an easy task for any defence plant. Your executives are thinking about this and have relevant plans. I hope they will be carried out.
Remark: Mr President, I am in charge of a production unit. My name is Larisa. What are your impressions of our plant?
Vladimir Putin: Very good.
Remark: Did you like it here?
Vladimir Putin: Of course, this is the first thing I said. It is not my first time here. And, you know, when you compare what was here before with what is here now you feel a big difference. It is pleasant to work here and the quality of products is going up. Needless to say, it has always been high but today it is being upgraded to an entirely new level. You are expanding the manufacture of your traditional products: combat and civilian arms, as well as guns for hunting and sport. I was surprised to learn – honestly, I didn’t know this before – that many foreign shooting teams use our arms. This shows that… Why do they prefer our arms? This means they are better than those of other countries. Credit for this goes to you. I wish success to all of you.