President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon.
Mr Bugayev, let’s begin with a movement the entire country can see: the volunteer movement. Young people are proactively involved in this work, and they are very effective. Please, let us begin with this and then talk about your agency’s other activities.
Head of the Federal Agency for Youth Affairs Alexander Bugayev: Mr President,
Of course, the volunteer movement is a phenomenon of today’s life, the life of young people. The Year of the Volunteer held in line with your instruction was its driver.
Today, amid the pandemic, I believe the volunteer movement is seeing unprecedented development: for example, there was the We are Together event, when over 120,000 volunteers came together to help people in difficult situations, and medical workers volunteered to work in hospitals’ red zones. In fact, this is the embodiment of the traditional moral and spiritual values that have always been inherent in all ethnic groups and religions of our large country. We believe the volunteer movement is a modern manifestation of these values, and, of course, we support it.
The Education national project and the Social Activity federal project are aimed first of all at creating the infrastructure to support the volunteer movement.
Vladimir Putin: Is your agency in touch with these organisations? Do you support them or hold joint events? Do they ask you to support their initiatives?
Alexander Bugayev: Mr President, we support this work very actively. Of course, they ask for our support, and an entire range of volunteer organisations, such as Medical Volunteers, the Association of Volunteer Centres, Volunteers of Victory and the Russian Search Movement, receive state support to implement their projects and programmes.
This is very important, because it also includes educational work. For example, the Russian Search Movement carries out enormous work as part of the celebrations of the 75th anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War. We also help with funding, information and organisation.
Our colleagues working in the regions of the Russian Federation implementing the state youth policy there are deeply involved in this. One of the examples is the Region of Good Deeds programme recently launched as part of the measures to implement national projects. It is a programme for co-financing the creation and support of volunteer centres in various Russian regions. But what is important here and what we follow very closely is to avoid imposing anything on young people. They need to form their own agenda. Nothing should be done for the youth without their involvement. This means their requests are the cue for us, and we just create the right conditions for their development and self-realisation.
Vladimir Putin: Good.
What else would you like to focus on? What else would you like to discuss?
Alexander Bugayev: Mr President, it is certainly very important for us to expand our programmes’ coverage, not only greater coverage of our traditional target audiences, which have fared very well at such events, such as the World Festival of Youth and Students [in Sochi], for example. It is important to engage new audiences by expanding age ranges and groups.
And here we start working with our partners from elementary school age. We coordinate the Russian Movement of Schoolchildren programme launched on your instruction. The Bolshaya Peremena contest – over 1 million participants, an absolutely unprecedented and remarkable initiative. My First Business, a competition for schoolchildren who want to start up their own business is held on the Russia – Land of Opportunity platform.
The next age bracket is 18–30. This group has different interests. But again, for example, there is the Dobro.ru portal with more than two million users – an aggregator of volunteer activities in our country.
The National League of Student Clubs programme has been launched for students. Its target audience is the kids who are engaged in informal activities, such as informal student clubs; there are a lot of them.
And, of course, the National Forum Campaign, which was held both offline and online this year despite the pandemic and the challenges we faced. By the way, this way we have significantly expanded our audience: up to 1.5 million will take part in these two forums this year.
Traditional forums, such as Territory of Meanings, Tavrida and Mashuk as well as an entire range of other events, have been held and are still going on because we had to postpone them in these conditions.
Vladimir Putin: This is bad timing for students.
Alexander Bugayev: All these events are first of all educational. This is not an entertainment but educational platforms.
Vladimir Putin: This has to be compatible with what they study at their main educational institution.
Alexander Bugayev: This is necessary, of course, because studies come above all. However, it is also important to carry this on after the forums are over. For example, an educational project for the best graduates of youth forums has already been launched at such platforms as the Senezh Management Studio. And now, when such youth education centres as Senezh, Tavrida and Mashuk in the North Caucasus will be built as part of the federal project, we will be able to introduce a system of year-round education, something like advanced training for young people. We are actively working on this, too.
Vladimir Putin: How many young people were there at these centres this summer and how many remain there to work?
Alexander Bugayev: Offline, about 50,000 people.
We had to decrease the number of participants, because we work in close cooperation with our colleagues from the Federal Service for the Oversight of Consumer Protection and Welfare and heads of Russian regions, and the epidemiological situation is different everywhere.
Vladimir Putin: Has these centres’ work been impacted by the epidemiological situation in any way?
Alexander Bugayev: Of course, the epidemiological situation was considered when forums were held. All the necessary measures were taken: the forum participants were tested and had to stay in preliminary self-isolation until the test results arrived. Only those who were cleared were allowed to attend the forum.
Vladimir Putin: Was there no impact? No outbreaks?
Alexander Bugayev: Fortunately not.
Vladimir Putin: Good.