President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon.
Mr Komissarov, your organisation was established in 2018, wasn’t it?
General Director of ANO Russia – Land of Opportunity Alexei Komissarov: Yes, in May, three years ago.
Vladimir Putin: Yes, in order for people to increase their social mobility and to have more opportunities for raising their level and achieving certain goals in life. Much has been done during this period of time.
What is your own assessment of the path that has been traversed? What do you see as most important today and in the days ahead?
Alexei Komissarov: Thank you very much, Mr President.
You have repeatedly stated that people are our country’s key asset. They are indeed talented, caring and highly motivated.
The systemic work that is being pursued at your initiative, the work to identify, promote and develop talents, is yielding good results. In 2017, you took the decision to launch the Leaders of Russia contest. The same year, we launched a programme to train a personnel reserve at the Higher School of State Administration, RANEPA, dubbed the “school of governors” by the media.
In your 2018 Address to the Federal Assembly, you noted that a single platform was necessary. In fact, on May 22 you signed an Executive Order on the creation of the Autonomous Non-Profit Organisation Russia – Land of Opportunity. We have a mission that sounds rather serious: “We are creating Russia’s future, opening equal opportunities for everyone.”
Much has been done during these three-odd years. With your permission, I will share some figures and facts. These, incidentally, cover what has been done since the Supervisory Board’s meeting that you chaired in March, not only during these three years. There are changes in evidence. But first, I would like to share some sociological data.
Polls show that 64 percent of our people believe that young people have an opportunity to realise their potential in Russia, to put their talents to use, and to succeed in life. As for those who took part in our projects, 93 percent think this.
83 percent of the contestants said that taking part in our projects had a positive effect on their personal fulfilment, 65 percent said it helped them find their vocation, 97 percent mentioned the positive effect of our projects, 78 percent said their self-confidence had been boosted and 50 percent said that they have become happier. And it was not us conducting the polls, it was VTsIOM who are independent.
Not only people in Russia can see the effect of your initiative; there is global evidence of this. For example, Russia moved eight places up in the GTCI (Global Talent Competitiveness Index) rating during the past three years. Moreover, the index includes many variables, several dozen, and for some of them Russia’s growth was even higher. For example, Russia moved 20 places up in access to growth opportunities.
Overall, we are implementing 26 projects, in which over 8 million people have participated. More than 26,000 won competitions and received prizes – you met with the youngest of them recently, on July 14. The children in Artek camp were the finalists and winners of the Bolshaya Peremena contest.
Vladimir Putin: Will they travel to the Far East?
Alexei Komissarov: Yes, they will have a marvellous train trip from Moscow to Vladivostok. You have seen how wonderful, bright, talented and lovely these youngsters are.
Over 3.5 million people took part in our contest over the past two years, school children for whom this is really important. School leavers can choose from a great number of our other projects. For example, those who have a knack for IT can choose Digital Breakthrough. We also have the Masters of Hospitality and Mentorship contests, plus TopBLOG for bloggers. As I already mentioned, we are running 26 projects.
During a meeting of the Supervisory Board of the Russia – Land of Opportunity in March, you supported the children’s idea and instructed us to launch a project for university students, similar to Bolshaya Peremena. We did it; we have launched the Your Move project. Over half a million participants have already registered for it.
We have a project for people in the next age group, our flagship project Leaders of Russia, for those who have some managerial experience. The winners are in great demand. During the project, some 300 participants have been appointed to responsible positions, including two governors, six deputy federal ministers, four mayors, plus vice-presidents of large companies, directors and head hospital doctors.
Let me tell you about a few examples that happened just after our previous meeting at the Supervisory Board. For example, competition winner Yevgeny Grigoryev was elected Yakutsk Mayor in March. On June 29, the youngest winner of the second season of the competition, Ignat Petukhov, was appointed Deputy Governor of Orenburg Region. The winner of the third season, Darya Grits, became Vice-Rector for Education at the Sirius University of Science and Technology in July. Winner of the Science track Andrei Neznamov became Managing Director of the Sber Artificial Intelligence Governance Centre in April. There were a lot of appointments.
In fact, I prepared a list of appointments of the winners of our various projects within several months. At the same time, what is nice, our participants think not only about themselves, not only about their careers, but also about how to help others. As for Leaders of Russia, the winners created their own club, Elbrus, and are engaged in volunteer, charity and educational activities and have already changed and influenced the lives of several hundred thousand people. Participants in our other projects have also joined them. Especially in these difficult pandemic times, they helped the elderly, doctors and all those who needed help.
The online stage of the fourth season of Leaders of Russia has been completed, and soon there will be finals for all tracks, including the International track, which was also launched in pursuance of your instruction following the Supervisory Board meeting.
We received about 11,000 applications from 150 countries, which really amazed me. It is incredible: 150 countries have shown an interest in this competition. It is probably not all that surprising, because the prizes there are substantial. Thanks to your decision, finalists can apply for a simplified residence permit, and winners are even eligible for Russian citizenship. In fact, we have not found such examples anywhere in the world, where participants are transparently selected to obtain such opportunities. It seems to me that this is very important.
In 2020, the Leaders of Russia: Politics competition took place for the first time. Almost 34,000 applications were submitted for this competition. Forty-nine people became winners. I would like to note that 26 of them are now registered as candidates for the State Duma from different parties, but primarily from United Russia. This is important because, on the one hand, we believe that this is an indicator that our winners are in demand in public politics, and on the other, United Russia is indeed renewing itself and looking for young and talented politicians.
Moreover, the winners do not only go to the State Duma. There are several more examples of appointments over these months: Maxim Dreval became the head of Znaniye [Knowledge] Society, which was revived by your decision; Roman Karmanov headed the Foundation for Cultural Initiatives; Alexei Koshel became the Acting Rector of the Far Eastern Federal University. There are other examples.
The best of the best enroll at the Governors’ School or the Graduate School for Public Administration, affiliated with the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration. In effect, this programme is the top level of a system for selecting and training talented and determined people that has been created by you.
You have recently met with graduates from the fourth group. I would like to recall that 305 people have graduated to date, including 39 governors, five federal ministers, deputy speakers of the Federation Council and the State Duma, 32 deputy federal ministers and mayors of megacities.
In effect, our work is organised in such a way as to involve as many people as possible, especially young people, in our projects. Later, we choose the best students and allow them to develop further. Today, everyone has to study, no matter what.
Vladimir Putin: And permanently.
Alexei Komissarov: Yes, and permanently. For this purpose, we have the Senezh Education Centre with overlapping programmes: One programme ends, and another has already begun.
We offer the most diverse programmes involving winners of our projects and deputy governors, and regional youth policy ministers have studied there recently. Female leaders study at our Centre, inspectors for youth affairs, medical volunteers and even members of the State Council’s working groups have gathered there. And the large-scale youth forum Territory of Meanings is held each summer. People learn many interesting and useful things there.
I would like to note that we cooperate constructively with many organisations and agencies, including Sirius, the Agency for Strategic Initiatives and the Znaniye Society, the Russian Popular Front, and all kinds of ministries. There is high demand, especially for Senezh programmes. At the same time, our current capacities are rather limited: We have one auditorium for 120 people and five small lecture rooms. I would like to thank you for the decision to build a new campus, which will allow us to meet this substantial demand and to organise many more educational programmes.
I would like to thank you personally, members of the Supervisory Council, partners and our mentors who invest a lot in our young people on behalf of our Russia – Land of Opportunity team, the team of the Graduate School for Public Administration, our participants, winners and medalists of all our projects. I want to thank them for providing such all-out support to our work.
I would like to present you with this book Why is Russia a Land of Opportunity? It is a book with quotations by our participants. I would like to read out one of them, if I may. I will tell you a secret: when I feel low, I read quotes from our participants, from 10-year-old girls and boys to seasoned elders, and I feel instant relief. My fatigue is gone; I get a boost of energy and want to move forward.
Probably, you remember that I spoke at our supervisory council about one of our participants, 89-year-old Granny Zhenya. May I read a short quote?
Vladimir Putin: Please do, of course.
Alexei Komissarov: “Russia for me is a land of opportunities. First, I love my homeland very much. Second, it loves me, too. I am almost 90 but I continue living an active life. I try new things and receive magic presents of fortune in response. I gain new knowledge, use it in practice, share it with others and derive enormous pleasure from the ensuing change. Get up from your couches, make the first step into the unknown and expect miracles. I take part in contests and win, and these victories fill my heart with happiness. I know that as long as my heart beats, I will use all the opportunities that come my way. Love life and all the people around you.”
I do not know, Mr President, if you have moments of fatigue but if you ever do, browse through this book and feel invigorated by our participants. Thank you very much.”
Vladimir Putin: A wonderful example. How many people work in your company?
Alexei Komissarov: If we count in Senezh, and it is a large structure, there are 300 people in all. There are many of us; we are a big team. We always say that our team is even bigger because our participants, including children, are active co-authors of new projects. They invent both assignments and projects.
Currently, on Territory of Meaning, young people suggested new ideas on how to develop the platform and involve more people in the project. In general, these people are doing a great job. So, we have a large team. We always say there are millions of us.
Vladimir Putin: What are your favourite projects?
Alexei Komissarov: Well, it is the most difficult question for me because I am so happy doing all these projects. I like every one of them. Sometimes, children inspire me, of course, because we have magic children. I think we have a great future ahead because our children are smart and talented.
People of the “silver age” have stunning energy. They make you think that if they still want so much and do so much, if they …
Vladimir Putin: If they are still going strong…
Alexei Komissarov: Yes, when you have such energy at 89, this is a pick-me-up. The greatest happiness lies in our great people, our land, and tremendous opportunities.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you.