Excerpts from transcript of meeting of ANO Russia – Land of Opportunity Supervisory Board
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Friends, colleagues, good afternoon.
We are holding a meeting of the Supervisory Board of the Russia – Land of Opportunity autonomous non-profit organisation. It has been operating for four years now, and over this period hundreds of thousands, millions of people have contributed to its work in one way or another. We have people who are directly involved in various initiatives and their implementation – some of them are here in this hall and some will join us via videoconference.
This proved to be a highly relevant, interesting and very useful undertaking. It would be no exaggeration to say that these new projects and ideas have been quite popular among hundreds of thousands of people in Russia. Of course, I would like to thank volunteers for proactively contributing to these efforts.
I would also like to note that people who share our vision from across 150 countries contributed to this undertaking in various ways. To be honest, this came as a big surprise to me. This means that there are many people out there who are on the same page as us, who want to walk the same path, to seek development opportunities together, to be friends and support each other. This demonstrates, yet again, that we are on the right track.
I do not think that I need any lengthy opening remarks. I will pass the floor to our moderator, who heads this organisation [Alexei Komissarov], and afterwards to other participants. I have no doubt that you have things to share with us. For my part, I will do everything I can to answer your questions and support your ideas. You probably have plenty of them, since you are working on specific projects, which is very important.
Please, go ahead.
General Director of Russia – Land of Opportunity autonomous non-profit organisation Alexei Komissarov: Thank you very much, Mr President.
A year has passed since the previous meeting of the Supervisory Board. All the tasks that we discussed in March 2021 and all the instructions that you issued…
Vladimir Putin: So many formalities. Everything must be in order – as it always is in a proper organisation. (Laughter.)
Alexei Komissarov: We have come prepared.
Vladimir Putin: I understand.
Alexei Komissarov: We are successfully fulfilling all the instructions that you issued. Every member of the Supervisory Board can provide an extensive report.
The number of participants in this platform has doubled in the past year, exceeding 10 million. Tens of thousands of our winners got accepted to universities, completed internships and found exciting jobs with the best Russian companies, or received study grants and took part in fascinating and informative trips around the country.
Before you made a decision to create this kind of platform, sociologists had conducted public opinion polls. In 2017, about 35‒39 percent of the population believed that every person in Russia had opportunities to fulfil their potential. As of the beginning of this year, the number of people who believed and were confident that such opportunities existed reached almost 70 percent.
Of course, right now we all are facing new challenges but challenges always present new opportunities. I have no doubts that we can handle any difficulties.
Mr President, I am currently training to become a pilot. Planes always take off against the wind. The stronger the wind blows, the faster and higher a plane can soar after take-off.
I am confident that we will not only pull through these challenges but will see more Mendeleevs, Popovs, Kulibins and Lobachevskys, and our young people will make many brilliant, great world-class discoveries.
We have said many times that people are this country’s main asset. So indeed, as you said, let’s give these young talents a chance to tell us about their achievements.
Ignat Petukhov: My name is Ignat Petukhov, I am Deputy Governor for Economic Policy of the Orenburg Region.
If ten years ago somebody told a kid from the small city of Novouralsk that he would have this job in such an important region, I would not have believed them.
But Russia is truly a land of opportunity. In 2019, after I won the Leaders of Russia competition, the Governor of the Orenburg Region asked me to join his team and supervise investment.
Over three years in the governor’s team, we managed to improve our region’s investment appeal ranking, from the 52nd to the 16th place, created a special economic zone and launched more than 40 large investment projects.
We believe that people are key to the success of any project. Our team includes winners and finalists of various Russia – Land of Opportunity projects. Most importantly, these are people whose leadership potential, professional competencies, knowledge and skills were tested.
We had a discussion and we think it would be great to start a staffing agency based on the Russia – Land of Opportunity digital platform, for talented young people who want to build their career trajectory and look for new jobs, and for employers, regional officials and businesses, who want to find talented and creative people with passion in their eyes and, of course, true professionalism. We believe it would be an awesome and amazing initiative.
Vladimir Putin: Sounds amazing.
You know, it was a matter of time for an initiative like this to emerge. Indeed, we can see, from your own story and from the stories of many other young men and women who participated in these efforts, that this project is really relevant. Why? Because many federal government bodies already…
Alexei Komissarov: More than 350 people have already received high-ranking job offers after the Leaders of Russia competition.
Vladimir Putin: The project served as an actual social and career lift. The country really needs this. We can see from experience that it works and achieves results – in this case, new staff. Of course, we should review other aspects of this platform because there are also many talented, interesting and creative people there. It is a great suggestion. I am frankly surprised that we have not come up with it ourselves.
Thank you. We will do that.
Are you in charge of investment?
Ignat Petukhov: The economy and investment.
Vladimir Putin: What do you think is most important and interesting for the Orenburg Region?
Ignat Petukhov: Right now, our local companies are actively working on import substitution. The New Silk Road to China will also pass through our region. Of course, it is a matter of principle to us that we process as much of our own assets (oil, gas and the third largest field in the country) locally. We are launching many projects in the processing industry, including an oil-extracting plant and kaolin (white clay) processing. These projects will, of course, create new jobs and higher wages than in the primary industry.
Vladimir Putin: What are the most interesting and important projects as of today?
Ignat Petukhov: A large oil-extracting plant, a kaolin (white clay) enrichment factory and a dairy plant.
Vladimir Putin: Are these running projects?
Ignat Petukhov: These are the projects that are about to be launched. They are entering the construction, assembly or design phase. These are real projects.
Vladimir Putin: Excellent, thank you.
Diana Krasovskaya: My name is Diana Krasovskaya, I am 12 years old and I am in the seventh grade. I came from Sevastopol. It is a great city, beautiful, comfortable, and special. I have lived there most of my life.
Eight years ago my mother, my older brother and I left the city of my childhood, my Lugansk, because the war broke out there and it was very dangerous to stay. I was not even five years old, and I was very afraid of planes overhead and explosions. You know, I still don't like balloons because they explode loudly. I remember how terribly the siren howled, and people began to run. Then I did not understand what was happening, and it was just scary.
My life has changed a lot over the last eight years. For the second year running now, I am taking part in the Bolshaya Peremena (The Big Change) contest. Last year I chose the Discover Russia area. Russia is an amazing country, but until now I had no chance to travel around. I thought that there were probably children who have never been to Sevastopol. I wanted to talk about my favourite city, as I see it with my eyes, the eyes of a local. I made a short film about Sevastopol, and a lot of people liked it. It was my first small victory in Bolshaya Peremena.
Thanks to the contest, I made a lot of friends from everywhere across Russia, from Moscow to Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk and Kamchatka. These are wonderful, kind, caring people.
When they started to evacuate children from the Lugansk and Donetsk regions to Russia this spring, I remembered myself as a little girl. I knew for sure that they needed our help and support, so together with children from Bolshaya Peremena, I launched the Helping Hand campaign throughout the country. We help children from Donbass to get used to their new school groups, assist them with their studies, collect humanitarian aid, stationery; in general, we do everything to make them comfortable.
And, by the way, there are entire regional teams of Bolshaya Peremena across the country. Children talk with one another, and we have become one large friendly family. It would be great if a common children’s movement arose, which would bring us even closer together.
Vladimir Putin: You said a lot has changed in your life in the eight years since you left Lugansk, right?
Unfortunately, a lot has changed in the Lugansk People's Republic over those years too, only for the worse, because it has seen bombings, artillery strikes, and hostilities. That, of course, was very, very difficult for people.
In Crimea though, in Sevastopol, people’s lives have been very different; this much is obvious. But the tragedy that befell Donbass, including the Lugansk People's Republic, has actually made Russia launch this military operation that everyone is well aware of today; that tragedy simply left us no choice. First of all, as I said at the very beginning, the purpose of this operation is exactly to help our people living in Donbass, people like you. We will act consistently and achieve a situation where life will gradually return to normal there, and will change for the better, just as it happened for you, to your life in Sevastopol.
And the fact that you and your friends have organised this initiative, Helping Hand, is definitely really great, and I would like to thank you for it. You, like no one else, can understand how important this is for children, for the children from Donbass – from the Lugansk Republic or from the Donetsk Republic. Because they have really found themselves in what we call a difficult life situation; you cannot call it anything else. This is the most difficult life situation. So thank you very much. These kids are probably thanking you too, and their parents, and I want to thank you for this. This is the first point.
Second, about launching a children's movement – we have different focus areas. If we stay on the military topic, there is the Yunarmiya (Young Army), and so on.
As for an all-Russian movement, of course, we can think about it. It just needs to be done in a non-bureaucratic way, not imposed from the top, rigidly regulated, no. The initiative should come from within, from below, and the only task of the state should be to help and support. Let's think about it from this angle, and the idea is very good.
Diana Krasovskaya: Thank you very much. I believe that peace will come, thanks to Russia.
Vladimir Putin: It will be so.
Inna Koroleva: I am Inna Koroleva, a fashion designer, and I am fond of my business. Mine is a robust small business that has provided people with clothing for the last 15 years. I started from scratch without outside investment and today we are creating clothing for thousands of people. I have created a design bureau that has Russia’s major companies as clients.
Two years ago, I visited Taurida, where I became inspired and launched a fashion brand of my own. It was profitable within a year; more than that, it has helped us to weather the COVID-19 pandemic.
Today, everyone is asking whether we will be able to replace imports. My reply is: we are ready. You know, my dream is that at long last, it will be fashionable and prestigious to wear what Russian designers and producers have to offer.
I would like to suggest that the words “Made in Russia” become a brand and mark of quality both in this country and all over the world. This is my first point. Of course, we will have to make up for a lot of things that have been lost. I mean fabrics, skilled personnel, and more. Young people need support too.
Second, I would like to invite you to Taurida so that you can see how many creative and talented young people there are in this country, people we can work with.
Third, I would like to present this jacket to you. We have made it at our factory with our own hands. We will pass it to you later.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much.
What you are doing certainly can and should be absolutely successful in terms of import substitution. It is necessary to give more attention, time, money, and government support to creating the relevant materials, fabrics, and equipment.
But in the final analysis, your success is based on creative principles, and these creative principles are in rapport with the general culture of society, where these developments are taking place. What I mean is: it is no coincidence that some European countries like France or Italy have famous fashion houses. Why? Because this creative principle is rather well developed over there. I am referring to pictorial art and other arts. This has a direct bearing on fashion design activity.
In this sense, we have a huge potential, because there are many talented and creative people brought up – this is the gist of the matter – on Russian culture, which is certainly a part of world culture – one of the most important parts of world culture. This is the main thing: this stratum is very deep here.
True, we will have to make an additional effort to develop technologies and materials. But, I repeat, we have very many talented people. As for fashion design, I am now certain that it is a kind of art, although, honestly speaking, I did not think so before.
As far as state support is concerned, we will certainly render it. Right now, I will not enumerate all types of support for small and medium-sized businesses. You are undoubtedly in the small and medium-sized business category. We will think about this and will offer solutions. We will develop them in every way.
If some companies are leaving our market, they should know that nature abhors a vacuum. I look forward to Russian designers and producers filling this vacuum. We will help them.
Vladimir Putin (Commenting on a narrative by Marat Naskhutdinov from Ufa, who won the Masters of Hospitality competition, on how he is developing the Bashkir national fast food industry. He said that major foreign fast food chains are now leaving the Russian market, but that no one will go hungry, and that he was ready to address this issue.) In the broader context of implementing your initiatives, I can tell you that many say they are leaving the Russian market, but they stay.
Marat Naskhutdinov: Yes, I have noticed.
Vladimir Putin: Indeed, major opportunities will open up if they leave, and the market will accommodate new players. I am 100 percent confident that the substitution of foreign owners and manufacturers will improve the quality of services for Russian citizens. I am 100 percent confident.
We should face the facts: many of them use Russian foodstuffs and this is true. About 50, 60 and sometimes 90 percent of foreign owners of these fast food companies use Russian food products. They did the right thing because the quality of these foods is much better than in Europe because European outlets use too many chemicals, pesticides, etc. Russia has much tougher standards for using these preparations.
In any event, we will support the development of these projects; to the best of my knowledge, tax benefits were introduced from January 1 this year, VAT liability has been suspended, and we will continue to search for other incentives to promote these activities because it includes a sphere that remains in high demand every day. All Russian citizens need this because everyone needs to eat several times a day. Consequently, your work is important.
We realise that, especially during the pandemic period, many companies have found themselves in a difficult financial situation, and we intend to continue supporting all aspects of organising the restaurant sector. There are various proposals and ideas for new projects, and much has already been done. We will certainly continue to keep this in mind; we will assist you in every way we can.
Marat Naskhutdinov: Thank you very much.
Vladimir Putin: Speaking of Russia’s national cuisines, this is also part of our culture. I am not kidding. A national cuisine is part of every nation’s culture and a distinguishing feature of any nation or ethnic group. Russia offers great cultural diversity, and cuisines are always at hand and are always around. As I said, this is part of any nation’s culture. This is very interesting and delicious, and I would be happy to order something.
Marat Naskhutdinov: Thank you, we will deliver your order.
Vladimir Putin: Do you send orders elsewhere? I will order something; it’s not hard to do in Ufa.
Marat Naskhutdinov: So far, we only deliver food in Ufa, but we can send your order to Moscow.
Vladimir Putin: I will certainly try your food. Thank you very much.
Alexei Komissarov: You said in the beginning that people from 150 countries participated in the international track of the Leaders of Russia contest. We were, of course, amazed by the fact that 70 people came to compete in the contest’s final stage, which was held just recently, in late March, despite all the obstacles and barriers, logistical challenges and other issues they had to face in their countries.
I would like to pass the floor to Mikhail Goryanoi. He is a German national, works in China, and won the Leaders of Russia international track.
Vladimir Putin: You said he works in China?
Mikhail Goryanoi: Indeed. I have been working there for a long time now.
Vladimir Putin: Ni hao.
Mikhail Goryanoi: Ni hao. Good afternoon, Mr President.
In fact, I have been waiting for the opportunity to take part in the international track of the Leaders of Russia contest for a very long time. Thank you so much for this opportunity.
I have been following this contest for quite some time, so when I got this opportunity, I had no doubt that I wanted to be part of it. I instantly found myself in a very competitive environment, since I was among 10,000 contestants who registered for the international track. And I know very well what it means to be in a competitive environment, since I studied in Germany, at the University of Bonn. Nobel Prize winner Reinhard Selten taught us, so there was a lot of competition among students from day one.
As for the contest itself, it started with online stages, after which the finalists gathered at the Pashkov House in Moscow. I came there from China, where I have been living for quite a while now. I also lived in Japan for some time, and learned some Japanese.
Vladimir Putin: But how did you find yourself in Germany?
Mikhail Goryanoi: My parents made this decision.
Vladimir Putin: When did you leave, what year?
Mikhail Goryanoi: Back in 1999. I was born in Dnepropetrovsk, USSR.
Vladimir Putin: I see. Then you went on to work in China and Japan? For how long?
Mikhail Goryanoi: I completed my studies in Germany, then lived in Japan for some time, mostly studying, and then went back to Germany. I started working in China long before it became mainstream. The way China transformed itself…
Vladimir Putin: What do you do in China?
Mikhail Goryanoi: I started in marketing, helping Chinese companies tap European, African, Asian, Russian and CIS markets. I chose this path and created my own business down the road. I worked for state corporations, including in the metals sectors, and in a number of other industries. All these aspirations came together to form a kind of synergy.
I have been witnessing China’s development over this time. It has been developing at an astonishing pace. We all know that outside forces wanted to stop this growth and development, but China withstood this pressure.
In this sense, I believe that this resonates with the current situation. I have a feeling that China and its people really respect Russia for its commitment to an independent policy and following its own course. In this context, both my experience and that of China could be very useful and relevant today.
I have been working with Russian exporters for a long time, as well as with entire regions seeking to gain a foothold in the Chinese market. I think that experience in entering the Chinese market and harnessing the export potential, fully unlocking it and generating further momentum is extremely useful and relevant today, since many people, companies and even regions now want to work with China without necessarily understanding how to do it.
Vladimir Putin: Logistics really matter. Logistics, plus knowing local laws.
Mikhail Goryanoi: So, we are overcoming language barriers: enough Russians speak Chinese and enough Chinese people speak Russian. We have apps and computer models. However, some cultural barriers still remain. There is a common language denominator, but there are also cultural and regulatory aspects that we need to explain in greater detail. I think that these efforts are not always timely. This is the first point.
There is also personal experience. I often get in close contact with our fellow Russians abroad. More and more frequently they express willingness to return to Russia, to work and live in Russia, to work for the benefit and prosperity of Russia. But they constantly have doubts. And I really wish my example were an example for them because the Leaders of Russia contest has been a kind of culmination of my long way home. And it would be really nice if I could motivate fellow Russians around the world to do the same.
Vladimir Putin: So, now you live in Moscow, don’t you?
Mikhail Goryanoi: For a month now.
I know that for the majority of my colleagues, it was rather difficult, especially in the current circumstances, to move back, logistically and for other reasons. However, we did our best and around 70 people eventually made it back to Moscow.
Vladimir Putin: Do you find your place in this? It is a tremendous amount of work. I will not go into detail. You know it yourself.
China is our biggest trade and economic partner among foreign countries, with more than $100 billion in mutual trade. And that does not include major projects related to oil, gas, aviation, machine engineering, nuclear energy and other industries. But in today’s conditions, small and medium-sized businesses have many opportunities to join a great variety of projects, on both sides.
Do you see yourself here, building this cooperation?
Mikhail Goryanoi: I believe that my experience is quite extensive and could be useful here. If you give permission, I will be happy and ready to offer my experience in this area.
In addition to sharing my experience, I would like people around the world who want to come back to Russia to realise that it is possible, it is needed, helpful and noble. I think in that, I succeeded.
Vladimir Putin: I want to wish you all the best. These efforts are indeed needed and noble. They must be relevant to certain people. You seem to have found your place. This is a mainstream area, no doubt about that.
Many people who come back – and there are quite a few – work in education and science. For our part, we must create conditions for the people who want to work here and fulfil their potential. We must do it.
Of course, a person’s success also depends on their own efforts. They need to find their niche. I hope you have found it or will find it. We will do what we can to support you.
Mikhail Goryanoi: Thank you, I appreciate it.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you. Good luck.
Vladimir Putin (commenting on the idea of Lipetsk teacher Alla Volkova to spread the experimental post of School Director Adviser on Education throughout Russa): As for school director advisers on education, the experiment is underway in 10 Russian regions and is to be spread to 35 regions next year – Mr Kravtsov will correct me if I am wrong in this regard. Overall, it should be put into effect throughout the country.
Mr Kravtsov, please.
Minister of Education Sergei Kravtsov: Yes, Mr President, you are absolutely right. We can see that the atmosphere in schools is changing, with a caring attitude to extracurricular activities leading to the establishment of new hobby groups and sports sections. In other words, this work should proceed on a larger scale, first in 35 regions and then throughout the country.
Vladimir Putin: Well, I would like to say that it is a very difficult job. In the current conditions, when schoolchildren have unlimited access to the internet, it is very difficult to help our young people find their bearings in the ocean of information. In this situation, school director advisers on education must themselves satisfy the high requirements set to their attitude to and work with the people, with young people and schoolchildren, so that these advisers are more interesting than the internet and the buckets of grisly information it provides. It is a very difficult job, and we need people who are clearly aware of the importance of their work and the responsibility this involves. We need people who are enthusiastic, or there will be problems, because simple rubberstamping will damage the project and compromise its idea.
Therefore, I would like to ask Mr Kravtsov and all our other colleagues in this sphere to keep this in mind. It is not just another line in the list of positions; educating our children is a special and extremely important mission. Of course, education should begin in the family, but children spend so much time at school, which is why we need people they can respect, people who can awaken their interest, get children involved and become an authority for them.
I know that this is difficult to do, especially in a world taken over by the internet. But we must do it. I agree that we must not let things take their course. We must help our young people find their bearings in the barrage of information, help them see the main elements, the reference points and top priorities, shut out things of secondary importance, separate lies from the truth, and see the real values. It is a challenging job. We need enthusiastic people. I strongly hope that we will succeed.
Alexei Komissarov: Let us also give the floor to our final participant, Dmitry Cheshev.
Dmitry is the winner of our TopBLOG contest. Dmitry, please.
Dmitry Cheshev: Good afternoon, Mr President.
Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, Dima.
Dmitry Cheshev: Today bloggers – and I am from the TopBLOG project – are very concerned that the world of social media is changing: some platforms are being replaced by others. Of course, everyone is afraid that they will lose their audiences.
We were taught at the TopBLOG project that the main thing is not the number of subscribers but the value you have. If you are really sincere, useful and interesting, people will stay with you. I think you understand this very well.
I started my blog in 2021, when I became disabled. I am an athlete; I was doing a usual somersault in the gym, then an unsuccessful fall, a broken neck, and spinal cord injury. In an instant, I was paralysed.
In my blog, I talk about life, motivation, and how I am learning to walk again. My story inspires many people. Many of them do not have any health problems but everyone has a dream. Strength is necessary to achieve this dream. I help them to find this strength. I am also very inspired and motivated by these activities. Today I cannot give it up because subscribers need my experience.
It is generally believed that bloggers mostly entertain and do something for hype, but today teachers and doctors become bloggers and they create truly important social content, they educate and help people. In today’s situation, they also need our help and support, so, as they say, friends, like and subscribe to such useful bloggers, because we need to attract maximum attention to such people who make meaningful content now, at this moment.
It would be even better if we could gather them together. These are thousands of talented and ambitious people who change the life of the country and each one of us every day. Next year the Russia – Land of Opportunity forum turns five, and if it is possible to organise a large forum that we could all attend, everyone who graduated over these five years. These people would exchange experience and knowledge, but most importantly, I am sure they would definitely come up with new ideas on how to improve the life of the country.
Vladimir Putin: Good idea. Dima. Can I ask you a question? What sports did you do and where did you get injured?
Dmitry Cheshev: I was a swimmer and I was injured during a training session, let us say gymnastics training for swimming, among other things, during a usual somersault. You know, there is a saying: if I knew where I’d fall, I’d put straw there. It was an excellent gym, with great safety standards, but, as they say, nothing can guarantee you 100 percent safety, so this happened.
Vladimir Putin: Unfortunately, this happens in sports. A university friend of mine died at a competition, when he was performing a forward throw. It happens, unfortunately. But it is great that you have found yourself despite this major injury. As I understand, you have a very complicated competitive environment, because, I am sorry, but it is very easy to engage in smear practices online, and, regrettably, this ease helps to attract subscribers in droves. But the wish to make money at any cost, including on advertisements, by drawing a certain number of people, this type of activity, cannot, of course, be called noble. It is clear why, so there is no need to go into detail.
But if a person like you is able to fascinate your subscribers with interesting, beautiful and understandable ideas or projects, this is different and requires peace of mind and a high level of training – broad-based knowledge, high inner culture, and, of course, expertise. If people like you succeed in winning subscribers over from those who engage in smear practices, this is, without any exaggeration, a matter of national importance. We must do all we can to support people like you, doing this meticulously, unobtrusively, and without reliance on any additional administrative resources, and we will try to do this.
Dmitry Cheshev: There are a great many people of this kind – teachers, who educate people, doctors, scientists… They inspire others so much that people want to follow them.
Vladimir Putin: Yes, I know.
Dmitry Cheshev: Everyone wants attention. I urge everyone: do pay attention to them, because they are working for a very important cause. This is my first point. Second, at this turning point, they need your attention, but later they will be helping you by educating and inspiring you and by giving you the knowledge that you will never obtain anywhere else.
Vladimir Putin: Yes, you are right. I fully subscribe to this.
I also subscribe to your proposal to hold at a good level an event dedicated to the fifth anniversary of the Russia – Land of Opportunity platform.
To all of you, I would like to wish success and I want to thank you for your work – both those who are present here now, at the Kremlin’s St Catherine Hall, and those who are in contact with us in the regions of the Russian Federation.
Thank you very much and all the best.
Thank you. Goodbye.