President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Azarov, you have been working for a while and have ample experience and a good understanding of the situation. However, this is a new level of responsibility. How long have you been acting governor?
Acting Governor of Samara Region Dmitry Azarov: For six months, since September 25, Mr President.
Vladimir Putin: How do you feel in this capacity and what is your development plan for the near future?
Dmitry Azarov: We are alert and alive, so to speak. We have a lot of ambitious plans for the current year. Naturally, these include preparations for the FIFA World Cup. I am sure we will be able to use the groundwork of the previous period.
We scored good results last year. The industrial production index finally grew to 1.6 percent, and this is largely owing to AvtoVAZ state support measures because AvtoVAZ increased its production by 17 percent and continues expanding its sales and its niche in the car market. Of course, this played a role.
Mr President, I would like to thank you separately for your decisions on AvtoVAZ. I was there yesterday. People remember it and thank you. Probably, today it would have been difficult to speak about its future, not to mention the prospects of the city of Togliatti, had it not been for the timely support.
Today we are talking about launching new models and there is a demand for new jobs at AvtoVAZ. The plant’s employees are undergoing retraining owing to federal support measures and this gives us certain confidence in Togliatti and the region as a whole.
On a separate note, I would like to thank you for the decisions that were made on giving the aerospace enterprises work, including the heavy-duty rocket. There were many concerns regarding the choice of who would get this contract. Of course, it is important for us that the decision on the lead company was made; and this will be the Progress Rocket Space Centre. The attitude is different now; the people are willing to take on major challenges. There are 18,000 employees at this enterprise.
Vladimir Putin: A major enterprise.
Dmitry Azarov: It is, indeed. Of course, the investment which, including Kuznetsov, is over 35 billion, has created a lot of potential for the future. We are bringing back competencies that we lost at some point, and are now confidently looking to the future.
The production numbers are good as well: we produced 16.3 million tonnes of oil last year and remained in the group of leading regions in terms of this indicator.
Our farm workers had a great harvest, 2.7 million tonnes, which is an impressive number. This is the best year in history in terms of yield. The harvest was greater in 1978, but this number is very close. Of course, such a harvest made us reconsider storage and processing, Mr President. We will work on this, and we are already adjusting the programme to further expand agriculture. Also, we have adjusted our focus, and will, of course, pay more attention to livestock production. We have a lot of potential here that has yet to be tapped.
Mr President, preparations for the World Cup are a special area of focus. People in our region are proud to have been entrusted with this. We will host six matches.
We will need to accelerate our work. We are fully mobilised and are working as a team with the federal customer and the contractor, as a regional team. Of course, this is strong motivation to complete the work in all areas.
Vladimir Putin: Are you lagging behind schedule?
Dmitry Azarov: Mr President, if we are talking about the key site which is the Samara Arena stadium, a catch-up schedule was approved in December. The work must be completed in late March under this schedule.
Recently, Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko and an oversight commission were here. We expect the contractor to fulfil its obligations.
Vladimir Putin: Are you monitoring this process?
Dmitry Azarov: Mr President, I definitely go to the stadium several times a week. There were issues, as always, between the federal contractor and the regional authorities. Today, we are working as one team. All of the regional infrastructure sites will be finished on schedule, everything is ready and on time.
Vladimir Putin: Good.