President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues,
Today, we will discuss further efforts to ensure law and order and public security in the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics, and in the Zaporozhye and Kherson regions.
This is of course a multifaceted issue that is directly linked to Russia’s national security and sovereignty and the prospects for the development of these regions. Most importantly, it is related to the lives of millions of people who are going through serious and severe trials.
Our goal is to integrate these historically Russian lands of Donbass and Novorossiya into the economic, legal and education space of our country as soon as possible.
Efforts are already being made to restore housing, roads, education, cultural and healthcare facilities. Industrial and agricultural businesses and enterprises are being relaunched, new jobs are created, pensions and benefits are paid on a regular basis. The preferential mortgage programme with an interest rate of 2 percent is now available.
As you know, I visited Mariupol recently and reviewed the progress of recovery. Construction is being conducted on a large scale, and people are working even at night. You can see that the city is changing, but it is important to carry out positive changes in all cities and villages in all four regions. A long-term programme for the socioeconomic development of these regions of the Russian Federation is being drafted for this purpose. Today, I want to ask Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin to report on what has been completed and what still needs to be done.
At the same time, I will repeat that the situation in these regions remains tense. The Kiev regime continues to commit grave crimes against the local civilian population. They spare no one, subjecting cities and towns to missile strikes, artillery and mortar shelling.
They carry out regular terrorist attacks against government officials and law enforcement officers, journalists, public activists, school and university teachers. The neo-Nazis and their collaborators' activity has expanded beyond the new constituent entities as crimes have been reported in other Russian regions as well. We have every reason to claim that the potential of third countries and Western intelligence services has been used in plotting the sabotage and terrorist attacks.
In addition, purely criminal elements, including organised crime, drug traffickers and financial swindlers, to name a few, are trying to exploit the situation in the DPR, LPR, and the Zaporozhye and Kherson regions.
I would like to emphasise that the Interior Ministry, the Prosecutor's Office, the Investigative Committee and other law enforcement agencies, as well as the special services, should make every effort to ensure the local population can live in safety, to protect people, their security, property, their possessions from crime, illegal actions and violence, including by providing effective support to local entrepreneurs.
It is clear that the entire system for ensuring public security and the rule of law must be built essentially from scratch in the new regions of the Federation. We naturally face various challenges, including organisational problems, which we recently discussed at the end-of-year board meetings of the Prosecutor General's Office, the Federal Security Service and the Ministry of the Interior. Federal agencies and their central offices are providing the necessary support to the regions. I ask you to continue to act in the same way and step up these efforts.
At the same time, it is natural that the territorial units of law enforcement agencies have to shoulder the main burden. They are being created in a difficult situation, in conditions of martial law. Despite this, they are working and performing their duties professionally and courageously. I would like to once again thank law enforcement and other security agencies that protect people from crime and unlawful encroachments, help evacuate civilians from dangerous areas and stand guard over people’s legitimate rights and interests.
Let me remind you that under federal constitutional laws, territorial units of law enforcement agencies and special services in the new Russian constituent entities should be fully operational by June 1, 2023. The more systemic and thorough this effort, the faster people will return to normal life, regulated by Russian laws. Today we will see how this work is going.
As I already noted, it is essential to rely on local personnel as much as possible – on proven professionals, brave people who are principled and familiar with the real situation. I ask the Government and the heads of the relevant federal agencies to take under review all issues related to material support for the new units, and in the future, to provide them with modern equipment and information systems, weapons and means of communication as a matter of priority.
We also need to more actively involve local residents in the work of safeguarding law and order, improving the warning system for security threats, rapidly responding to citizens' appeals and establishing continuous feedback channels.
Obviously, changes will need to be made to the strategic planning documents for law enforcement and public security, so that they fully take into account the regional specifics of the DPR, LPR, the Zaporozhye and Kherson regions, and clearly identify existing threats and risks and the measures needed to neutralise them.
Again, I would like to note that we must focus on fighting crime in all four regions, including the prevention and suppression of grave and particularly grave crimes and the attempts to take possession of other people's property. The share of such crimes among those reported is quite high.
A special emphasis should be placed on trafficking in drugs, weapons, ammunition and explosives. In particular, we need to promptly respond to attempts to take them out of the zone of the special military operation to other Russian regions.
And, of course, it is also necessary to improve the effectiveness of fighting criminal schemes for using information technology. Of course, propaganda and information aggression by the neo-Nazis and their pro-Western patrons should be suppressed, and lies, provocations and juggling the facts aimed at destabilising the socio-political situation in the LPR and the DPR, as well as the Zaporozhye and Kherson regions, must be exposed.
Overall, I would like to emphasise that under martial law, which is still in force in the new constituent entities of the Federation, and in order to ensure citizens’ rights and freedoms, it is necessary to establish effective interaction between the executive authorities of the regions and military command, law enforcement agencies and special services, to create regional interagency collective bodies under the top officials and to organise their system-wide work.
Here is what I would like to emphasise: the enemy is using its holdover underground forces, including various neo-Nazi and other radical groups, to intimidate people. This is where you need to act in a strong and efficient manner. Control over the situation must be reliably ensured.
The vast majority of people in the new regions have not only made their conscious historical choice to stand for unity with Russia, but also to honestly and courageously fulfil their duty, resume production, engage in business and work at hospitals, nurseries, schools, universities, housing and utilities enterprises in cities, towns and villages, local authorities and law enforcement agencies. They must know, see and sense that our entire, large country stands behind them, and we must do our best to protect them.
Everything I said today, right now, is not easy, but quite solvable issues, and you are aware that we have successful experience of such work and all the resources that are needed to resolve the objectives at hand.
Let's get started. Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin is our next speaker.
Please, Mr Khusnullin.
Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin: Mr President, colleagues,
Mr President, as per your instructions on setting up a working group and coordinating reconstruction efforts, we have aligned the operation of the headquarters of all the law enforcement and security agencies and concerned ministries and departments jointly with the regions. The Construction Ministry is supervising these cooperation efforts at the level of headquarters on a daily basis.
As for the results we have achieved so far, I can say that we have built, renovated and reconstructed 9,500 facilities. Approximately 4,500 of them are the energy facilities and utility networks that were to be launched into operation in time for the heating season. Our priority task was to supply electricity, gas, heat and other utility services to the people despite the continuing shelling of the infrastructure and explosions on the service lines, as you have said.
I can tell you that we have fulfilled this task almost in full. By the beginning of winter, we commissioned almost all the necessary facilities and buildings. To do that, we made use of all the available resources both in the given regions and in their patron regions. To date, 56 regions have assumed responsibility for the facilities in their spheres of operation and for preparing them for the winter season. Altogether, they are working at 48,000 facilities and 11,000 kilometres of service lines.
To date, the biggest amount of work, or nearly 4,500 facilities, has been completed by energy companies, which continue working.
Our gas providers have accomplished a great deal as well; they have restored hundreds of kilometres of existing gas pipelines and have built a 72-kilometre connecting gas pipeline towards Melitopol, thereby creating a gas supply system that is independent of Ukraine. To this end, they have built a gas pumping station in Kerch, Crimea, very quickly, within a matter of four months, which is being used to supply gas to Crimea and to ensure the necessary gas pressure for gas provided to the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions.
A great deal has been done to prepare residential blocks for the winter season. We have prepared thousands of houses, and in total this amounts to 48,000 sites.
On a separate note, I would like to say a few words about efforts underway in Mariupol. You have been there in person and saw the extent of destruction the city has suffered. You know this well. However, today we can already say that preparations for the winter season were completed on time for 1,529 sites out of a total of 1,800, including social and cultural institutions, as well as housing. Today, we can say in all confidence that all these buildings will get heating during the cold season.
We continue working around the clock. There are now 21,000 people working in Mariupol, down from a peak of 34,000. Ahead of New Year, we had to mobilise human resources from all regions, and to call in state contractors to deliver on these tasks.
I also wanted to note that we have a major undertaking ahead of us to repair single-family homes. As of today, we have restored just 11,000 homes, so we will need to step up these efforts in the foreseeable future. We have taken all the necessary decisions to this effect.
We have gone to great lengths to improve water supply. Our adversaries wanted to impose a water blockade on us by blowing up water supply intake canals and the existing waterways. But despite all this, we built a total of seven water ducts to cover the basic needs in water.
At the same time, there was a decision to build a separate water line from the Don to Donetsk, about 200 kilometres long, in order to ensure that Donbass has the water it needs, and you approved this decision. We have never built a duct this long so quickly, in just over five months, with a capacity of almost 300,000 cubic metres.
Today, construction has been completed and it is in the testing and adjustment stage and being filled with water. In this context, I would like to extend our deep gratitude to the military builders – they were the ones who did this work. Power suppliers, Rosseti, installed power supply very quickly, so Donetsk and its suburbs will receive water soon. In addition, as I have already said, we built several more ducts and water supply infrastructure, in fact several dozen kilometres.
Much has been done to rebuilt roads and create new ones. We built or upgraded over 300 kilometres of roads linking Crimea to Rostov within a very short timeframe, giving us a new motorway in addition to the Crimean bridge.
In this regard, I would like to note the National Guard’s role in protecting road infrastructure. Not only have we built and restored bridges, but ensured that we control them, took them under our protection. I would also like to note that the National Guard has been doing a lot these days to defend and secure these structures, as well as the people working there.
This year, we plan to build at least 700 to 800 kilometres of roads. We are drafting a programme to bring at least 50 percent of the regional road network up to standard within three years, just like in the Russian Federation. This means 21,000 kilometres of roads.
The federal budget will pay for 1,000 kilometres covering the main roads to our border regions. We have already identified the contractors. As of today, repairs and construction are already underway with old pavement removed on 273 kilometres. We will definitely fulfil these plans by the end of the year.
I would like to dwell separately on communications projects. We have now installed 2,760 base stations, and there are plans to launch 2,200 other communications stations in 2023. The quality of communications networks leaves a lot to be desired. The Ministry of Digital Development is implementing a separate programme, and we are monitoring it. I hope that we will drastically improve the situation in the communications sector in the near future. We have facilitated the work of 1,092 post offices in the four regions.
I would like to note separately the large-scale work of the Emergencies Ministry, from the very first day, especially where hostilities had just ended or were still ongoing. They delivered 370,000 tonnes of humanitarian aid. They organised this work very well, while facing shelling and other risks. We quickly obtained everything that was in short supply from the Federal Agency for State Reserves, and we subsequently replenished our stocks.
We are working hard in the social sector. As of today, almost 400,000 people have received 10,000-ruble lump-sum payments. Over one million people are now receiving pensions. Over three million people, or nearly 64 percent of the regions’ population, receive regular pension payments.
At the same time, it should be noted that this work was mostly organised by local government agencies in highly challenging conditions where people were intimidated, told not to accept money from Russia, and that someone was planning to come back some time in the future. However, we overcame this negative trend. People are now receiving all these payments, and this is now one of the main sources of funding for the territory.
This is highly important work, and we would like to thank our colleagues from the social sector who became actively involved in this effort. The regions are expected to completely make their own payments from the second quarter on.
The Presidential Executive Office actively addressed another highly important project together with the Ministry of Education. It is aimed at preparing kindergartens and schools for the academic year. By September 1, we opened 1,381 schools, 24 universities and 1,230 kindergartens. The Russian National Guard and private security companies guarded them 24 hours a day. This decision was highly important, so that people would not be afraid to study there. The National Guard and local forces organised this work. In fact, it continues in a more streamlined form.
In all, 415 healthcare institutions are functioning on the territory of the new regions. As per your direct instruction, the Defence Ministry has built and opened a multi-functional medical centre in Lugansk and a medical centre in Mariupol. You have personally seen what a wonderful centre the Federal Medical Biological Agency is building. We are also building a huge perinatal centre with an area of 29,000 square metres. The women of Donetsk addressed you, and you issued the relevant instruction. We started working in early 2023, and we are planning to complete this perinatal centre in Donetsk before the year is out.
We delivered 5,500 pieces of equipment, including buses, utility vehicles and special-purpose equipment, to these territories. We worked in highly complicated conditions with the Ministry of Industry and Trade; we sent this equipment because the local equipment had either been wrecked or stolen or was not working.
We organised a large effort to relocate the residents of Kherson and the Kherson Region. In all, 68,000 people were relocated from Kherson, with 53,000 of them obtaining housing certificates so far.
We are granting mortgages at 2 percent interest. Against all odds, we are already moving to start ground-breaking operations at new construction sites. We believe that the construction programme will continue.
Mr President, you have seen the residential buildings in Mariupol. We have already built about 200,000 square metres of housing there, several thousand flats. We will build 500,000 square metres of floor space or over 5,000 flats before the year is out, and all of them will be open for occupancy. People are receiving new and comfortable housing.
Agriculture is a separate aspect of our work.
We had some problems with produce shipping, but we managed to organise shipments despite everything.
We had trouble organising the sowing and harvesting campaigns. The Ministry of Agriculture is involved in this and has allocated funding and is leasing equipment. We have already delivered hundreds of pieces of equipment to the new territories. This work is underway.
I would like to note our coordination with the State Duma and the Presidential Executive Office on drafting a law on the free economic zone. The bill has been submitted to the State Duma. I believe it will help attract investment.
There are even more serious proposals as to how we can make these territories more attractive. I hope that we and our colleagues, including the State Duma and the Federation Council, will work to modify this bill to make it as convenient as possible.
As per your instructions, we have completed substantial work to organise a programme for the socio-economic development of the new regions. We have coordinated specific measures and projects with every region and every federal executive agency, and we will implement these in 2023–2025. In all, we are listing over 300 measures and projects with the relevant statistics and key performance indicators (KPI) for subsequent evaluation, and the concerned project managers are responsible for implementing them.
This comprehensive programme will make it possible to see to the interests of the residents as much as possible. This includes healthcare, education, culture, sport, work with young people, the public sector, the social sector, the infrastructure reconstruction programme and a programme for expanding and launching as many enterprises as we can.
We hope that this programme will facilitate extremely rapid development. However, I will say that this is an extremely ambitious regional development programme, in terms of its scale and volume, to be adopted in modern Russian history. We have set aside sufficiently large funding, and we are currently adjusting it.
The effort to develop the utilities infrastructure benefited from a special funding arrangement. Mr President, you have seen with your own eyes the state of the utilities. The military operation alone cannot be blamed for all this damage. In fact, the utilities sector was in complete disrepair. Basically, it could not work properly and was nearly in a state of emergency. For this reason, the funds allocated for infrastructure development will definitely bear fruit.
In keeping with your instructions, we provided more buses for developing public transit.
We have plans to rebuild and renovate 4.5 million square metres of housing, and to build 1.5 million square metres of new housing within the next few years. In all, we will restore 6.2 million square metres of housing.
As for water supply, we believe that the decision to build a water duct will provide quality and reliable water supply for the 1.2 million people living in Donetsk and its suburbs. This effort provides for building or upgrading 830 kilometres of water utilities and wastewater disposal lines.
Also at your instructions, almost all state-owned companies have been drafting their own programmes for infrastructure upgrades and development in the new regions for 2023–2025. We have to add just a few minor touches, and once this is done, we will be ready to approve them.
On a separate note, I would like to recognise the regions that are providing assistance to the new territories. They built or rebuilt more than 4,000 structures, and sent many people to work there. I can tell you that your request to have the entire country working together to help the new regions has been fulfilled in full as of today.
I would like to note that all the funds set forth in the investment programme were allocated in full despite the fact that this initiative came unexpectedly. We have been able to overcome all the challenges and find solutions by working with the Finance Ministry to balance the books and deliver on all the objectives as planned.
Let me extend my special gratitude to the heads of the four new regions. They were the ones who had to bear the brunt of this burden. They have been present on the ground, working with people, taking prompt action, and working on all these issues with us in an emergency response setting.
Take the Severodonetsk metropolitan area, for example: shelling incidents happen every day there, but people refuse to leave. People believe that everything will get back to normal, and we will provide them with heating, water and power supply, and we are doing just that. People working there risk their lives, including utilities workers and all the others who are involved.
(The Deputy Prime Minister thanked all those who help deliver on the objectives related to developing the new territories, including the Federal Security Services, the Defence Ministry, the Presidential Executive Office, the Government of the Russian Federation, the State Duma and various federal agencies.)
Mr President, in conclusion, I would like to extend my deep gratitude to you. You know all these objectives and the situation better than anyone else. The promptness and responsiveness when taking decisions on all matters have been unprecedented. We would have never delivered on all these tasks within this short timeframe in the ordinary course of business. It would have taken us years to do this, and for some projects, we would have never succeeded without your responsiveness and your constant care, attention and support. Thank you very much.
I do hope that the system we have put in place will enable us to deliver on any task you set before us.
This is the end of my report.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much, Mr Khusnullin.