Saturday, July 22, 2017

Congratulations to Russia’s Kamaz-Master Team, winner of the 2017 Silk Way Rally in the trucks category.

Vladimir Putin congratulated Russia’s Kamaz-Master Team on winning the trucks category at the 2017 Silk Way Rally.


The message reads, in part:

“Once again, you demonstrated your champion spirit and rightly conquered the entire pedestal. Your success is proof of the Russian Kamaz vehicles’ unrivalled possibilities.

I would like to particularly acknowledge the excellent work of the rally organisers. I am certain such remarkable projects promote international cultural cooperation, and strengthen friendship and understanding between peoples.”

The 2017 Silk Way Rally is an international rally raid off-road race through Russia, Kazakhstan and China.

Meeting with President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev.

Vladimir Putin had a meeting with President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev in Sochi. The two leaders discussed various aspects of the bilateral relations and the regional agenda.

Vladimir Putin with President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev.
Vladimir Putin with President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin:

Mr. Aliyev, I am very glad to see you, this time in Sochi.

You may be aware that I have just met with students from our new Sirius Educational Centre for Talented Children. I was very pleased to see the progress of this project and will be glad to share my impressions with you.

I am glad to have this opportunity to talk about our bilateral relations and the current state of affairs in the region. The situation is not simple but I hope today’s meeting will be another step towards a solution of all the complicated issues.

We will, of course, discuss the bilateral links between Azerbaijan and Russia. We have a great deal of work to do together and many joint plans for the future.

I am glad to have this opportunity to meet with you and talk over all these issues.

President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev.
President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev.
President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev:

Thank you, Mr. Putin.

I am also glad to meet with you today. We meet on a regular basis and these meetings give a good impetus to our bilateral relations, which are developing very successfully.

We are satisfied with the high level of our relations. We cooperate extensively in politics, trade and the economy, as well as on cultural projects. There are good prospects in the transport in energy sectors. Our relations are multidimensional and cover almost every aspect of our countries’ lives.

It is important to hold regular consultations on topical issues of the regional and global politics, as well as on the bilateral relations and security in the region.

Once again, I am very pleased to see you. I am certain this meeting will move our friendly relations forward.

Vladimir Putin at a meeting with President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev.
Vladimir Putin at a meeting with President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev.
Vladimir Putin:

Thank you.

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PHOTO:
Vladimir Putin held a meeting with President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev.
Vladimir Putin held a meeting with President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev.

Meeting of Talent and Success Foundation Board of Trustees.

Vladimir Putin chaired a meeting of the Talent and Success Foundation Board of Trustees.

Vladimir Putin at the meeting of Talent and Success Foundation Board of Trustees.
Vladimir Putin at the meeting of Talent and Success Foundation Board of Trustees.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin:

Good afternoon, colleagues, friends.

You have probably watched the meeting with the kids. It was a great pleasure talking to them, hearing how they live, what makes them tick and what they think about their future and the future of the activities they engage in.

Sirius has been working for two years. During this time 15,000 people from almost all parts of Russia have been here. And of course, it cannot accommodate all the gifted, promising children that we have in our country. So the next stage is to promote such systems in the Russian regions (this is up to the regions themselves).

As you know, several new fields have appeared: painting, chemistry, biology, chess and computer science. We believe that these are promising, much-needed fields.

Another large building was handed over to Sirius – to be more precise, the entire complex of the Olympic Games Organizing Committee. Let us talk about how it will develop, as well as about the short-term development prospects in general.

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PHOTO:
Meeting of Talent and Success Foundation Board of Trustees.
Meeting of Talent and Success Foundation Board of Trustees.

Head of the Talent and Success foundation Yelena Shmelyova.
Head of the Talent and Success foundation Yelena Shmelyova.

Conversation with World Chess Federation President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov.

Vladimir Putin had a brief talk with President of the World Chess Federation (FIDE) Kirsan Ilyumzhinov while viewing project displays at the Sirius Educational Centre, where chess is one of the subjects taught.

Vladimir Putin with President of the World Chess Federation Kirsan Ilyumzhinov.
Vladimir Putin with President of the World Chess Federation Kirsan Ilyumzhinov.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin:

Good afternoon.

President of the World Chess Federation Kirsan Ilyumzhinov:

Mr. President, good afternoon,

First of all, I would like to thank you on behalf of the World Chess Federation for last year’s inclusion of chess into the program for gifted children. Chess, as Mikhail Botvinnik [1911–1995, multiple world chess champion] said, unites sport, science and culture. It also develops both the left and the right hemispheres of the brain in children.

Vladimir Putin:

Did you have a holiday yesterday? My congratulations.

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov:

Yes, it was yesterday. Fifty years ago, UNESCO declared International Chess Day. Chess is the only sport with an International Day. In those fifty years, the World Chess Federation has become the largest federation with 188 member countries, over 100,000 competitions held by us, and 600 million chess players. Now we have set a goal to increase the number of chess players to one billion by 2020. One billion chess players means one billon clever people. And the Sirius center helps us increase the number of smart and talented children.

Vladimir Putin:

I congratulate you as an organizer of this process and all the people who love chess and play it, and we have hundreds of thousands of them.

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov:

We now have to produce a men’s and women’s world champion.
Vladimir Putin: Yes, we have to work on it.

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov:

FIDE is to hold the next election of its president next year. I think that Russia should not yield this position, and I decided to run for FIDE president again.

Vladimir Putin:

I think it will be decided by those eligible to vote, but as we see it from a distance, I think you are quite worthy, you do a good job with the responsibilities and running the federation. Undoubtedly, you have already gained significant experience and have every chance of winning. At any rate, you have the right to run and fight for it. For my part, I would like to wish you success.

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov:

Thank you very much.

Meeting with Acting Head of Mari El Republic Alexander Yevstifeyev.

Vladimir Putin had a working meeting with Acting Head of the Mari El Republic Alexander Yevstifeyev.

Vladimir Putin with Acting Head of Mari El Republic Alexander Yevstifeyev.
Vladimir Putin with Acting Head of Mari El Republic Alexander Yevstifeyev.
Mr. Yevstifeyev updated the President on the socioeconomic situation in the republic. They also discussed questions that Mari El residents raised with the President during the Direct Line.

Council for Interethnic Relations meeting.

Vladimir Putin held a meeting of the Council for Interethnic Relations in Yoshkar-Ola.

Council for Interethnic Relations meeting.
Council for Interethnic Relations meeting.
Implementation at regional and municipal level of the State Ethnic Policy Strategy until 2025 was the main item on the agenda.


The Presidential Council for Interethnic Relations was established in 2012 to enhance state policy in this area. The Council is made up of the leaders of Russian ethnic and cultural associations, academics and experts, heads of federal executive and legislative bodies of power.

* * *

Excerpts from transcript of the meeting of the Council for Interethnic Relations.

Vladimir Putin.
Vladimir Putin.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin:

Good afternoon colleagues.

It has become a fine tradition to hold Council for Interethnic Relations’ meetings in the different regions. This time, we are meeting in Yoshkar-Ola, the capital of Mari El. Let me begin by thanking the people of Mari El for the warmth and hospitality we have met with here.

On our agenda today is an analysis of the implementation of the State Ethnic Policy Strategy at the regional and municipal levels. This Strategy is a document of exceptional importance for a multi-ethnic country such as ours.

As you know, the draft document was broadly discussed. More than 3000 remarks and proposals were taken into account and we outlined the main priorities of preserving Russia’s ethno-cultural diversity, strengthening civic identity and bolstering our country’s spiritual unity.

These are the main areas of work for the authorities at all levels, but these efforts should be even more focused and substantive at the regional and municipal levels. This is natural because the closer to the people you are, the more detailed things become.

Each region has its own peculiarities with regard to interethnic relations, and of course, these peculiarities should be taken into account while at the same time following a common approach to resolving the overall, national ethnic policy tasks.

Take teaching the Russian language and the languages of Russia’s peoples in schools, for example. I would like to remind you that Russian is the state language, the common language for us all, and as such, it is irreplaceable and is a natural spiritual foundation for our entire multi-ethnic country. Everyone has a duty to know Russian.

The languages of Russia’s various peoples are also an integral part of their unique cultures. The right to study these languages is guaranteed by the Constitution. It is a voluntary right. Forcing someone to learn a language that is not their native language is just as inacceptable as reducing the level and time spent on teaching Russian. I particularly draw the regional heads’ attention to this issue.

I have said before that matters concerning national identity and traditions are very sensitive, with many subtleties, and we must act with great wisdom and caution here. Overall, we have built up considerable and, most importantly, fruitful experience in this area over these past years. Suffice it to note the increase in the number of people in Russia who think that relations between people of different ethnic groups are friendly. This view is shared by close to 80 percent of the population now. You will remember that the situation was quite different 10–15 years ago. Our task is to preserve the harmony that we have achieved in society, above all by ensuring ongoing cooperation and constructive dialogue between the authorities and civil society institutions.

At the same time, surveys show that one in five people in Russia think that the local authorities’ work in the area of interethnic relations is insufficiently effective. I would like to draw the municipal authorities’ attention to this. In most cases, conflicts escalate primarily because of failure at the local level to prevent and resolve them in time.

It would be good to appoint someone responsible for overseeing interethnic relations at all local government bodies, as has already been done at the federal and regional levels, and in general to work more actively to spread best practices in the country, including with regard to implementing the State Ethnic Policy Strategy.

This work must be monitored everywhere, and we need the closest possible cooperation between all agencies concerned, including the law enforcement agencies. It is essential to put in place a clear system for training and advanced training for regional and municipal officials in the area of interethnic relations. This task has long been before us but work is progressing slowly. This is also something we can discuss today.

Furthermore, we need not only standard and educational programs but also a fully-fledged professional standard. I would like to ask the Government to finalize its development. It has been going on for a long time and should be completed. It is also necessary to provide decent methodological support for the activities of the regional and municipal authorities on implementing state ethnic policy. Correct managerial decisions also play a key role in this respect. We expect regional civic chambers, national-cultural associations and non-profit organizations to come up with initiatives to elaborate them.

It is essential to create conditions for establishing relevant on-site consultative venues where Government and civil society representatives would be able to interact, work together, compare and coordinate their actions on a regular basis. Out of over 220,000 Russian non-profits some 6,000 have charter provisions on ethno cultural issues. We must continue steadily, regularly upgrading policies designed to support them.

It is also important to support them with grants. For example, starting July 1, the range of public-spirited services of socially oriented non-profits was supplemented with the priorities of developing interethnic cooperation, protecting the languages and culture of Russian peoples and facilitating the sociocultural adaptation of guest workers. At the same time, in implementing state ethnic policy it is necessary to clearly determine the criteria for assessing the effectiveness of regional programs and other systemic measures and apply them in distributing relevant subsidies from the federal budget to the regions and their budgets.

One such measure should be regions and municipalities developing and promoting their own ethno cultural brands. Our country is unique in terms of the diversity of its nature and folk traditions but opportunities to learn about them are often limited not only by inadequate infrastructure but also by mediocrity and lack of initiative at the local level. Meanwhile, the demand for ethnographic tourism, for instance, is growing all over the world, including this country. This is an obvious fact. In Russia, we have more things to showcase and take pride in than anywhere else.

As you may know, this is not the first year that internal tourism has been growing, which has a lot to do with the topic we are going to discuss today.

That concludes my opening remarks. I would like to give the floor to Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Khloponin.

Thank you.

Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Khloponin and First Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Sergei Kiriyenko at a meeting of the Council for Interethnic Relations.
Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Khloponin and First Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Sergei Kiriyenko at a meeting of the Council for Interethnic Relations.

Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Khloponin:

Thank you.

Mr. President, colleagues,

Since the previous Council meeting in October 2016 in Astrakhan, we have focused on efficiently implementing the tasks mapped out in the Strategy for the State Ethnic Policy of the Russian Federation until 2025.

Firstly, these are measures concerning the management and the funding of the program. The State Program of the Russian Federation on Implementing State Ethnic Policy was endorsed and came in effect this year. Its adoption made it possible for the first time to concentrate the powers of all the federal agencies related to the drafting of the ethnic policy. The funding of the program through 2025 is almost 26 billion rubles. About 2.5 billion rubles have been earmarked for this year and a considerable part of these funds are subsidies to the regions on the basis of co-financing.

In the first half of 2017, the Federal Agency for Ethnic Affairs signed agreements with 61 regions on subsidizing their measures to strengthen the unity of the Russian nation and promote the ethno cultural development of the peoples of Russia. There are agreements with 27 regions on subsidies to support indigenous minorities of the North, Siberia and the Far East.

Secondly, something the President spoke about, there is work with socially oriented non-profit organizations. The required legal terms for their operation have been established. For instance, a tangible role in this respect was played by the adoption in July of this year of an executive order that affords them an opportunity to render socially useful services in the area of interethnic relations, as well as the adaptation and integration of guest workers.

The third issue deals with human resources. For the first time experts elaborated a draft of the professional standard that sets requirements for credentials in interethnic relations. This document was submitted to the Ministry of Labor in June of this year and by this September, the Government plans to complete all the procedures required for its adoption, including public discussion, and interdepartmental approval of its final version.

Labor migration is the fourth critically important area. According to the Interior Ministry, over 2 million foreign citizens work in Russia officially. Clearly, even a brief stay in an unfamiliar environment requires them to be integrated into society. They need extra attention and assistance in difficult situations, be it access to medical care, schools for their children, and much more.

Previously, the adaptation of migrants was handled by a variety of departments ranging from social services to police. That is, each ministry did its narrow part of the job. A draft presidential executive order was put together to assign the Federal Agency the functions of developing and implementing state policy in the sphere of social and cultural adaptation and integration of foreign citizens.

At the same time, a law has been drafted that defines the goals and ways of achieving sociocultural adaptation, which also determines the scope of authority of all levels of government.

Vladimir Putin at a meeting of the Council for Interethnic Relations. With First Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Sergei Kiriyenko (left) and Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office and Secretary of the Council for Interethnic Relations Magomedsalam Magomedov.
Vladimir Putin at a meeting of the Council for Interethnic Relations. With First Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Sergei Kiriyenko (left) and Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office and Secretary of the Council for Interethnic Relations Magomedsalam Magomedov.

Mr. President, colleagues,

I believe that the work we have done in the sphere of improving interethnic relations is a good starting point for further advances in this sphere.

To improve efficiency, we need, first, to create a single transparent governance vertical. Now, in the Russian regions, the issues of state ethnic policy are handled by different structural subdivisions of executive bodies. Moreover, in some regions this policy is an optional activity. In 10 regions, these issues are handled by governors’ executive offices, in 15 regions there are dedicated ministries or departments, and in 52 regions this work falls within the competence of a directorate or a department of domestic policy. In the remaining regions, this work is being done by regional ministries of education, culture and relations with public organizations. I believe it is necessary that the executive authorities in each region have a structural subdivision with this unique focal authority. One option is to create an administrative unit supervised by a deputy governor.

The same principles should be used to build interaction with the municipalities, whose experience shows that it is possible to organize sufficiently high-quality work not only in major urban areas, but in rural areas as well.

I would like to give you a couple of examples. In the Republic of Udmurtia, for instance, 30 public coordination councils on interethnic relations have been set up, and in all municipalities of Nizhny Novgorod Region, these matters are the responsibility of deputy heads of the municipal administrations and competent specialists.

But unfortunately, our regions are not all alike. There is a widespread belief in a number of regions that if a district, a city or a village is mono-ethnic, then there is no need to deal with interethnic relations. This is, no doubt, a wrong and shortsighted view. Today, especially in our age of global processes, information technology and population mobility, interethnic relations concern every citizen of the Russian Federation one way or another. And often trouble-makers appear where they are least expected.

I believe that the Federal Agency must actively encourage the positive experience of the Russian regions that use precisely this vertical. The consolidation of power along the vertical axis – the Federal Agency for Ethnic Affairs, regional authorities, municipalities – firstly, gives us a clear understanding of who is responsible for what; secondly, it helps us to overcome a lack of coordination between departments, which results in efforts and funds being scattered away; and, thirdly, it gives us faster and more effective feedback.

Today, a state information system to monitor the state of interethnic and interreligious relations and prevent conflict situations at an early stage, which was developed by the federal agency, is being introduced in the regions. Feedback with municipalities, prompt information from the scene about sensitive points, will help avert conflicts and will also help us to adopt decisions on the construction (where necessary) of social facilities and housing, the creation of jobs, transport and utilities infrastructure.

At present, 37 regions are fully integrated into the monitoring system. In the near future, this practice should be spread to all regions of the Russian Federation.

Now a few words about personnel policy. As I have already said, we have determined the professional standard and must form a system of training specialists and upgrading their skills. Federal and basic regional universities could become a key link in this system. They have the necessary foundation and are the closest to the requirements of the regions of the Russian Federation and know their specific features.

In addition, federal and other major universities have amassed vast experience of working with young people of different ethnic origins. At present, a number of federal universities, including the North Caucasus, Southern, Crimean, and North-Eastern universities have a program of advanced training that includes an ethnic component. As a rule, this training concerns issues of anti-terrorist security and prevention of political extremism among the younger generation.

I consider it expedient to instruct the Ministry of Education and the Federal Agency, with the participation of the regions, to submit proposals on the establishment in federal and basic universities of centers for regular and advanced training of personnel in the area of interethnic relations. It is necessary to determine the personnel requirements of the regions and municipalities and elaborate an organizational and financial mechanism for their training, retraining and advanced training.
Targeted admission at the request of the regions could be one of the options. According to the Ministry of Education and Science, the greatest interest in specialists in interethnic relations is seen in such regions of the Russian Federation as Stavropol Territory, the Republic of Ingushetia, the Chechen Republic and the Republic of Tatarstan. Specialists are now trained in various areas: study of Russia’s regions, political science, religious studies, theology, cultural history, anthropology and ethnology.

In this academic year, the targeted admission quota for these specialist fields amounted to 183 places, seven more than last year. On the whole the demand is growing but there is still an enormous deficit in the training of personnel in these fields in the Russian Federation.

That said, we are witnessing a certain overabundance of some specialists, such as economists and managers who later on experience difficulties with finding a job and have to undergo retraining or get jobs in other areas. I think the regions could redistribute these quotas in favor of specialists in ethnic relations with guaranteed employment.

Education and Science Minister Olga Vasilyeva at a meeting of the Council for Interethnic Relations.
Education and Science Minister Olga Vasilyeva at a meeting of the Council for Interethnic Relations.
Colleagues, the peoples of our country are historically united by a common territory, culture and the state language. These are integral parts of developing and strengthening interethnic unity. That is why it is vitally important to support the projects that aim to develop Russian civil identity and civil consolidation, primarily, the so-called internet projects. Today, internet users include not only young people but actually people from all social and age groups. We have quality examples of projects, for instance, the Культура.рф website dedicated to Russia’s cultural heritage. However, so far there are very few such resources, especially at the regional level in the Russian Federation. I think that regional grant contests should priorities internet projects in the sphere of interethnic relations and strengthening the unity of the Russian nation.

The same applies to cinema and media. Products of a patriotic nature have indeed started to appear in our country, such as stories of legendary figures and events that brought glory to Russia. However, sadly, these products are not hugely popular with film providers. I have to mention the media, who seek scoops and avoid taking any responsibility for the possible negative consequences of the ways they present ethnic themes. To implement projects, we have to take active efforts and use existing mechanism for providing subsidies and grants and awarding prizes to authors.

In conclusion, I will touch upon, probably, the main thing – school. It is school that creates the foundation for civic education, knowledge of Russian as the state language and the language of interethnic communication, respect for the history and culture of a particular people and all peoples of our great country. It is obvious that it is necessary to make adjustments to the Federal State Educational Standards and pay greater attention to issues of interethnic relations, their proper representation, and teaching methods. At the same time, work should be done to develop corresponding textbooks and study guides. Shortly, changes will be introduced to the Social Studies standards. The work has already begun, and the regions of the Russian Federation should be more involved in it.

Mr. President, colleagues,

The new school year will soon begin. I propose recommending that schools dedicate Knowledge Day to the interethnic unity and ethno cultural diversity of the Russian Federation's peoples. I am absolutely convinced that members of our Council can take an active part in organizing and holding such classes.

Thank you for your attention.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Vladimir Putin:

Colleagues,

I understand that we could carry on talking for a long time because we are all passionate about what we are doing, and this is undoubtedly an important matter.

I hope that our work, as I have already said at the previous meetings, will not be reduced to such discussions alone, but will continue. Mr. Magomedov, I hope, is doing his job well – collecting materials, participating in your work in the different sections. This work is very important, and I would like to thank you for it and for the specific proposals that you have made during our meeting today. We will try to respond to all that.

I do not know what we will be able to do. I would like to put into practice most of your ideas, because I did not hear a single empty word today. It was all important, all interesting. We will not be able to implement everything in one go, but we will work hard.

Thank you very much for the invitation and the souvenirs. Mr. Magomedov will pass all of them along to me later.

Thank you very much. All the best.

Visit to Republic of Mari El National Museum.

Vladimir Putin visited the Republic of Mari El Timofei Yevseyev National Museum.

Vladimir Putin visiting the Republic of Mari El Timofei Yevseyev National Museum.
Vladimir Putin visiting the Republic of Mari El Timofei Yevseyev National Museum.
The President took in the exhibition on the customs and beliefs of the Mari people – one of the few peoples in Europe to have preserved paganism as their traditional religion.

The Timofei Yevseyev National Museum is the republic’s oldest museum and is a leading research, methodological and information center with a unique collection. It was named after ethnographer, folklore historian and lecturer Timofei Yevseyev. Today, its collection has more than 230,000 items.

PHOTO:
President Putin visited the Republic of Mari El Timofei Yevseyev National Museum.
President Putin visited the Republic of Mari El Timofei Yevseyev National Museum.
Vladimir Putin in Timofei Yevseyev National Museum.
Vladimir Putin in Timofei Yevseyev National Museum.

Meeting with Lyudmila Alexeyeva.

Vladimir Putin congratulated human rights champion and public activist and Chairwoman of the Moscow Helsinki Group Lyudmila Alexeyeva on her 90th birthday.

President Putin congratulated Lyudmila Alexeyeva on her 90th birthday.
President Putin congratulated Lyudmila Alexeyeva on her 90th birthday.
Before leaving for a trip to Yoshkar-Ola, the President visited Ms. Alexeyeva at her home and presented her with a bouquet of flowers and an engraving of a view of her hometown, Yevpatoria, as well as a decorative plate depicting Moscow State University’s main building.

Earlier, Mr. Putin sent Ms. Alexeyeva a message of greetings, which reads, in part:

“You followed your heart’s calling and devoted yourself to serving society and defending human rights and freedoms with firmness and determination. Your particular moral strength and faithfulness to your convictions have enabled you to make a significant contribution to human rights activity and to strengthening the institutions of democracy and civic society”.

Following the meeting, the President spoke briefly with Moscow residents.

* * *

Conversation with Lyudmila Alexeyeva.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin:

Good afternoon Ms. Alexeyeva.

I would like to congratulate you on your birthday.

Vladimir Putin with Lyudmila Alexeyeva.
Vladimir Putin with Lyudmila Alexeyeva.

Lyudmila Alexeyeva:

This is quite a gift!

Vladimir Putin:

I would like to congratulate you on my own behalf and on behalf of the very many people who love you and are grateful to you for all that you do for them.

Lyudmila Alexeyeva:

They have been calling me all day. I have just relinquished both phones for a time; otherwise, we would not be able to speak. I am very, very grateful to you.

Vladimir Putin:

And I am grateful to you for all you have done over these many, many years for such a huge number of people in our country, people who love you dearly and are grateful to you for the life that you live in the service of others. Thank you very much for this.

Lyudmila Alexeyeva:

When I began all this 50 years ago, I asked myself, how many years would I get? If they charged me under article 70, I would get seven years in prison and five in exile, but if they charged me under article 190, I would be lucky to get three years in prison and five in exile. It certainly never entered my mind that the president would come to congratulate me one day.

Vladimir Putin:

Much has changed.

Lyudmila Alexeyeva:

This is a rare case when someone was busy with goodness knows what and has earned recognition. I have just had a call from Mr. Volodin [Speaker of the State Duma]; yesterday, Mr. Kiriyenko [First Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office] called, and today, you have come. People hope for this all their lives but do not achieve it despite their efforts, and I have it all come upon me without even trying. I was busy with quite different matters.

Vladimir Putin:

I know. You were actually doing the most important thing of all.

Lyudmila Alexeyeva:

My work was with people.

Vladimir Putin:

People, absolutely right.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn had a key idea about preserving the people. He worked on it in his way, and you in your way.

Lyudmila Alexeyeva:

I could only deal with one person at a time, but to save just one person is already such a great joy.

Vladimir Putin:

This is true.

Lyudmila Alexeyeva:

When I spoke with Mr. Volodin, it turned out we were both raised by our grandmothers, not by our mothers, those Komsomol members, but by our grandmothers. They raised us in the Christian tradition. They did not say so, but this was a Christian upbringing, all about people. They instilled it in us. These values have taken this modern form today.

Do you know what else we talked about?

I welcome your visit not only because it is an unexpected and surprising honor, an event. By the way, it was my plan to drink a glass of champagne with the president in honor of my 90th birthday. Would you drink a little?

Vladimir Putin drinking champagne with Lyudmila Alexeyeva on her 90th birthday.
Vladimir Putin drinking champagne with Lyudmila Alexeyeva on her 90th birthday.

Vladimir Putin:

Of course, on such an occasion.

Lyudmila Alexeyeva:

Anyway, you know, I was thinking, me, this sinner, that I would ask the president to be the charitable Christian, and do what no one else in this world but he can do. This would be the greatest reward for me, and it would count as a good deed for both of us in the next world. Pardon Igor Izmestyev.

Vladimir Putin:

Good, I will consider it.

Lyudmila Alexeyeva:

I ask you in all earnestness. You know, he has been in prison for 12 years now, and it has been 12 years now that I wake at night, thinking about him. Please, whether he is guilty or not is not so important. I believe he is innocent, and others think he has sinned. When the people were asked who to pardon, Christ or Barabbas, those idiots said, “Barabbas”. But this was an act of mercy. Barabbas was a brigand and a killer, but when a pardon is accorded, people do not ask whether the person is guilty or not, they simply pardon, out of the goodness of their hearts.

Vladimir Putin:

You have much goodness.

Lyudmila Alexeyeva:

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin:

All right.

Lyudmila Alexeyeva:

You know, we bought some excellent champagne, of course, but your people bought their own, Mr President.

Vladimir Putin:

They probably bought some cheap stuff, saving money on us. (Laughter)

My best wishes on your birthday!

Lyudmila Alexeyeva:

And I wish you good health, Mr. President.

Vladimir Putin:

Thank you. I wish you the same.

Lyudmila Alexeyeva:

You know, I think about you too. Sometimes, when I cannot sleep, which happens rarely, for despite my venerable years, I sleep like a babe. My conscience is clear.

Vladimir Putin and Lyudmila Alexeyeva on her 90th birthday.
Vladimir Putin and Lyudmila Alexeyeva on her 90th birthday.
Vladimir Putin:

That is very good.

Lyudmila Alexeyeva:

And I think about various people, about you too. After all, it is no easy job to be President.

Vladimir Putin:

Any job, if you do it conscientiously, is not easy.

Lyudmila Alexeyeva:

But you have to do a great many things that you do not wish to do.

Vladimir Putin and Lyudmila Alexeyeva.
Vladimir Putin and Lyudmila Alexeyeva.

Vladimir Putin:

Yes, this happens.

Lyudmila Alexeyeva:

And so I think, why is this so?

Vladimir Putin:

Because I was raised in much the same spirit as you were.

Lyudmila Alexeyeva:

Yes, also by your grandmother?

Vladimir Putin:

By my mother, but I was my parents’ last child and my mother was already getting on in years. She was born in 1911.

Lyudmila Alexeyeva:

Ah, yes.

Vladimir Putin:

Happy birthday to you!


Lyudmila Alexeyeva:

Thank you. Best wishes to you too.

I cannot drink much otherwise I will kick up a ruckus. (Laughter)

Vladimir Putin:

Never mind, give your loved ones a bit of a chase. It will make them all the merrier. Who wants to see them get bored?

Once more, my congratulations, and I wish you all the very best.

Allow me to give you a present. (Presents an engraving depicting a view of Yevpatoria.) This is your hometown. This is a modest gift, but it is a good engraving.

You graduated from Moscow State University in 1950. (Presents a decorative plate with a picture of Moscow State University’s main building.)

Lyudmila Alexeyeva:

You know, the Moscow State University I studied at was different.

Vladimir Putin:

Yes, it was a different building.

Lyudmila Alexeyeva:

When we were students, we were all sent off to help build this Moscow State University building.

Vladimir Putin:

Yes, but what matters is the university itself, not the building.

Lyudmila Alexeyeva:

Yes, I still consider it my Alma Mater.

Vladimir Putin:

Of course, of course.

Lyudmila Alexeyeva:

I will definitely find a place for it. Thank you.

Yesterday, the head of the local administration called and said, “I would like to come to congratulate you and present you with a gift from the President, a dinner set with the coat of arms, and a card”. I said, “Could I send someone to you to collect it rather than you coming here, because I have many visitors”. They agreed. They were very polite.

Vladimir Putin:

Yes, of course.

Lyudmila Alexeyeva:

So they will go today to collect your dinner set.

Vladimir Putin:

Good.

Lyudmila Alexeyeva:

And as for Gzhel [traditional Russian ceramics]… I was in enforced exile, lived in America for 13 years.

Vladimir Putin:

Yes.

Lyudmila Alexeyeva:

It is a good country, better organized than ours. But one’s own country is always home, no matter what it is like.

Vladimir Putin:

They have no shortage of problems in America too.

Lyudmila Alexeyeva:

You are telling me! I lived there for 13 years and know what it is like.

Vladimir Putin:

Of course.

Lyudmila Alexeyeva:

They have a great country, many good things there. But I could not return, but when I did come back, in 1990, you know what I did? I went and bought a lot of Gzhel, Vyatka toys and so on, and then Americans would come and say, “Oh, it’s absolutely Russian house!” I would say, “What else can it be?” I retained this love. I stopped collecting these things when I came back here, but the love remains. People come and say, “Ah, she’s got Gzhel. And what shall we get grandma as a present?”

Me, I only eat porridge.

Vladimir Putin:

I also eat porridge.

Lyudmila Alexeyeva:

Yes, I eat oatmeal porridge every morning. I do not need fancy clothes. I hardly ever go anywhere. People think, “We will give her Gzhel”. So, what am I to do? And now it is like a shop, absolutely full of things, but these are gifts from people, so it all stays.

Mr. President, thank you. But please, do not forget about Izmestyev.

Vladimir Putin:

I will not forget.

Lyudmila Alexeyeva:

Please do not forget. Do this good deed. It will be to both our names in the next world, for it is a Christian act.

Vladimir Putin:

Not right away, but I will do this, all right?

Lyudmila Alexeyeva:

As you wish.

Vladimir Putin:

Fine.

Lyudmila Alexeyeva:

Yes. I know that you keep your word. I do, too. I either do not make promises, or, if I do promise something, I keep my word.

Vladimir Putin:

Fine. Once more, my congratulations, and now, I must get to work.

Lyudmila Alexeyeva:

Oh you poor thing.

Vladimir Putin:

I am flying now to Kazan, from there to Yoshkar-Ola, and then to Sochi, where I will meet with children.

I set up a big children’s center at one of the Olympic facilities. We have turned it into a marvelous center. We bring gifted children from all around the country there, young mathematicians, physicists, ballet dancers, musicians and athletes, hockey players and figure skaters. We organized it so that 900 children come at a time, from all around the country, and spend 21 days there. We accompany them; bring in the best teachers from all over Russia, from Moscow, academicians, professors all come to work with them. It is a very interesting place. The current group is coming to the end of their program now and I would like to meet with them tomorrow.

Lyudmila Alexeyeva:

Yes. Kazan is a good city too. But what takes you to Yoshkar-Ola, I don’t know.

Vladimir Putin:

We are going to hold a meeting on interethnic relations there.

Lyudmila Alexeyeva:

Ah, the president’s lot, in short.

Vladimir Putin:

Well yes, I have to work.

I wish you all the very best, and a wonderful mood, especially today. I wish you high spirits in general, but especially today.

Lyudmila Alexeyeva:

You probably know how it is: when you are busy, you do not even know what mood you are in. (Laughter.)

Vladimir Putin:

Good luck to you.

Lyudmila Alexeyeva:

All the best. I am very grateful.

Vladimir Putin:

All the best. Goodbye.

Lyudmila Alexeyeva:

Thank you.

PHOTO:

Following the meeting with Lyudmila Alexeyeva, the President spoke briefly with Moscow residents.
Following the meeting with Lyudmila Alexeyeva, the President spoke briefly with Moscow residents.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Russian President met with Government members.

Vladimir Putin held a meeting with Government members.

Vladimir Putin - President of the Russian Federation.
Vladimir Putin - President of the Russian Federation.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin:

Good afternoon colleagues.

Today, we will discuss an issue of great importance for practically every Russian family – how we can use information technology to improve access to medical care and medicines.

But first, I would like to ask Mr. Manturov to say a few words about how the INNOPROM exhibition is proceeding. We saw its start recently. How are things now?

Minister of Trade and Industry Denis Manturov:

Mr. President, let me begin by thanking you, on behalf of all Russian industry, for taking part in this event.

This exhibition has become Russia’s principle industrial forum. Digitalization in industry was the main theme of this year’s event and we had a large number of IT companies taking part, even more than from manufacturing sectors. This shows that digitalization is taking place in all economic sectors without exception and in industry as well, of course.

More than 650 companies took part in the exhibition. This year, we had a record number of visitors – more than 50,000 people from 98 countries.

Next year, South Korea will have the status of partner country for the event. We plan to expand the exhibition space and we hope that this will attract new companies. This is also a good rehearsal for Yekaterinburg’s bid to host EXPO-2025. The bid is built around the theme of accessible innovation for our children and future generations.

We are counting on support from you and Mr. Medvedev. We will soon establish an organizing committee and appoint a chairperson. Given our country’s experience in organizing and hosting big events, I am certain that we can do an excellent job of hosting EXPO-2025 in Yekaterinburg.

Vladimir Putin with Government members.
Vladimir Putin with Government members.
Vladimir Putin:

Who else is bidding – Osaka and Paris?

Denis Manturov:

Osaka, Paris and Baku.

Vladimir Putin:

Well, you will have to work at it.

Denis Manturov:

We will do our best.

Vladimir Putin:

We have launched additional programs for car loans at preferential rates, starting July 11. Could you give us a bit more detail on this, please?

Vladimir Putin at a meeting with Government members.
Vladimir Putin at a meeting with Government members.
Denis Manturov:

Yes, Mr. President. Since the beginning of this year, we have been carrying out a whole range of measures to support the automotive industry. As planned, starting on July 11, we launched five new programs for car loans. We have the First Car and Family Car programs (these groups of buyers will be eligible for an additional discount of up to 10 percent). Then there are similar programs for preferential vehicle leasing, Russian Truck, Russian Farmer, and My Business. These three programs aim primarily at small and medium businesses. We have raised the discount on the first payment from 10 to 12.5 percent of the vehicle’s cost.

We hope that these programs will make it possible to sell more Russian-made vehicles, at least 85,000 by the end of the year. Overall, the different programs in this sector aim to ensure production of around 670,000 vehicles by the end of the year.

So far, everything is going to plan. More than 360,000 Russian-made vehicles have already been produced and sold with state support.

Vladimir Putin:

Good. You can make a detailed analysis of the program’s results later.

In 2011, we abolished licenses for some types of road transportation, including bus transportation, and since then we have seen a steadily growing number of accidents involving buses. The first half of this year saw a significant increase in accidents even compared to last year. What is your assessment of the situation and what do you think we need to do right now? Mr. Sokolov, you have the floor.

Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov:

Mr. President,

It is true, overall, the number of road accidents has decreased, but the situation with bus transportation darkens the picture. Over the first half of 2017, accidents were up nearly 1.5-fold compared to the previous period.

In 2015, we adopted the Federal Law on organizing regular road and municipal electric-powered vehicle passenger and baggage transportation. This law was a contributing factor to bringing down the number of accidents caused by driver error on regular bus routes by 13 percent. This was the case for regular routes, but for irregular bus services, we see that the number of accidents during transportation for personal or professional needs has increased by 63 percent. Of particular concern here is the fact that 40 percent of these road accidents are committed by people who do not have a business status, in other words, uncertified individuals rather than organizations professionally involved in passenger transportation.

This year, unfortunately, several headline-making road accidents have already taken place, in Trans-Baikal Territory and Tatarstan, for example. We responded immediately. In mid-June at the Transport Ministry and on July 13 at the Interior Ministry, together with [transport safety supervisory body] Rostransnadzor, we had telephone conferences with the heads of all regions and gave instructions to take urgent measures to reduce the number of passenger transport accidents on our roads.

Last year, the Interior Ministry and Rostransnadzor identified more than 1000 illegal transport service providers, opened 26 criminal cases for unlawful business activity, and 500 criminal cases for providing services that do not meet safety demands. Nevertheless, we think this is not enough.

You noted quite rightly that since 2011, when passenger transportation licensing for chartered transport or personal needs was abolished, there has been a steady increase in the number of accidents in this sector. To address this issue, the Transport Ministry has drafted and submitted to the Government a draft federal law making the relevant amendments to the current law on licensing and restoring licenses for all types of road passenger transport vehicles equipped for the transportation of eight or more people. This draft law is currently going through expert evaluation. We think that it will ensure the same conditions for all bus drivers and shippers carrying out regular, irregular, charter transportation and transportation for personal needs.

Also pursuant to your instructions, the Ministry of Transport has drafted a federal law amending the law on road safety, which establishes uniform traffic safety requirements for commercial carriers. We now have the same requirements for legal entities and individuals with regard to mounting tachographs on vehicles. Currently, if a bus is owned by an individual, installing a tachograph is not mandatory, since the number of working hours is not an issue in this case. However, we believe this does not make sense, because the safety of passengers depends on this, and it does not matter which bus gets into an accident, whether it is owned by an individual or a legal entity, that is, an organization.

This draft law was adopted by the State Duma in the first reading in late 2016. Mr. President, we would like you to issue a directive to have the second and the third readings held as soon as possible, so that the draft becomes law and this requirement comes into force.

Speaking about tachographs, many accidents are caused by drivers either falling asleep or getting distracted at the wheel. Over 550,000 buses have been equipped with tachographs and over 23,000 controller cards have been issued. All regions now have the corresponding infrastructure to install and maintain such tachographs. There are over 500 service points accepting tachograph card applications. If we see this system through to its logical completion, and all carriers start using them, then, according to experts, this will reduce the number of accidents involving buses by at least 15 percent.

Vladimir Putin:

At INNOPROM, we saw various modern, comfortable, and efficient devices that monitor the physical condition of drivers. Of course, the issue is about cost and implementation, but, of course, we must follow this path. Look at what is available there.

Maxim Sokolov:

Yes, that is true, Mr. President. Safety comes at a cost, but it is worth paying special attention to this issue, and we are willing to develop an appropriate regulatory framework, which would make such devices mandatory for all those who engage in commercial passenger operations.

Vladimir Putin:

Mr. Gorovoy, do you have anything to add?

First Deputy Interior Minister Alexander Gorovoy:

Mr. President, the Interior Ministry and the Transport Ministry were involved in drafting these federal laws. The statistics show a need, in our opinion, in passing these laws.

I can provide two relevant figures. Four of the last seven accidents involving buses were caused by drivers falling asleep at the wheel. I am not anticipating or announcing the results of the investigations; this is a preliminary picture of what we found at the accident scenes. The second figure is that of the 115 passengers who died because of bus drivers’ errors, 39 were killed at the moment when we think the drivers fell asleep.

I am fully aware that these draft laws will give us an additional tool, but at the same time, I realize the responsibility for prevention and better results of our oversight activity.

On July 13, together with the heads of the regional road safety commissions and Rostransnadzor, we had a telephone conference with all regions. In the meantime, waiting for these laws to come into effect, if they are passed, we are taking the necessary measures. We have coordinated our posts and teams with bus routes and abolished the order the Interior Ministry issued five years ago prohibiting us from stopping vehicles outside of stationary posts. Our country’s geography and transportation logistics show that this was a mistake on our part when we drafted those laws. If there are violations to rules on working hours and rest time, passenger buses, including and primarily chartered ones, will be stopped and drivers will be given a chance to rest.

We foresee some negative feedback from passengers, but after working a month under the new rules, I believe we will be able to encourage all businesses to follow the demands of Transport Ministry regulation 25 concerning drivers’ work-rest routine.

I would like to note that in Moscow alone we have 2,300 buses coming into the city, carrying out charter passenger transportation. They are not subject to any checks by dispatchers, and passengers board the buses outside the city’s bus stations. We have turned to Rostransnadzor and by August 15, we will inspect the implementation of Federal Law 220 on organizing passenger transportation and will provide consolidated information to the Prosecutor General’s Office and the regional prosecutors’ offices.

The school year is approaching, and we have 19,400 schools around the country organizing school bus transportation with a fleet of 22,500 buses. We will inspect these buses and drivers as well. Once again, Mr President, we are aware of our responsibility and we will focus efforts on addressing this sad increase by 21 percent in the number of passengers killed as a result of bus drivers’ errors.

This ends my report.

Vladimir Putin:

Fine.

We will return to this issue some time later. For now, please tell me how things are going.
This year the weather has not been good for rural residents. In this context, here is a question to Mr. Tkachev: how is harvesting progressing?

Minister of Agriculture Alexander Tkachev:

Mr. President, colleagues,

A few words about the harvest. Low temperatures in a number of regions delayed harvesting by two weeks. However, farmers are actively taking in the harvest from fields. They have collected the first 20 million tons. This is a bit less than by the same time last year – 20 percent less. Nonetheless, the results in the south (Rostov, Kuban, and Stavropol, where I was yesterday) show that the crop yield will be higher and the quality of grain is fairly good.

So far, crop failure has been minimal although bad weather made it difficult to work in the fields almost in all regions. The south of Russia and the Volga area were hit by heavy rain, frost and hail. Soil is waterlogged throughout Central Russia. The rates of field work have slowed down beyond the Urals, in Siberia and the Far East due to floods and waterlogging.

The only threat we are facing today is that the bad weather will last through autumn, in which case it will be difficult to take in the crop. If it is fairly dry in autumn – September and October are vital for the Urals and Siberia – we can hope to harvest more than 105 million tons of grain this year. This is less than last year but enough for domestic consumption – about 70 million tons, including 20 million tons of food, 40 million tons of fodder, and 10 million tons of seeds. Another 35 million tons may be used for export.

We expect despite the losses that the harvest of vegetables and fruit will be at the level of last year, primarily owing to the construction of new hothouses and the fruiting of new gardens. Cold weather and rains delayed the planting of many vegetables – cabbage, potatoes and carrots. This is why the new domestic crop was late to come to the market. Therefore, bad weather explains the additional price hike in June above the typical seasonal increase in prices.

Usually, price hikes are the highest in May – domestic produce is in short supply while imports are the highest. This year prices became stable only in late June. A seven percent decline in prices was registered on July 17, when the first crops from the south of the country arrived at the shops. Vegetable prices will be much lower in August-September and the situation will be fully stabilized.

In order to minimize seasonal price fluctuations over the coming years, we need to build more vegetable storage facilities that would make it possible to use Russian produce until the summer harvest. The Government State Program makes provisions for state support for building and modernizing storage facilities for potatoes, vegetables and fruit. Last year, we built and modernized storage facilities with a total capacity of 250,000 tons at a time. Now, we have a capacity of around 7 million tons, and we need around another five million. We plan to bring facilities for about another 2 million tones into operation by 2020, which will reduce the storage deficit by half.

We want to carry out this program not with federal and regional budget funding alone though, but to get outside investors involved as well. This is something we discussed with the Economic Development Ministry and the Central Bank. We will get private pension funds involved in this work, which will protect us from the effects of adverse weather in the future.

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin:

How much new vegetable storage capacity do you plan to build and in what timeframe?


Meeting with Russian Government members.
Meeting with Russian Government members.


Alexander Tkachev:

We plan to build around 2 million tons by 2020.

Vladimir Putin:

Around 2 million by 2020?

Alexander Tkachev:

That is right, by 2020. But we still need to build another 2 million-2.5 million tons, and so this will require another 3–5 years.

Vladimir Putin:

So, there is still a shortage of storage capacity?

Alexander Tkachev:

Yes. Mr President, we never seriously addressed this issue in the past, as you know very well. Only over these past two years, with state support, the Government has started working actively with farmers and agribusiness companies. Economic Development Minister Maxim Oreshkin recently came to the Agriculture Ministry and we decided to bring in additional funding from extra-budgetary sources to speed up the implementation of this program.

Vladimir Putin:

Good, thank you.

Let us now turn to the main item on our agenda today – using information technology to improve access to medical care and medicines.

You know that back in March, the meeting of the Council for Strategic Development and Priority Projects considered ways to improve the healthcare system, including the need to actively introduce digital technology into this sphere, which will open up fundamentally new possibilities for medical doctors and, most importantly, significantly improve the level of medical care in our country.
The task of computerizing hospitals and outpatient clinics, as well as connecting them to high-speed internet, was also set in the Address to the Federal Assembly. I would like to hear how this work is progressing.

Notably, many medical organizations already make active use of electronic documents, electronic medical records and electronic doctor appointments. Telemedicine services are expanding. We are aware that, unfortunately, there are issues, including, strangely enough, with organizing this kind of digital work. Let us discuss this, as well.

To reiterate, all of this will help the patients, regardless of their place of residence, to get qualified medical care, and doctors will be relieved of unnecessary paperwork, and spend more time focusing on the patients.

Today, the State Duma is considering, in the second reading, a draft law that should form a regulatory framework for the functioning of a unified information system in healthcare. I hope that this important document will soon be adopted, and I would like you to provide a clear deadline for completing the implementation of this system.

Next, the Government has already considered the issue of establishing a system for monitoring and controlling the procurement of medicines for public and municipal needs. It should reduce prices and streamline budget spending, which means that the state will be able to provide free medicines to a larger number of eligible patients.

I would like to emphasize that access to free medicines is one of the most acute issues. This issue was raised, as you may be aware, during the Direct Line with the President, and the Minister of Healthcare and I have also discussed it. I am sure people in the regions put these questions to you as they do to me at various events. I would like the Government to focus on ways to resolve this issue.
As far as we know, the drug procurement monitoring and control system has been in test mode since March. It should start running full-scale in January 2018. It is important to make this system fully operational, and make sure the bidders are fully accountable for the accuracy and reliability of the data they put into the system.

Let us work through this issue thoroughly.

Ms. Skvortsova, you have the floor.

Healthcare Minister Veronika Skvortsova:

Mr. President, colleagues,

Using digital medical technology is particularly important for developing healthcare and enhancing access, quality and effectiveness of healthcare. Digital medicine is thus one of our priority strategic development projects and one of the Digital Economy program’s five main components.

Mr. President, as you have said, you outlined in your Annual Address the priority steps for developing digital technology in the healthcare sector as related to overseeing the market of vitally important medicines and preventing price hikes when hospitals and medical centers make their purchases. This way we can increase the number of people eligible for state-subsidized medicines; improve working conditions for doctors, particularly in primary medical care, by cutting the time they spend on matters not related to their primary activity, and introduce convenient services for interaction between the public and medical organizations.

Acting on your instructions to improve the provision of medicines and reduce inefficient spending in the regions, the Healthcare Ministry and state corporation Rostec have developed and launched the experimental operation of an information and analytical system for the monitoring and oversight of state and municipal medicine purchases.

To develop a new purchase management model, the Healthcare Ministry put together a structured reference book and catalogue of medicines based on state registers, registered medicines, and maximum sale prices. Together with the relevant federal bodies – the Treasury, the Finance Ministry, and the Federal Antimonopoly Service, we integrated the new information and analysis system with the unified purchasing information system. Essentially, the catalogue of medicines is now integrated into the purchasing system. This makes it possible to rapidly analyze information on purchase planning and based on tender results. The system calculates average market prices for similar purchases of international non-patented and trademark medicines and identifies any deviations from these averages.

Pursuant to your instructions of March 1, this system is now working in trial mode, collecting data, and, at the same time, working through some of the technical subtleties of the system’s functioning. To date, the system has registered 29,400 executed contracts for 22,200 trademark medicines worth a total of 20.6 billion rubles. Today, we can already see the average prices in real time, including in terms of producers, suppliers and state customers for medicines.

The plan provides for putting the system into commercial operation on January 1. To make this possible we must adopt some normative acts this year. The main one is the law you mentioned, Mr. President. This is the law on a single healthcare information system on the country’s entire territory. One of its components is information and analytical monitoring of purchases. This law will also introduce regulations in electronic document management and telemedicine.

On June 15, the law passed its first reading. Now it has been submitted for the second reading and for us it is extremely important to adopt this law during the spring session.

(The Minister went on to list specific legal acts and resolutions of the Government, which should be adopted to ensure the functioning of the information and analysis system.)

Further development of the information and analysis system is related to its integration with other segments of the Single State Healthcare Information System, which will make it possible to track the entire process of pharmaceutical support: from checking the accuracy of medical prescriptions based on clinical recommendations to assessing the amounts of leftover medicines in medical institutions, pharmacies and warehouses. A relevant pilot project on providing two regions – St Petersburg and Sverdlovsk Region – with oncological medicines was launched this year in cooperation with the company Biokad.

We are also planning to integrate the information and analysis system with the automated monitoring of the movement of medicines on the basis of their marking, which will allow us to quickly find low-grade and counterfeit products, recall them from the market and, most importantly, prevent their repeated return to it, that is, the resale of expensive medicines bought on government money for preferential provision.

As for other components of digital medicine, in 2014 we summed up the results of the modernization program in this area and adopted a plan for developing regional medical information systems. In 2015, the Healthcare Ministry signed an agreement on the regional plan for healthcare information support for three years with every region of the Russian Federation. The aim of these agreements was to even out regional differences on information support by late 2018.

To date, 75 percent of the medical workers’ workplaces have been automated; 72 percent of medical organizations and detached structural units, 18,100 in total, have been connected to high-speed internet, with 13,800 medical organizations and detached units waiting to be connected. Of these, 7,100 do not have access to the internet, and 6,700 need their current connection upgraded; 64 percent of medical organizations and detached structural units are connected to a protected data transmission network.

Medical information systems have been introduced in 72 Russian regions and almost 7,000 medical organizations, which is about one-third of the total need. Integrated regional medical information systems have been formed in 82 Russian regions, with the exception of Oryol and Tver regions and Chukotka Autonomous Area.

Centralized Medical Image Archives websites have been created in most regions, with 66 regions actively using this website to transmit images from devices located in over 2,000 medical organizations, as well as a website for lab tests with 61 regions transmitting electronic lab results at outpatient clinics and hospitals. The medical vehicle dispatching system has been introduced in 78 regions, with over 89 percent of ambulance stations connected to it.

The accessibility of medical care, quick and hassle-free doctor appointments are particularly important for our people. To achieve this, electronic schedules of doctors' hours and the possibility of making online doctor appointments have been introduced. Currently, 82 Russian regions are using the electronic doctor appointment system, except Pskov Region, the Chechen Republic, and Chukotka Autonomous Area.

Our goal is to ensure consistent and high-quality doctor appointment service in all outpatient clinics of the country using the patient's user account on the Unified Portal of Public Services before the end of 2018 as medical organizations get connected to the internet.

(Minister Skvortsova then went on to discuss the system to monitor the time spent by patients at outpatient clinics as they wait for the doctor to see them, the introduction of electronic paperwork, and other aspects of implementing information systems at medical organizations.)

The introduction of the information and analysis system in healthcare will make it possible to launch the register of electronic medical documents. This nation-wide uniform register will contain the documents of each patient, which will make it more convenient for patients and ensure continuity in the diagnosis and treatment of patients in various clinics in different period of their lives.

Needless to say, personal data on patients will be strictly protected and anonymous in the database. Access to the register will be given only to patients through personal accounts and an attending physician by agreement with the patient. The federal platform – the register of online medical documents – will be launched this year and will start gathering information after the law comes into force. The complete switch to electronic medical documents will be conducted stage-by-stage until 2024 depending on the readiness of the infrastructure of medical institutions. The deadlines for introducing electronic document management are fully coordinated with the Digital Economy program.

I would also like to mention the introduction of telemedicine and its technology, which is important for making medical care more accessible and improving its quality.

Remote cooperation between physicians has been practiced in Russian medicine for several years now. Tele medical complexes for communication between regional vascular centers and primary vascular units were established during the introduction of the vascular program in 2008 and have been actively working for practically a decade. Medical institutions were equipped with tele medical systems involving video links during the modernization program.

Today telemedicine exists in 83 regions of the Russian Federation (the Altai Republic and the Chukotka Autonomous Area are the only two regions that are not using it) and over 4,400 medical institutions are actively using it. In 2016, we started the formation of a vertically integrated tele medical system that links our national medical research centers with relevant regional units. Seventy percent of the regions are already connected to this system. We plan to connect all 700 third level regional institutions to the federal tele medical system in 2017–2018. They will be provided with continuous methodological support, remote case conferences with video links and mandatory electronic management of paperwork and preservation of digital images.

The existing base of anonymous digital medical images analyzed by the federal center specialists will form the basis for creating and implementing intelligent systems for supporting medical decisions.

Notably, the first such Russian system for early diagnosis of stage one lung cancer is being effectively tested. After we properly interpreted the first 13,000 computer and magnetic resonance images and put them into the system, the program began to show high diagnostic effectiveness. This testing is carried out on the basis of the Federal Preventive Care Centre.

Telemedicine technologies are used for individual health monitoring as well. Currently, Russia has a vast array of non-invasive personal telemedicine devices for remote interaction between the doctor and the patient. This year, we will finalize the implementation of two pilot projects in Tyumen and Leningrad regions, where we remotely monitor at-risk patients’ blood pressure. According to preliminary data for the first half of the year, such an approach allows us to correct the pressure in a timely manner, and reduce the number of hypertensive crises, emergency hospitalizations involving an ambulance, and the death rate. Within the framework of the national Health Net program, one of the objectives to achieve by 2025 is to expand the individual health monitoring system to all regions of the country.

Mr. President, today we have already made good progress in developing digital medical technologies, and all of our plans, both the near- and medium-term ones, will be implemented under three basic conditions. They include the early adoption of the law (we hope, it will be done during this spring session), since it is the law that establishes the mandatory operation of the regional segments of our system. The second is the implementation by the regions of the road maps on regional computerization signed by the governors. The third is the execution of the plan of the Ministry of Communications based on the directive in the Address, on connecting all outpatient clinics and hospitals to high-speed internet by late 2018.

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin:

The Duma spring session will last only three more days.

Veronika Skvortsova:

Mr. President, the hearing of the law will be held today at 18.30.

Vladimir Putin:

Fine.

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