Greetings to VI Session of World Congress of Tatars.

Vladimir Putin sent greetings to the delegates and guests of the VI Session of the World Congress of Tatars, held in Kazan.


The message reads, in part:

“I believe that your forum is a major event with a great social impact that brings together participants from various regions of Russia and a number of other countries. The diversity of religions, cultures and traditions is rightly regarded as one of the main riches of our multi-ethnic Fatherland. It is a priority for the state to preserve the identity and unique character of every ethnic group, and strengthen peace, and inter-ethnic and inter-religious cohesion in the country. It is essential that major public initiatives, such as the World Congress of Tatars, contribute to the success of these large-scale and highly relevant efforts. This year the Congress celebrates its 25th anniversary. The efforts of the World Congress of Tatars to promote the Tatar language and culture, and implement important educational projects and awareness campaigns, including in the area of international cooperation, deserve our outmost respect.

I strongly believe that the session will be held in a creative and constructive atmosphere, helping promote business ties and people-to-people contacts.”

Working meeting with Healthcare Minister Veronika Skvortsova.

Vladimir Putin had a working meeting with Healthcare Minister Veronika Skvortsova who updated the President on the current status and development plans for the healthcare system in Russia.

Vladimir Putin with Healthcare Minister Veronika Skvortsova.
Vladimir Putin with Healthcare Minister Veronika Skvortsova.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin:

Ms. Skvortsova, there are many questions, of course, since you work in a very active field. Let's begin with the availability of medical care.

Healthcare Minister Veronika Skvortsova:

Thank you, Mr. President.

Actually, this is the most common reason for complaints to the Ministry, to Roszdravnadzor or regional healthcare departments. We began to deal with this problem systematically from 2014–2015. First, we updated the entire Soviet regulatory framework on demand for medical infrastructure in various locations, with differing populations and distances to the nearest medical center. For the first time, we established wait time deadlines for medical care of various types – emergency, intensive care, primary care, district doctors, planned hospitalization, and so on.

Based on this information, we created a geo-information layered interactive map, which shows 157,000 localities, all transport infrastructure and 74,000 medical centers. This map helps automatically calculate the time and distance for each locality to provide a specific type of medical assistance.

This slide shows an example: two towns – Apatity and Kirovsk – are 17 kilometers away. This program automatically calculates the time, taking into account the condition of the roads, even making seasonal adjustments – 23 minutes.

We can see all available medical institutions with their capacities, beds, specialization and so on, for each location, respectively. This map allowed us to estimate the risks for each region, for residents in each locality by the beginning of 2016. By May 2016, we concluded agreements and signed road maps with all the regional governors to eliminate the risks and shortcomings that we identified.

Vladimir Putin and Healthcare Minister Veronika Skvortsova.
Vladimir Putin and Healthcare Minister Veronika Skvortsova.
Over the past five years, we have built 2,000 new medical facilities, most of which are primary care and rural medicine facilities. In 2016, we built more than 550 facilities, 500 of which are paramedic centers, rural medical assistance centers, rural outpatient clinics and offices of general practitioners. Over the past five years, 20,000 medical institutions have been renovated, 2,650 of which were renovated in 2016. They are primarily small facilities but are of great importance for patients in need of primary medical care.

Nevertheless, as of January 1, 2017, out of 157,000 localities, we still have 9,900 whose population has limited access in accordance with the norms of medical care of one kind or another.

I would like to note that there are 80,000 localities with the population of up to 100 people, 8,866 of which do not have access to primary care in close proximity (at least within an hour). There are 43,000 localities with population from 100 to 1,000 people, 865 of which do not have enough paramedic centers; localities with population from 1,000 to 10,000 people lack 169 rural outpatient clinics.

In view of the absolutely clear shortage, we have developed a priority project program for building paramedic centers and rural outpatient clinics and purchasing of mobile diagnostic modules. This priority project was preliminary discussed in the Government at the level of deputy prime ministers, it was approved, and we hope that in the near future it will be implemented to help the regions.

In addition, we have been implementing for the second year a program to modernize ambulances. Last year, we upgraded 37 percent of class B ambulances with a run-on operation of over five years and 19 percent of class C ambulances (mobile ICUs). This year, the program will be continued, and at least a thousand vehicles will be purchased for the regions.

In addition, for the first time this year we are carrying out a program to develop air ambulances in 34 regions. These are regions with the maximum need for air ambulances; they perform 87 percent of the total volume of services. We are now monitoring this situation. It is developing quite positively, and the regions are very pleased with this opportunity. We hope that this will allow us to accelerate emergency medical care for residents of remote areas.

Mr. President, the project we are carrying out with Rosatom experts called Economical Clinic, or a ‘technology factory’, is an important initiative to increase healthcare accessibility. I reported to you about this project last March. At the time the project had been implemented at six outpatient clinics in only three regions, while now it has expanded to 99 clinics in 37 regions. Waiting times have decreased 12 times, appointments have become easier to make, the so-called polite receptions are operating – and this did not require any excessive resources and happened only due to established logistics and better management. It is important to note that there are different lines for patients with ongoing cases and patients requiring a regular check-up.

As concerns preventive medical examinations, the first stage can now be completed in one visit. So the program is working. I selected several recent examples for you, from Udmurtia, Buryatia, Yaroslavl Region, Kaliningrad and Sevastopol. Thirty-seven regions are already included in the project. The results have been in fact evaluated very highly by the public. Over the first months since this innovation, the patients’ satisfaction level went up by 10 to 15 percent on average. The patients noted friendly environment and comfort at medical facilities.

Staffing in the healthcare sector is an essential aspect of making healthcare more accessible. We receive many complaints regarding the shortage of primary care practitioners, including specialized doctors.

Vladimir Putin:

What is the percentage?

Valentina Skvortsova:

Primary care currently lacks 10,700 general practitioners and pediatricians and around 24,000 specialized doctors of 94 specializations. However, progress has been made over the past three years. The number of doctors in primary care has increased by 37,000 (14 percent), including a 25-percent increase in the number of doctors working in rural areas under the Rural Doctor program. There has been a significant increase of 10 to 25 percent in the number of the most sought-after specialists, that is, not only GPs and pediatricians (ophthalmologists, otorhinolaryngologists, cardiologists and neurologists are in the shortest supply).

According to our forecasts, we will need two to three years to address this deficit. I would like to report that serious system-wide measures have been taken in order to offset this deficit, prevent it in the future, and ensure that the system is balanced. First, university students will be graduating this year for the first time under a new program and new standards, including physicians and pediatricians, who can start working only after completing a three-stage accreditation examination. As we increased specialized training, which now accounts for more than 50 percent of the curriculum, and enhanced its efficiency to 90 percent, we will have about 11,000 young specialists ready to start working as physicians or pediatricians in outpatient clinics. Taking into account that 5.5 percent to 10 percent of this workforce retires every year on average, depending on the region, we will resolve this situation in a matter of two or three years.

Vladimir Putin:

Do you expect to have a steady surplus?

Veronika Skvortsova:

Yes, we have a surplus so far. It is essential that our young specialists find jobs in the regions. We are working hard on it.

This year, the Healthcare Ministry has taken a new step to improve medical residency training. Until this year, people could apply for a state-funded scholarship or enroll on a for-pay basis without passing any exams. This year, however, we issued an order whereby everyone has to go through a basic accreditation examination in order to benefit from graduate medical training. After all, an ophthalmologist cannot treat eyes without knowing how the human body works. In addition, we made enrolment for residency training positions a competitive process, which includes a test, and takes into account the applicant’s achievements, like an honors degree, an individual or presidential scholarship, and work experience at medical institutions. Special credits are given to those who worked as doctors in rural areas. This innovation, which took us a year to develop, will allow us to admit, on an absolutely fair basis, the best students, giving them the opportunity to become specialist doctors.

<…>

Greetings to Russian participants at 23rd Summer Deaflympics.

Vladimir Putin sent a message of greetings to the Russian delegation participating in the 23rd Summer Deaflympics in Samsun, Turkey.

The message reads, in part:

”Everyone – athletes, coaches and specialists – did their best, demonstrating team solidarity and a winning attitude. Once again, you convincingly proved that our Deaflympic team is the strongest on the planet.

Today's meeting is a tribute of great respect to your courage, hard work and strength of mind.

Once again, I congratulate you on an excellent ending to the Games. I wish you good luck and all the best.“

Vladimir Putin congratulated Edita Piekha on her birthday.

Russian President congratulated variety singer and National Artist of the USSR Edita Piekha on her birthday.

The message reads, in part:

“Your vast and generous talent and your boundless devotion to the art brought you exceptional professional success, made you one of the brightest stars in our country’s entertainment firmament and won you genuine love and recognition of the people.”

Vladimir Putin signed executive order awarding Ms. Piekha the Order for Services to the Fatherland II degree for her great contribution to cultural development in Russia and her many years of fruitful work.

On July 31, Edita Piekha, one of the legends of Russia’s variety scene, celebrates her 80th birthday and 60 years of her artistic career.

Meeting with Head of Kalmykia Alexei Orlov.

Vladimir Putin had a working meeting with Head of the Republic of Kalmykia Alexei Orlov.

Meeting with Head of Kalmykia Alexei Orlov.
Meeting with Head of Kalmykia Alexei Orlov.
Mr. Orlov briefed the President on the socioeconomic situation in the region. Also discussed were appeals made by Kalmykia residents during Direct Line with the President.

Mr. Putin noted that there has been progress in Kalmykia, but reminded Mr. Orlov of the problems local people raised during Direct Line. They include water supply problems, even in the regional capital, difficulties in purchasing needed medicines, even for people eligible to subsidized medicines, and complaints that schools are asking parents to buy school equipment.

Vladimir Putin with Head of Kalmykia Alexei Orlov.
Vladimir Putin with Head of Kalmykia Alexei Orlov.
The President asked that these complaints be given full examination and not just passed on down the line. Vladimir Putin noted that he looks into such matters personally and asked to the regional head to do the same. Alexei Orlov promised to take the matters under his personal control without delay.

PHOTO:
Head of Kalmykia Alexei Orlov.
Head of Kalmykia Alexei Orlov.

Vladimir Putin at a meeting with Head of Kalmykia Alexei Orlov.
Vladimir Putin at a meeting with Head of Kalmykia Alexei Orlov.

Vladimir Putin visited the Admiralty building.

A reception to mark Russian Navy Day was hosted at the restored Admiralty building, which houses the Russian Navy Headquarters.

Vladimir Putin visited Admiralty building.
Vladimir Putin visited Admiralty building.
The Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Armed Forces, accompanied by Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy Admiral Vladimir Korolev, toured the library premises and viewed its unique Russian naval history documents, including those from the Peter the Great era.

The President was also shown the office of the Russian Empire's last Naval Minister, Ivan Grigorovich. Once restored, the room can again be used as the main office of the Russian Navy Commander-in-Chief. Vladimir Putin left a note in the distinguished visitors’ book saying, ”My congratulations on completing the restoration. I wish you success in your work in the name of the Russian Fleet.“

In the Admiralty building, the President also viewed an exhibition of the Central Naval Museum.

The restoration of the Admiralty building began in 2013, with repairs being made on the facades and the roof, and reinforcements done to the tower and the building’s foundation. At the end of 2013, the Church of Saint Spyridon, Bishop of Trimythous, was opened in the tower with the steeple at the intersection of Admiralty Embankment and Dvortsovy Proezd.

Following the visit to the Admiralty, the President attended a reception to mark Russian Navy Day.

* * *

Speech at the reception to mark Russian Navy Day (Vladimir Putin).

Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin. Speech at the reception to mark Russian Navy Day.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin:

Ladies and gentlemen, veterans,

Once again, my heartfelt congratulations to you on this holiday!

Navy Day is among the most popular holidays with the Russian people, who have hold in high regard people in naval uniforms, their nobility and heroism, and their professional traditions.

Today, we honor courageous, strong-spirited people. You have chosen to serve in the navy, protect the interests of our Motherland and provide security of its citizens, while making a great contribution to the strengthening of Russia's defense capacity and global stature.

My most heartfelt congratulations to the veterans of the Great Patriotic War. You fought to bring victory on board military ships, on land, and as part of combined naval units, marine infantry units. You have always been an example of perseverance and bravery.

Vladimir Putin visited the historical building of the Admiralty.
Vladimir Putin visited the historical building of the Admiralty.
My special words of gratitude go to workers, engineers and designers. Shipbuilders’ Day, a holiday that was established this year, is the result of the well-deserved appreciation people have for the work of the many generations of people who have given life to ships and continue to do so.

Today, thanks to the potential of the country's industry and science, we are strengthening the national defense and replenishing our Navy with state-of-the-art vessels and equipment. Last year, the fleet received 24 surface ships, two general-purpose submarines, and a service ship. This year, we plan to commission 30 ships and vessels.

We will strictly follow our other plans for the Navy's development to boost our arsenal of modern weapons and raise the quality of combat training. And, of course, we will provide all necessary social support and assistance to servicemen and their families.

Vladimir Putin. Reception to mark Russian Navy Day.
Vladimir Putin. Reception to mark Russian Navy Day.

Friends,

We are rightfully proud of our legendary naval commanders, brave and bold officers and mariners, fearless pioneers of Arctic travels and the world’s oceans, we are proud of today's generation of Russian Navy mariners, of all those who consider fidelity to duty and the oath to serve, honor and responsibility, and the spirit of military brotherhood as being of the utmost importance.

Here is to Russian Navy and the prosperity of our dear Motherland!

Congratulations!


Greetings to Russia’s Airborne Forces on Paratroopers Day.

Vladimir Putin congratulated the paratroopers and veterans of Russia’s Airborne Forces on Paratroopers Day.

The message reads, in part:

“Today, we honor courageous people strong in spirit, who, at the call of their heart, have chosen the challenging, responsible and noble task of serving in the Airborne Forces. They are guided in their actions by the code of an enduring brotherhood in arms, and are ready at any moment to defend their Fatherland with their own lives. Of course, the warmest words of gratitude go to veteran paratroopers, who, by their valor and bravery, have shaped the history of the legendary airborne forces.

It is essential that today’s generation of soldiers and officers upholds the traditions set by those who preceded them, that they are up to the task, invariably demonstrating impeccable skill, unity and fidelity to their military duty, and serving Russia faithfully.”

Visit to the Kirov Military Medical Academy Clinic.

Vladimir Putin visited the Multidisciplinary Clinic of the Kirov Military Medical Academy.

Vladimir Putin visited the Kirov Military Medical Academy Clinic.
Vladimir Putin visited the Kirov Military Medical Academy Clinic.
The clinic boasts seven multi-story buildings, with a total area of 150,000 square meters, and is fitted with the latest medical equipment, which can provide simultaneous in-patient treatment to 630 people.

Visit to the Kirov Military Medical Academy Clinic.
Visit to the Kirov Military Medical Academy Clinic.

The President was told about the features of the medical facility and treatment methods used. Vladimir Putin toured the diagnostics and intensive care departments and learned about the work of the situation center for coordinating medical maintenance, which, in particular, can hold telemedicine consultations through video link. The President also visited the dialysis department, the ophthalmology clinic and operating rooms.

PHOTO:
Vladimir Putin during a visit to the Multidisciplinary Clinic of the Kirov Military Medical Academy.
Vladimir Putin during a visit to the Multidisciplinary Clinic of the Kirov Military Medical Academy.
Vladimir Putin signs the distinguished visitors’ book during his visit to the Multidisciplinary Clinic of the Kirov Military Medical Academy.
Vladimir Putin signs the distinguished visitors’ book during his visit to the Multidisciplinary Clinic of the Kirov Military Medical Academy.
Russian President visiting the Kirov Military Medical Academy Clinic.
Russian President visiting the Kirov Military Medical Academy Clinic.
Vladimir Putin with Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Healthcare Minister Veronika Skvortsova.
Vladimir Putin with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Healthcare Minister Veronika Skvortsova.

Visit to Naval Cathedral of St. Nicholas in Kronstadt.

Vladimir Putin visited the Stavropegial Naval Cathedral of St. Nicholas in Kronstadt accompanied by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.

Vladimir Putin visited to the Naval Cathedral of St Nicholas in Kronstadt.
Vladimir Putin visited to the Naval Cathedral of St Nicholas in Kronstadt.
The President toured the cathedral and spoke with sailors and Kronstadt residents there.

Ahead of Navy Day, on July 27, a shrine with the relics of Saint Blessed Warrior Fyodor Ushakov was brought to the cathedral from the Sanaksar Monastery of the Nativity of the Mother of God. This year marks the bicentenary of Ushakov’s demise. The President came up to kiss the relics of Admiral Ushakov and Apostle Andrew the First-Called.

Naval Cathedral of Saint Nicholas in Kronstadt.
Naval Cathedral of Saint Nicholas in Kronstadt.
The Stavropegial Naval Cathedral of St. Nicholas was laid down in the fortress city of Kronstadt after Emperor Nicholas II’s 1903 decree in honor of the bicentenary of the Russian Navy and was blessed in Royal presence in 1913. In 1929 the Cathedral was closed down and pillaged. In 2002, Alexis II, the Holy Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, blessed the resurrection of the Naval Cathedral in Kronstadt. Restoration works ran through the spring of 2013. The grand blessing of the cathedral was conducted on May 28, 2013 by His Beatitude Theophilos III, Patriarch of the Holy City of Jerusalem, and His Holiness Patriarch Kirill. The abbot of the cathedral is Archimandrite Alexei Ganzhin. The cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is protected by the state.

PHOTO:
Naval Cathedral of St Nicholas in Kronstadt.
Naval Cathedral of St. Nicholas in Kronstadt.

Vladimir Putin with Kronstadt residents after visiting the Naval Cathedral of St. Nicholas.
Vladimir Putin with Kronstadt residents after visiting the Naval Cathedral of St. Nicholas.

Vladimir Putin with Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.
Vladimir Putin with Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.

Visit to the Naval Cathedral of St Nicholas in Kronstadt. With Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.
Visit to the Naval Cathedral of St Nicholas in Kronstadt. With Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.

Vladimir Putin in the Naval Cathedral of St. Nicholas in Kronstadt.
Vladimir Putin in the Naval Cathedral of St. Nicholas in Kronstadt.

The Main Naval Parade in St. Petersburg.

Vladimir Putin arrived in St. Petersburg on Navy Day to review the Main Naval Parade held in the Neva and inner harbor of Kronstadt.



In accordance with the Presidential Executive Order of July 27, 2017, the Main Naval Parade was held for the first time in Russia’s modern history. The parade featured the passing of ships and a marine air force unit overflight. Sailors from the Baltic, Black Sea, Northern and Pacific fleets and the Caspian Flotilla participated in the parade.

Vladimir Putin and Sergei Shoigu. The main Naval Parade in St. Petersburg.
Vladimir Putin and Sergei Shoigu. The main Naval Parade in St. Petersburg.

* * *

Speech at the Main Naval Parade.


President of Russia Vladimir Putin:

Comrade sailors, midshipmen, petty officers, officers and admirals,

Dear veterans,

My congratulations on Navy Day!

This holiday is celebrated in each Russian region and with special solemnity, at the bases and in the garrisons of the Northern, Pacific, Baltic, Black Sea fleets and the Caspian Flotilla.

Russia’s history is inseparable from the victories of its courageous and fearless Navy. Our country’s status as a strong marine power has been achieved through the brave acts of sailors and officers, the inventive talent of our shipbuilders and the daring exploits of sea explorers.

Vladimir Putin. Speech at the Main Naval Parade in St. Petersburg.
Vladimir Putin. Speech at the Main Naval Parade in St. Petersburg.
Throughout the centuries, the fortitude and tenacity of Russian sailors was tempered in battles. Both on land and at sea, they mastered their military skills, strengthened the traditions of their unique naval brotherhood.

During the Great Patriotic War the Navy fought to the bitter end on the coasts and sea borders of our native lands. The Battles of Odessa and Sevastopol, heroic deeds of the Northern Sea Fleet sailors, legendary raids by Soviet submarines, the defense of Leningrad and the impregnable Kronstadt have been forever enshrined in the chronicles of history.

The Navy and commitment to Fatherland are inseparable. As Admiral Nakhimov used to say, a sailor has neither an easy nor difficult path, but rather a glorious one.

Vladimir Putin at the main Naval Parade in St. Petersburg.
Vladimir Putin at the main Naval Parade in St. Petersburg.
And everyone currently serving, in our ground forces and submarines, in the marine air force, in the coastal defense, and those who work in the shipbuilding industry, all are faithful to these vows. Their high moral and professional qualities have been and will remain the foundation of successful service in the Navy, and the state will offer its full support.

Much is being done today for the development and renovation of the Navy. New ships are being commissioned, the fleet’s combat training and readiness are being perfected.

Seamanship is chosen by the vigorous and strong-willed, by those who dare to defy the elements, who cannot imagine themselves without the sea, without difficult and noble service to their Fatherland.

Friends,

Today the Navy is not only solving its traditional tasks but is also nobly responding to new challenges, making a significant contribution to the fight against terrorism and piracy.


The children and grandchildren of today’s sailors will take pride in their forefathers. Of this I am certain. Because your exemplary training, promptness and discipline are borne out during both training exercises and combat operations.
Vladimir Putin. Navy Day.
Vladimir Putin. Navy Day.
I want to express gratitude to those who wait for you in your homes and keep you warm with their love.

Thank you for your readiness and your ability to solve the most complicated tasks, for your worthy service and your unwavering allegiance to our Motherland and to our people.

Glory to the Navy!

Happy holiday!

Hurray!

Greetings to participants and guests of International Army Games 2017.

International Army Games will be held from July 29 to August 12.

Vladimir Putin sent greetings to organizers, participants and guests of International Army Games 2017.
Vladimir Putin sent greetings to organizers, participants and guests of International Army Games 2017.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin:

It is my pleasure to welcome the organizers, participants and guests of the International Army Games.

This is the third time these competitions of military professionals are being held. Year after year, their program and geographical scope are expanding. The number of teams from various countries is growing. They demonstrate their military excellence on the land, in the air and at sea. They display the best qualities required in military service: combat skills and discipline, efficient teamwork, and the ability to promptly take decisions that not only the success of operations but the very lives of their fellows will depend on in real combat.

I am confident that these International Army Games will provide an opportunity to exchange experience and compare the capabilities of various weapons and military equipment. However, most importantly, they will strengthen the traditions of partnership and mutual support. They will promote cooperation among military agencies of various countries, as well as among our peoples.

I wish good luck and new victories to all the participants and vivid impressions to the spectators.

Visit to Savonlinna Opera Festival.

Vladimir Putin and President of Finland Sauli Niinisto attended a performance of the opera Iolanta presented by the Bolshoi Theatre as part of the annual Savonlinna Opera Festival.

Vladimir Putin with Bolshoi Theatre Director Vladimir Urin (left) and President of Finland Sauli Niinisto during a performance of the opera Iolanta at Olavinlinna Castle.
Vladimir Putin with Bolshoi Theatre Director Vladimir Urin (left) and President of Finland Sauli Niinisto during a performance of the opera Iolanta at Olavinlinna Castle.
The presidents of Russia and Finland travelled to the medieval Olavinlinna Castle aboard the steamboat S/S Saimaa.

Before the performance in Olavinlinna Castle’s King’s Hall, Vladimir Putin and Sauli Niinisto attended a reception hosted by the Chair of the Savonlinna City Council.



After the official part of the visit was over, Vladimir Putin and Sauli Niinisto had a productive one-on-one discussion that lasted some 90 minutes.

PHOTO:
Vladimir Putin with President of Finland Sauli Niinisto after the performance of Iolanta at Olavinlinna Castle.
Vladimir Putin with President of Finland Sauli Niinisto after the performance of Iolanta at Olavinlinna Castle.
Vladimir Putin with President of Finland Sauli Niinisto.
Vladimir Putin with President of Finland Sauli Niinisto.
Vladimir Putin with President of Finland Sauli Niinisto aboard the steamboat S/S Saimaa.
Vladimir Putin with President of Finland Sauli Niinisto aboard the steamboat S/S Saimaa.
Russian President with President of Finland Sauli Niinisto aboard the steamboat S/S Saimaa.
Russian President with President of Finland Sauli Niinisto aboard the steamboat S/S Saimaa.
Arrival at Olavinlinna Castle. Vladimir Putin and President of Finland Sauli Niinisto.
Arrival at Olavinlinna Castle. Vladimir Putin and President of Finland Sauli Niinisto.
Olavinlinna Castle.
Olavinlinna Castle.
Before the opera Iolanta at Olavinlinna Castle.
Before the opera Iolanta at Olavinlinna Castle.
Reception hosted by the Chair of the Savonlinna City Council at Olavinlinna Castle.
Reception hosted by the Chair of the Savonlinna City Council at Olavinlinna Castle.

Joint news conference with President of Finland Sauli Niinisto.

Vladimir Putin and Sauli Niinisto gave a joint news conference following bilateral talks.

Joint news conference with President of Finland Sauli Niinisto.
Joint news conference with President of Finland Sauli Niinisto.
President of Finland Sauli Niinisto (retranslated):

Welcome! I am sorry for keeping you waiting, but we had a lot of interesting topics to discuss.

This year, Finland celebrates the 100th anniversary of its independence, and we very much appreciate the fact that President Putin came here and will join us in celebrating this event. At the same time, we are celebrating the 25th anniversary of relations between our countries.

Once again, welcome. We very much appreciate your presence here.

Currently, as befits good neighbors, we have extensive bilateral relations and ties. We are also witnessing some new life, an upswing in relations, as things are looking up in the economic sphere in both countries. There are more tourists going to both countries, and bilateral trade has picked up significantly.


We also have common goals that we are striving to achieve. Notable is the toxic waste disposal site, Krasny Bor, near St. Petersburg. We discussed this issue last year. We made some progress, and samples were taken at this site. Indeed, our goal is to move forward in resolving this issue.

We also talked about the projects that were implemented in the Baltic Sea region. We mentioned the sewage treatment plants that were put into operation in Kaliningrad, and this also serves as a reminder about the Northern Dimension initiative, which has come to a standstill due to sanctions, but I believe that, nonetheless, we should not forget about it and keep it alive, at least in our thoughts, because Northern Dimension allowed us to achieve a lot of good things. We can mention the treatment facilities in St Petersburg, and now the treatment facilities in Kaliningrad, too.

We also talked about the security situation in the Baltic Sea region. We are planning major military exercises, West-2017 and Aurora. We are also keeping an eye on a certain intensification in the movement of military aircraft, ships, troops. In order for us to avoid negative consequences, situations that no one wants, we need to maintain dialogue.

I would also like for people here in Finland to see that not all is as bad as it seems and that progress has been made.

I also want to recall the interview that NATO Secretary General Mr. Stoltenberg gave. He described the recent NATO-Russia Council meeting as constructive.

Vladimir Putin and Sauli Niinisto gave a joint news conference following bilateral talks.
Vladimir Putin and Sauli Niinisto gave a joint news conference following bilateral talks.
The need for this kind of ongoing dialogue is also clear from the discussions taking place in the working group at ICAO, in which the Russian Federation is represented, as well as the other Baltic Sea countries and NATO. Working in this format, we have reached agreement on best practice regarding aviation and flight safety. Discussion and examination of the issues related to turning on transponders during flights continue there, and in a positive spirit, as far as we know.

We also discussed matters related to Finland’s chairmanship of the Arctic Council. Our country has only just taken up its functions as chair. President Putin showed great understanding with regard to the idea I put forward, the idea that Finland would make a proposal that would be very difficult to reject. This proposal is about fighting black soot pollution. This pollution is caused by aging energy production facilities, power stations, and flaring associated gas. Fighting black soot pollution does not impair anyone’s economic interests.

We also discussed the situation in Ukraine, in which we see no improvement. The most urgent task would be to agree on a truce. It is possible and essential to move forward, even if with only small steps. Such steps could include an exchange of persons in custody, for example. It would be possible to begin with these kinds of small steps.

Our talks were very substantive and interesting. We did not even manage to discuss everything. We have not yet discussed Syria, for example, or disarmament, which is another issue I very much hoped to discuss. But during the boat trip we will have a chance to talk about these and other matters, and I think there will be some time for us to talk in the evening, too.

Thank you very much for an interesting discussion.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin:

Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen,

I want to start by thanking Mr. Niinisto for the invitation, all the more so in this year when Finland is marking the 100th anniversary of its independence. In this connection, we have a big program of joint cultural events.

As for our talks, they took place in the constructive and friendly atmosphere, traditional for our contacts. This was our second meeting this year. We also visited each other in 2016. I am sure that this political dialogue is most certainly a positive factor for stimulating development of our bilateral ties.

Mr. Niinisto already mentioned that this year also marks the 25th anniversary of the treaty on the foundations of relations between Russia and Finland.

Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Today, we took a detailed look at the full spectrum of bilateral cooperation matters. We noted that our bilateral trade has picked up and posted an increase of close to 51 percent for the January-May period. Our common task is to support and do all we can to keep this pace going and preserve this trend. Our Intergovernmental Commission and Business Council are working on this.

I note the consistently high reciprocal interest of our countries’ business communities. Investment cooperation continues to develop. Russia’s direct investment in Finland came close to $3 billion in 2016, and Finland’s investment in Russia came to nearly $4 billion, even more if investment made via Finnish companies’ subsidiaries in other countries is counted.

We are carrying out a number of big projects, particularly in the energy sector. They include the Hanhikivi 1 nuclear power station. Preparatory work is fully underway at the site, equipment is being delivered, and the first tranche of our loan, about one billion euros, has been transferred. Let me remind you that the total amount of financing is five billion euros. Half of this will be financed from Russian government resources and half by Rosatom.

We are also working on renewable energy sources. The company Fortum, for example, and our Rusnano are establishing a fund with more than $500 million to develop wind energy.

Companies such as Valio and Nokian Tyres continue to develop their business activities. Our company Biokad plans to organize production of chemical and biological products in Turku. Yandex is launching a data storage center in Finland’s Uusimaa region, and there are other interesting projects too.

During the talks we noted the efficient work of the environmental agencies of both countries. Mr Niinisto has already mentioned our joint work on hazardous waste at the Krasny Bor dump site near St Petersburg. We have just started this work. The renovation of Kaliningrad’s water supply system has been completed. This is a very serious, large step in ensuring environmental safety in the Baltic area in general. We intend to continue expanding our bilateral cooperation in environmental protection.

We highly value that our Finnish partners strive to conduct an independent and balanced foreign policy and consider it to be a major factor of stability in the north of Europe. Naturally, we are ready to continue dialogue with Finland and all interested states on enhancing security in the region.
We still have to discuss the settlement process in Syria. I promised to inform my colleague in detail about it but right now I can say that in our view the main task is to stop the bloodshed once and for all and ensure the necessary conditions for a peaceful political settlement. Then the Syrians should decide, in a broad-based dialogue under the aegis of the UN and on the basis of Security Council Resolution 2254, what kind of country they want to live in.

I shared with the President the particulars of developments related to Ukraine’s domestic crisis.
We continued our exchange of views on the issues I discussed with Mr. Niinisto at the Arctic: Territory of Dialogue forum in Arkhangelsk on March 30. We agreed to build up our cooperation in the region, in particular, considering Finland’s Chairmanship of the Arctic Council. I listened with interest to the President’s ideas on potential ecological cooperation in the Arctic. Needless to say, we can certainly do much in this area if we combine our efforts.

I would like to thank our hosts for their hospitality and cordial reception. I would also like to thank Finnish citizens who met us on our way to this hotel for their friendly and warm attitude. They greeted me with friendly waves. I cannot wave back to each of them but I want to say hello to them through the Finnish media.

Question from Yle (retranslated):

My question concerns the military exercises conducted jointly by China and Russia in the Baltic Sea. I would like to ask President Putin: What message are China and Russia sending to others, what message do they want to send to other countries located in the Baltic Sea region?

My second question is for President Niinisto:

What does Finland think about this? What thoughts come to mind?

Vladimir Putin:

With regard to Russia-China interaction, it is a full-scale and very broad strategic partnership that includes economy, politics, military-technical cooperation, and purely military affairs. We have been regularly conducting military exercises for many years now, and participating in what is called war games and contests for many years now. To reiterate, we do so both on land and at sea.

The cooperation of Russia and the People's Republic of China in its entirety, including the military component, is a critical element of international security and stability. It is not directed against any third country. We are not creating military blocs or military alliances. In this case, our militaries are simply honing their skills, interacting, and this again sets a good example for cooperation in any region of the world, including the Baltics. We respect the neutral status of certain states of the Baltic region. However, we are ready for any form of interaction with the neutral states as well.

We decided to revive the Main Naval Parade, which will be held in St Petersburg soon. Make no mistake, it is not about brandishing arms, but reviving traditions that are more than 100 years old. In fact, such a parade was held earlier, perhaps on a slightly smaller scale, on Russian Navy Day. We invite everyone to come to St Petersburg and enjoy the show. We are ready to invite our partners and countries of the region to participate in this event, and are ready to make it happen as a collaborative effort. Thank you.

Sauli Niinisto:

As far as I understand, and as President Putin mentioned, indeed, this is not the first time such exercises are conducted jointly by Chinese and Russian naval forces, or joint military exercises in general. The Chinese Navy was also in the Mediterranean, and now they are here in the Baltic Sea. Also, as far as I understand, in order to maintain combat readiness and military skills, it is important to conduct exercises in various conditions. Conducting these exercises here in the Baltic Sea does not imply that they are intended precisely for these conditions, it is just that it is important to conduct such exercises in variety of conditions.

Importantly, Finland also conducts such exercises, and takes part in the exercises that take place here in the Baltic region. We will be taking part in major exercises named Aurora off the coast of Sweden. Of course, the Swedish forces will be the main participant, but other states, including the United States, will also take part. The purpose of the Aurora exercises is also not about brandishing arms or forming any blocs against someone, either. But as long as we live in a world with armies and military forces, we must bear in mind that such exercises will be conducted no matter what.

Pavel Minakov, Interfax:

A question for both presidents.

At present we are noticing modest but positive dynamics in the development of bilateral trade, as noted at the news conference. At the same time it is difficult not to see that new and quite serious political risks are being added to the continuing economic risks. This, in turn, is exerting pressure on economic factors. Do you have apprehensions that the modest positive dynamics are threatened by the current situation in the world?

Vladimir Putin:

We live in a complicated, contradictory and very fragile world. The task of the people who do the work we were called upon to do is to avoid these risks, curb and minimize them, and to work on areas and ways of cooperation that would lead us to development, to the consolidation of international relations, the economy and improved living standards for our citizens. This is what our meeting today was about. As for the future, we will have to wait and see. We will respond to emerging problems.

Sauli Niinisto:

Yes, indeed, it is just as you said. There are risks and threatening factors in this world, for instance climate change. We discussed this issue when we reviewed our agenda in the context of our chairmanship of the Arctic Council. In addition, we have rampant migration and these flows are probably partially determined by the first factor mentioned – climate change – and may grow in the future as a result. And, thirdly, there are wars – armed clashes and conflicts that are heating up in many places in this world.

We need an open spirit of global cooperation on all of these issues. I believe in dialogue, and I believe it is possible to find solutions via dialogue.

Matthew Chance, CNN:

First, I have a question for President Putin. President Putin, with these US congressional investigations – and they are thoroughly underway – into allegations of Russian meddling in the US election, and with the possibility of US sanctions being tightened shortly, do you sometimes sit in your office in the Kremlin thinking about how badly US-Russian relations are going and regretting the day that Donald Trump was elected?

Vladimir Putin:

First, as for the election of the President of the United States, this is not our business, and it is not up to us to assess Mr. Trump’s performance in his very high office. This is up to the American people. And the second point.

Remark by CNN:

We also have a question to the Finnish President.

Vladimir Putin:

Wait a second, I have something else to say.

Remark by CNN:

Sorry.

Vladimir Putin:

I was just waiting for the English translation.

As regards the investigations you have mentioned, I do not think it is an investigation, because an investigation would imply considering all the circumstances, examining the causes and hearing from different parties. What we are seeing is merely growing anti-Russian hysteria. Most likely, Russophobic tools are being used for domestic political purposes, in this case the fight between President Trump and his political opponents in the United States.

It is a great pity that Russian-US relations are sacrificed in the course of resolving internal US political issues.

Answering your question on whether I regret the worsening of Russian-US relations, I can answer directly: of course we regret this. It is a shame, because if we worked together, we could resolve the pressing issues that concern both Russia and the United States much more efficiently. I am speaking of solving acute international crises, tackling terrorism, nature conservation, resolving environmental problems, handling illegal migration, fighting organized crime and so on, and contributing to economic development ultimately. But we know we have many friends in the United States, and there are many sober-minded people. I hope that someday the current state of affairs will come to an end and we will move on to a qualitatively different kind of relationship, which we will strengthen and boost in the interests of the people of the United States and the Russian Federation.

Question, CNN:

Yes, we also have a question for the Finnish President. It seems that Finland has to balance between Russia and its US allies, but now a certain split is emerging in the United States. Do you think anti-Russian sanctions should be toughened or do you share the opinion of President Trump and his desire to improve relations with Russia?

Sauli Niinisto:

(In English.) As for balance, I just want to remind you that at this event, an American TV company asked double the questions as others.

(Retranslated.) Yes, Finland is building relations with neighboring countries. We have good, balanced relations with Russia. Finland is also building relations with other countries, the EU, and the United States. This is not about Finland balancing between these powers; this is about a process, an approach that should be used in other parts of the world as well. The point is that we are trying to understand each other.

As regards maintaining relations with Russia, I would like to cite the discussions that took place at the NATO summit in Warsaw last summer. Its participants spoke of the necessity and urgency of dialogue, and as far as I can tell, Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Emmanuel Macron are making such efforts as well, and I think this is very good.

Pavel Zarubin, Rossiya TV channel:

Good afternoon, my name is Pavel Zarubin, Rossiya TV channel. I have a question for both leaders. I would like to continue with the high-profile issue of the new US bill on toughening anti-Russian sanctions. Naturally, this issue is high-profile also because in the last few days and weeks we have been hearing very tough criticism of this bill from many key European politicians and European agencies.

After all, what is happening is that the United States wants to apply its laws to the territories of other countries, EU countries, and to make its bill transnational. Have you discussed this issue? What is your attitude to it? After all, as far as I understand, the independence and economic security interests of other countries are at stake.

And I have a question for the President of Russia. If this bill is adopted, what will be Russia’s response? What will it be like? Are any Russian-US contacts possible on this matter? For instance, a telephone conversation with the US President. Thank you.

Vladimir Putin:

As for the transnational character of US legislation, I have been talking about this for a long time, since 2007 (I think I spoke in Munich about this). It is exactly as I said. This practice is unacceptable – it is destroying international relations and international law. We have never accepted it and will not accept it. As for the reaction of other states of the world, it depends on the extent of their sovereignty and readiness to defend their own national interests.

If the same happens in this case, it will cause particular regret because these actions will have aggravating factors. I would call them particularly cynical because they amount to an obvious attempt to use one’s geopolitical advantages in the competitive struggle in order to protect one’s economic interests at the expense of one’s allies, as in this case.

We have not seen the final version yet and we do not have a final opinion on this matter. But we see that for a long period of time, there have been ongoing attempts to provoke us – many Russian diplomats were expelled with no explanation of the reason and diplomatic property was seized, which is beyond comprehension as it violates fundamental norms of international law regarding diplomatic relations. The sanctions are absolutely illegal from the perspective of international law and they violate the principles of international trade and World Trade Organization rules. As you know, we are being very restrained and patient, but at some point we will have to respond. We cannot tolerate this loutish behavior towards our country forever. But how we respond will depend on the final version of the bill that is being debated in the US Senate.

In any case, we believe that whatever happens in the immediate future, in the long term we will certainly reach some strategic level of cooperation and agreement. I hope that ultimately this is what will happen.

Sauli Niinisto (retranslated):

I do not quite agree with you with respect to imposing sanctions and observing laws. Probably, the rationale behind this is that there are certain assertions and concerns regarding the process of the US election.

And, as you have rightly pointed out, a very heated debate on this matter has begun in the EU. For instance, the President of the European Commission, Mr. Juncker, mentioned this and posed this question. This issue is difficult and sensitive for the EU, and it is necessary to start the discussions between the EU and the United States as the proposed sanctions will have a direct impact not just on Russia but on other countries as well. This is why the EU is intensifying efforts on this matter. I support Mr. Putin in saying that we should try to better understand each other in the world, and I believe this would be in everyone's interests.

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin in Finland. Russian-Finnish talks.

Vladimir Putin and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto held talks as part of the Russian President’s visit to Finland.

Vladimir Putin with President of Finland Sauli Niinisto.
Vladimir Putin with President of Finland Sauli Niinisto.
President of Finland Sauli Niinisto (retranslated):

Mr. President, members of the Russian delegation.

I am honored to welcome you to this landmark place, Punkaharju.

We very much value your decision to come here for the centenary of Finland’s independence. This is a great honor for our country.

Welcome to Finland.

Vladimir Putin arrived in Finland.
Vladimir Putin arrived in Finland.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin:

Thank you very much.

I would like to thank you, Mr. President, for inviting me and my colleagues here.

We are celebrating the centenary of Finland, the centenary of its independence. Also, this year we will mark 25 years of the friendship treaty between Russia and Finland.

The centenary celebrations include a series of cultural and historical events. One of the special and very pleasant events is a performance by Bolshoi Theatre artists in Savonlinna today.

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PHOTO:
Talks with President of Finland Sauli Niinisto.
Talks with President of Finland Sauli Niinisto.
Vladimir Putin at the Russian-Finnish talks in Finland.
Vladimir Putin at the Russian-Finnish talks in Finland.