New Year greetings to foreign heads of state and government

Vladimir Putin sent Christmas and New Year greetings to heads of state and government and heads of international organizations.

In his message of greetings to President of the Republic of Abkhazia Raul Khadjimba, Mr. Putin assessed highly the development of bilateral relations in a spirit of alliance and strategic partnership and expressed confidence that the two countries would continue developing bilateral ties in trade and the economy, science and technology, and humanitarian fields, and would work together effectively on guaranteeing regional security and stability.

In his message to President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan, Russian President assessed highly Armenia’s contribution to promoting integration processes in the Eurasian Economic Union, CSTO and CIS. Mr. Putin underscored that the two countries would continue their joint work to step up cooperation in the political, trade and economic, scientific and technological, and humanitarian areas, and coordinate efforts to resolve current international issues.

In his message to President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, Mr. Putin stressed the solid nature of the strategic partnership between the two countries and expressed confidence that they will continue their intensive political dialogue and their active and productive cooperation in various areas, including their efforts to strengthen peace and security in the Trans-Caucasus and Caspian regions.

The President congratulated President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko on Christmas and the New Year. In his message, Mr. Putin noted that despite the complicated international situation, the outgoing year had confirmed the enduring value of Russian-Belarusian friendship and demonstrated the successful resolution of current issues on the bilateral agenda and regarding the Union State’s development. The President also expressed his hope for continued joint work to further develop all areas of partnership between the two countries, advance the mutually advantageous integration process and ensure stability and security in Eurasia.

In his message to President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev, Vladimir Putin reaffirmed his sincere desire to continue developing fruitful bilateral cooperation for the good of the Russian and Kazakhstani peoples and all countries on the continent. The President gave a high assessment of the intensive development of the two countries’ strategic partnership and their work to enhance integration mechanisms within their joint priority project – the Eurasian Economic Union.

In his message to President of Kyrgyzstan Almazbek Atambayev, Russian President noted the progress made in promoting the mutually beneficial integration processes underway in the Eurasian region and expressed confidence that the two countries would continue strengthening their bilateral relations for the good of their friendly peoples and in the interests of guaranteeing security and stability in Central Asia.

In his message to President of Moldova Igor Dodon, Vladimir Putin emphasized the existence of good opportunities in the coming year for working together to strengthen relations between Russia and Moldova in the interests of both fraternal peoples and stability and security in the region.

In his Christmas and New Year message to President of the Republic of South Ossetia Leonid Tibilov, the President assessed highly the work accomplished over 2016 to implement the bilateral treaty on alliance and integration, which has helped to develop bilateral relations and strengthen regional stability and security.

In his message to President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon, Mr. Putin noted that the outgoing year confirmed the solidity of the strategic partnership and alliance between Russia and Tajikistan. The President expressed his confidence that the two countries would continue actively developing their constructive dialogue in all areas for the good of their friendly peoples and in the interests of strengthening stability and security in Central Asia.

Mr. Putin sent his New Year’s wishes to President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov and noted the significant results achieved in developing the strategic partnership between the two countries. The President also expressed his hope for continued efforts to develop the bilateral political dialogue, productive cooperation in various areas, and work together in international affairs.

In his message to President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev, Vladimir Putin noted the expanding constructive political dialogue and bilateral cooperation in various areas and expressed confidence that the two countries would continue strengthening their strategic partnership and close cooperation in the interests of guaranteeing peace, security and stability in Central Asia.

In his letter to President of the Republic of Argentina Mauricio Macri, President Putin said that he looks forward to further progressive development of the Russia-Argentine strategic partnership in 2017 for the benefit of the peoples of the two countries and in the interests of strengthening international stability and security.

In his message to President of the Federative Republic of Brazil Michel Temer, the Russian President warmly recounted a bilateral meeting during the BRICS Summit in Goa and confirmed his commitment to continue meaningful dialogue and constructive collaboration to strengthen the Russian-Brazilian strategic partnership. Vladimir Putin also expressed hope that the President of Brazil will accept his invitation to make a state visit to Russia.

In a message of Christmas, New Year and birthday greetings to Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau, the Russian President expressed confidence that the strengthening of bilateral cooperation and the development of partnership in opening up the Arctic and in other fields meet the interests of the both countries’ people.

In his congratulatory message to President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping on the New Year and the upcoming Spring Festival, Vladimir Putin spoke highly of all-round Russian-Chinese cooperation and strategic partnership, and noted the successful coordination of Russia’s and China’s efforts to address urgent issues on the regional and global agenda. He expressed confidence in the stepped-up dynamism of bilateral cooperation to the benefit of both nations and for stronger international stability and security.

The President of Russia sent greetings to President of the Council of State and Council of Ministers of the Republic of Cuba Raul Castro on the Republic’s national holiday, Liberation Day, as well as Christmas and the New Year. Vladimir Putin noted the steady development of Russian-Cuban relations in the spirit of strategic partnership. Once again, he offered condolences on Fidel Castro’s death and expressed confidence that his comrades and followers will carry on his life’s cause, the creation of a just society, to the benefit of the Cuban people.

In his Christmas and New Year greetings to President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö, Vladimir Putin mentioned the bilateral meetings in Novo-Ogaryovo and Naantali held in the outgoing year, which confirmed the importance of strengthening neighborly Russia-Finland relations and mutually beneficial cooperation in various areas. The President also mentioned that he would be pleased to accept the invitation extended by Sauli Niinistö and visit Finland in 2017 to mark the 100th anniversary of that country’s independence.

In his congratulatory message to President of the French Republic François Hollande, the Russian President mentioned the negative events of the outgoing year such as the unprecedented migration crisis and a significant increase in terrorist activities, and expressed hope that Russia and France will maintain and multiply the positive potential of bilateral cooperation, and will continue constructive cooperation in addressing critical issues on the European and global agenda.

Vladimir Putin sent Christmas and New Year greetings to Federal Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel. In his message, the President emphasized that the outgoing year had confirmed the significance of Russian-German cooperation for resolving pressing regional and international issues and resisting the threats and challenges to global security. The President expressed hope that Russia and Germany will make concerted efforts to preserve and multiply the positive potential of bilateral cooperation built up over decades in various areas in the interests of the two countries and all of Europe.

In his message to Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor Orban, Vladimir Putin noted with satisfaction the positive trends in Russian-Hungarian relations in the outgoing year. The Russian President expressed confidence that the joint efforts of Russia and Hungary will give even more momentum to political dialogue and productive bilateral cooperation for the benefit of the two nations.

In his messages of greetings to President of the Republic of India Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister of the Republic of India Narendra Modi, Russian President noted that the outgoing year was successful for Russian-Indian relations, which have reached the level of specially privileged strategic partnership. Mr. Putin thanked the Indian side for its hospitality when hosting the BRICS Summit in Goa and expressed hope that the 70thanniversary of establishing diplomatic relations between Russia and India will be marked in 2017 with new success in enhancing productive bilateral cooperation in many areas, in particular, in resolving urgent issues on the regional and global agenda.

In his message of greetings to Prime Minister of the State of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu, Vladimir Putin expressed confidence in the successful continuation in 2017 of joint efforts to enhance the entire range of Russian-Israeli relations and constructive cooperation in addressing regional and international issues in the interests of the friendly peoples of the two countries and for ensuring peace, security and stability in the Middle East.

Addressing the President of the Italian Republic Sergio Mattarella, Mr. Putin emphasized that despite uneasy times for Europe and the world, in the outgoing year Russia and Italy maintained constructive bilateral dialogue and cooperated in regional and international affairs. Russian President reaffirmed his invitation to the Italian President to visit Russia for a detailed discussion of current issues on the bilateral agenda and key international issues.

In his message to Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe, the Russian President noted with satisfaction the considerable broadening of Russia-Japan dialogue in 2016. “Constructive talks in Russia, Peru and Japan allowed us to make substantial progress in addressing important issues on the bilateral agenda,” Vladimir Putin pointed out, expressing hope for continued joint work on building a genuine partnership between Russia and Japan.

In his message of greetings to Prince Albert II of Monaco, Vladimir Putin warmly recalled their recent meeting in Moscow on the Days of Monaco in Russia, praised his personal contribution to the development of mutually beneficial cooperation between Russia and Monaco, and expressed hope that bilateral relations will make further progress in the coming year.


Vladimir Putin. Happy New Year 2017.
Vladimir Putin. Happy New Year 2017.

Telephone conversation with Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with President of the Arab Republic of Egypt Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, at Egypt’s initiative.

Mr. el-Sisi expressed his profound condolences to Mr. Putin over the crash of the Russian Tu-154 aircraft.

The two presidents continued their exchange of views on the current situation in the Middle East and North Africa, including possibilities for settling the crises in Syria and Libya.

They also discussed several bilateral cooperation matters, particularly plans for resuming regular flights between Moscow and Cairo in the near future.



Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

Putin had a telephone conversation with Alexis Tsipras

Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with Prime Minister of Greece Alexis Tsipras, at Greece’s initiative.

Mr. Tsipras expressed his profound condolences following the tragic death of Russia’s ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov in a terrorist attack and the crash of a Tu-154 plane in the Black Sea.

The two leaders reviewed bilateral cooperation results for 2016, assessing highly, in particular, the organization of a major project, a cross-cultural year between Russia and Greece. They outlined key areas for further development in bilateral relations, above all in trade and the economy, energy and the humanitarian sector, including the organization of reciprocal tourism years in 2017 and 2018.

A number of international issues, including the situation in Syria and settlement in Cyprus were also discussed.

Mr. Putin and Mr. Tsipras also exchanged New Year’s wishes.



Vladimir Putin telephone conversation with Alexis Tsipras.
Vladimir Putin telephone conversation with Alexis Tsipras.

Vladimir Putin - reception to mark the New Year

Vladimir Putin attended a reception at the Kremlin to mark the New Year holiday.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin:

Good afternoon, friends.

You know the events of these last few days. We therefore decided to change the New Year reception’s traditional format and give it more of a working atmosphere so that we could gather before the New Year in an informal setting to talk about what we have accomplished over this last year and the tasks ahead.

I will also change a little the format of my remarks. Rather than saying the usual words about the outgoing year and the incoming year, I would only like to say that we have worked hard and have produced results, and I want to thank you for this.

I just held a narrow-format meeting with the Security Council, where we talked about the fact that the outgoing year was more difficult for resolving economic and social tasks than 2015. To take just one parameter of importance to us – oil prices – they were at $40. In 2015, they were at $51, and this year at $40. In other words, they were worse, but our results were better than in 2015. We can say with confidence that no one can create difficulties that we would not be capable of overcoming.

But even this is not the most important point. Most important of all is that we know we have the strength to work and to achieve success, and we do this. This is in great part the result of everyone present here today, and of our colleagues, all of whom would not fit in this hall, your subordinates, the regional heads and their teams. This is our common result. Of course, it is the result of our entire people’s efforts.

I propose a toast to Russia and the Russian people. I want to wish all of us and our beloved country and motherland all the very best in 2017.



Vladimir Putin. Reception at the Kremlin to mark the New Year holiday.
Vladimir Putin. Reception at the Kremlin to mark the New Year holiday.
Vladimir Putin. Reception to mark the New Year holiday.
Vladimir Putin. Reception to mark the New Year holiday.
Putin. Reception to mark the New Year holiday.
Putin. Reception to mark the New Year holiday.

Putin met with Minister of Natural Resources and Environment

Organization of events planned for Year of the Environment was the subject of discussion. Mr. Donskoy also briefed Vladimir Putin on work to update subsoil use licensing procedures.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin:

Mr. Donskoy, we have declared next year the Year of the Environment. This is to some extent just a convention, because we cannot devote attention to literature, culture, or the environment for just a year and then forget them. But this convention does give us the chance to focus our attention on the most serious issues and problems. How does your ministry, as the relevant body in this area, plan to organize this work?

Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Sergei Donskoy:

Mr. President, the Government already approved a program of activities for Year of the Environment in the first half of this year. The program includes around 600 events at various levels. We are in the process right now of preparing for these various events. We estimate the total budget for these events at around 350 billion rubles.

The bulk of these funds will come primarily from extra-budgetary sources, because the program includes work to modernize private companies too. The regions, together with investors, will promote initiatives to develop waste management systems. We moved the start of work to implement this reform back a little, but it will start next year and a number of regions are ready now and have already started implementation.

We also have the task next year of adopting the relevant Government decisions on establishing new protected nature reserves and national parks. The necessary preparation work for this was completed this year.

We will also be putting the focus next year on regenerating forests and on water purification. Overall, the work program for the Year of the Environment is divided into eight main sections. They include Lake Baikal, major wildlife projects, returning animals to the wild, and regenerating populations of animals in danger of extinction. The project is ambitious in scale.
Over this time, in order to oversee this work’s implementation, we are signing agreements with the companies so as to have an effective supervisory tool for carrying out these activities and the companies’ plans next year.

Overall, we hope, of course, that everything we have planned for the Year of the Environment will be important and produce effective and large-scale results for all who have an interest in a clean environment and nature.

Vladimir Putin:

I don’t think there is anyone who doesn’t have an interest in this.

Sergei Donskoy:

Yes, that’s absolutely true.

Vladimir Putin:

Good. Is there anything else you wanted to say?

Sergei Donskoy:

Yes, I wanted to brief you on the work we are carrying out on your instruction concerning one-off updating of subsoil resource use licenses.

You gave the instruction in 2015 to carry out this one-off updating. The main task is to bring all licenses currently held by subsoil resource users in line with the laws in force.

Many of the licenses were issued back in 1992 and were not subsequently amended at all. By updating them now, we give them all a common form, for starts, and we are updating too the figures and information contained in the project documentation too. The licenses that have been updated all share a common form now, and the information that needs updating in the project documentation is updated. As at December 1, more than 4,000 licenses – 4,467, to be precise – had been updated, of which 84 percent were for hydrocarbons (2,380 licenses) and 2,087 licenses were for solid minerals. We have thus updated practically 100 percent of all licenses that needed updating.

Let me say that this one-off updating has enabled us to increase the number of obligations set out in the licenses. We have set out in the licenses project obligations for newly prepared projects. The number of obligations the licenses set out has increased by 25–30 percent.

We are seeing another trend too. Previously, subsoil resource users withheld geological information, seeing this as a commercial affair. We accord licenses and subsoil resource use rights to the subsoil resource users, but the resources themselves belong to the state, and so the state authorities should have access to this geological information too.

Companies all want to have their licenses updated, and so they tend to be more willing now to hand over the geological information because if they do not do this, if geological studies are not carried out, or if licenses have payment debts, we do not update the licenses. These were the conditions set in accordance with your instruction.

Overall, the licensing system is becoming more transparent and clear, and investors have an interest in having this kind of license. It is convenient for the state authorities too in terms of inspections and relations in general with the subsoil resource users. We think that the updating process has made it possible to stabilize to some extent the amount of geological investment over this period, taking into account the noticeable current global trend for a decrease in investment in geological exploration.

Let me note that over the last three years now, we have at the very least regeneration of hydrocarbon reserves. Currently, reserves have increased by 575 million tons.

Gas reserves have increased. With production at 572 billion cubic meters, natural gas reserves are expected to increase by 701 billion cubic meters. Coal reserves have also increased considerably, with an increment of 502,000 tons and production at 387,000 tons.

We have an increase in gold deposits of 1,194 tons, with production at 293 tons, in other words, substantially more than the production level. We have an increase in silver deposits of 5,818 tons, with production at 2,440 tons, essentially twice higher than the production volume.

In order to move over to more systematic work now, we are drafting a law on updating licenses. This will no longer be one-off process but a systematic one, setting a timetable for ongoing updating work and thus harmonizing the system of relations between the state authorities and investors.

Vladimir Putin:

Mr. Donskoy, this updating work has turned out essential, it seems. It amounts practically to renewing licenses.

Sergei Donskoy:

In some cases, licenses are subject to renewal, and in other cases we simply formalize obligations that were not in the license previously. In 1992, some licenses did not even contain obligations to carry out work.

Vladimir Putin:

Yes, this must all be brought up to date, and it is important that the subsoil resource users understand that this situation could not last indefinitely. If they obtained licenses, they need to work, invest the resources and organize production. If they are not doing this, unfortunately, we will need to revoke their licenses. I think that this will tighten discipline for those who choose to stay and genuinely work.

Sergei Donskoy:

Mr. President, let me add that we have already revoked more than 140 licenses during this updating process, precisely in cases where companies were not respecting the conditions and it was clear that no updating effort would be of help.

Plus, we have not updated all licenses in the situations I mentioned. In cases when work is not being carried out, for example, and when geological information is not handed over – and if work is not being carried out, then there is no way of handing over geological information. The same goes for cases where there are tax and payments debts, in this situation too we do not update the licenses.

This means that as the one-off updating effort ends now, those of our colleagues who did not get their licenses updated in time will work under a system in which [federal environmental regulator] Rosprirodnadzor will visit them and from there, if they do not take action to get work underway, then, as you say, their licenses will be automatically revoked.




Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Sergei Donskoy.
Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Sergei Donskoy.
Vladimir Putin meet with Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Sergei Donskoy.
Vladimir Putin meet with Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Sergei Donskoy.
Putin at the meeting with Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Sergei Donskoy.
Putin at the meeting with Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Sergei Donskoy.

Meeting with Berl Lazar and Alexander Boroda.

Vladimir Putin met with Chief Rabbi of Russia Berl Lazar and President of the Federation of Jewish Communities Alexander Boroda and congratulated Russia’s Jewish community on Hanukkah.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin:

I want to take this opportunity to congratulate you and all Russian Jews on Hanukkah and wish all the very best to you, your families, your faith, and all Jews throughout Russia. I wish you all the very best in the New Year. I am sure, and we all hope, that it will be a happy and prosperous year.
I know you do much to develop relations with other faiths and you are in constant contact on these matters. You do a lot of work within the faith too. The result is very positive development, with new synagogues and religious and cultural centers opening. I am very grateful to you for this work and I hope we will continue our cooperation.

Chief Rabbi of Russia Berl Lazar:

Thank you.

Let me start by expressing our condolences over the tragedy in the Black Sea. I say this on my own behalf and on behalf of our people. This is truly a great sorrow for us. We sense how this grief unites people. It is at moments like this that we realize just how important it is to come together. When we are under pressure or traversing difficulties, we nonetheless hope and believe that God will help. With God’s help, all problems can be solved.

Thank you for your assessment of our work. I want to thank you for the attention you give these matters, which we think are indeed very important – issues such as the rights of believers, reviving the traditional religion, and relations between the different faiths.

In this respect, our community tries to do what it can. We opened the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Centre, with your help too. You perhaps heard that the museum recently received a UNESCO prize. The work that we have done over these last years has received recognition, thanks be to God. Most important is that they see in us an instrument for going the right way about teaching a tolerant attitude to and relations with religious faiths and ethnic communities in Europe and throughout the world. Mr. Boroda has done much work in this area. We are very grateful to him for taking on this important work.

I would like to discuss with you how useful we can be here in Russia, whether we can do more, perhaps by opening tolerance centers in other cities too.

An idea that we discussed with the Patriarch, and which would be very good, would be to hold an international interfaith forum, because Russia’s experience in interfaith relations is really quite unique.

The congress of European rabbis took place in Moscow recently. The rabbis saw what is happening here, saw the relations, the atmosphere, saw how at ease Jewish people feel here. They said, “Sadly, it is no longer this way in Europe, and we do not even know what to expect tomorrow.” We need to show them our experience, I think, including the fact that we really do live together in peace, friendship and mutual understanding. It is very important that the whole world sees this. Probably, we can show them how to develop further.

This is our biggest task – to live in such a way that all peoples around us will live in peace and friendship. After all, the prime task of any religion is to love and respect others. I think that Russia today is a country that genuinely values religious communities’ work and where there is clear understanding of the contribution this work makes and the results it produces. We are very grateful to you for this.


Putin with Chief Rabbi of Russia Berl Lazar and President of the Federation of Jewish Communities Alexander Boroda.
President of the Federation of Jewish Communities Alexander Boroda.
Chief Rabbi of Russia Berl Lazar.

State Council meeting on Russia environmental development

Vladimir Putin chaired State Council meeting on environmental development of the Russian Federation in the interests of future generations at the Kremlin.

Excerpts from transcript of the State Council meeting.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin:

Colleagues, good afternoon,

Our agenda today includes the challenge of Russia’s gradual transition to a sustainable development model, not simply sustainable development, but environmentally sustainable development. I want to stress that we are discussing economic development, but with a focus on environmental issues.

This issue is crucial, above all, to improving the efficiency of the national economy, on the one hand, and at the same time to improving the quality of life for our people, and achieving the potential of our regions, on the other.

I will remind you that 2017 has been declared the Year of the Environment, and environmental protection has been included in the recently approved National Science and Technology Development Strategy as a priority.

It is clear that this policy is for the long term – for the next 20, 30 years or more. But, unless we start moving, we will go in circles forever complaining that we do not have enough money to address the current issues, and we will never get around to strategic issues. We cannot delay this any longer.

I also want to emphasize that Russia’s huge, no exaggeration, huge resource potential, is of truly planetary significance. Our country has huge reserves of fresh water and forests, and great biodiversity; it serves as an ecological donor for the world, providing it with nearly 10 percent of its biosphere sustainability.

Back in the early 20th century, Vladimir Vernadsky warned that the time would come when people would have to assume responsibility for human, as well as environmental development. There is no doubt that this time has come. Humanity already owes an enormous debt to the environment and continues to test its limits, which is affecting people. Although I would rather not speak about it, I feel compelled to say that outdoor and indoor air pollution claims the lives of 7 to 8 million people every year. These are ominous and alarming figures. This has a direct bearing on our country. In a number of areas, the environmental stress has reached a critical point. This costs our economy up to 6 percent of GDP every year, or up to 15 percent if we factor in the health costs.

I would like to highlight some of the most urgent environmental issues that need to be addressed as a matter of priority. Achieving drastic reductions in emissions of hazardous substances into the air, water and soil is a major issue. This can be done by reequipping industry and implementing the best available technology. A number of big corporations have already launched environment protection programs. However, we are also aware of the fact that not all companies pay due regard to these issues.

Of course, as I said in the beginning, this requires investment, but we have to understand that eco-friendly technology is not only a priority but also brings about tangible economic benefits. I expect the business community to heed my words: the implementation of this technology should not be delayed. We can no long afford to put these issues on the back burner. It was decided to roll back some initiatives, as I will explain later, but there will be no further adjustments. Let me add that implementing the best available technology can serve Russian companies and the economy in general as a powerful incentive for boosting performance and competitiveness.

I would like to call on the ministries and agencies in charge of issuing norms and regulations regarding such technology: you need to ensure that they are being issued in a timely manner and taking into account that companies need a reasonable timeframe for implementing them, which means that norms and regulations should be issued well in advance. Let me reiterate that it is impossible to keep putting this issue on the back burner.

The situation with hazardous emissions remains critical. Half of the city population breathes highly polluted air. Vehicles, both personal and public, contribute 50 to 90 percent. A significant part of open water is classified as polluted or extremely polluted. Seven percent of residents have no access to quality drinking water. Soil condition is worsening in nearly all regions. If we continue to limit the solution to half-measures and priorities other objectives, the emissions and greenhouse gases will reach a critical level by 2050. We understand very well what this means. This means that we will leave the future generations an environment unfit for living. Therefore, we must reduce pollution and emissions by at least 50 percent.

Environmental education and awareness is an important area for improvement. So far, the term “environmental education” has not been fixed by law. Environmental pollution data is scarce and disappears in various agencies while summary estimates of air pollution are calculated for major cities of only 12 Russian regions. These obstacles make the nationwide environmental monitoring difficult, to say nothing about long-term forecasts. I would like to hear today what you think should be done to change the situation.

Another important task is treatment of industrial and consumer waste, which now totals over 30 billion tons. Rubbish is disposed without any order and landfills take up almost 48,000 hectares. As you know, strict rules for the disposal and treatment of household waste have been introduced by law; however, the effective date has been postponed. I would like to hear about drafting of necessary documents and what has been done for the public to learn more about this innovation.

I would like the speakers to pay special attention to processing high-risk waste.

Furthermore, and this is always mentioned in various statements on this subject and in this year’s Address [to the Federal Assembly] too, individuals and public organizations should be actively involved in social projects, including the resolution of environmental issues. As I have said, officials should not hide from people in their offices. Obviously, the public wants and has the right to take part in environmental, educational and other specific actions aimed at improving the quality of their lives and upgrading their courtyards, parks and squares. I am simply convinced that confidence in public initiatives, as well as dialogue and partnership with public organizations are very important for developing a high-level environmental culture in the country.

I would like to ask Mr. Ivanov, chairman of the Organizing Committee for the Year of the Environment in Russia, to take responsibility for environmental projects with the participation of volunteers, including those from the Russian Geographical Society (RGS) and other associations.

Colleagues, I have mentioned only some of the many questions that require our attention. I believe they will be discussed in other reports and speeches. I am referring to such issues as energy saving, and the preservation of forests, water, unique natural sites and rare flora and fauna species. It is also necessary to carry out energy saving and ecological recovery programs at national sites like the Volga River, Lake Baikal, and Lake Teletskoye in Altai.

I would like to ask the speakers to focus on measures and proposals to improve the situation, which we can and must implement in the near future.

Mr. Dubrovsky, please.

Chelyabinsk Region Governor Boris Dubrovsky:

Mr. President, colleagues,

The central issue of the State Council meeting, Russia’s environmental development in the interests of future generations, has stirred great interest among scientists and experts, as well as a wide range of other professionals. In preparation for the report, we analyzed the impact of global environmental issues on Russia’s development and listed some domestic environmental challenges. The report justifies transition to eco-friendly sustainable development as a national strategic priority.

The wellbeing of the present and future generations can only be ensured by efficient use of natural resources. The idea itself is not new, as Mr. President noted in his speech, and originates from Russia. It was our great fellow countryman, scientist Vladimir Vernadsky, who introduced the term “sustainable development” almost one hundred years ago. The concept is clear and simple: humanity cannot exist in opposition to nature since it is an integral part of nature. We also have to honestly admit that neither today nor in the foreseeable future we will be able to do without natural resources. But we must clearly understand the ways to measure our natural capital. The entire world is looking for a new scale for these measurements. I believe Russia must get ahead of the rest of the world in this task.

Since Adam Smith, natural resources have been assessed in terms of their degree of involvement in economy. Even aware of environmental limits of growth, we continue to rate development levels through standard indicators. One of these key indicators is GDP growth, which basically only shows the rate at which natural capital is converted into physical capital, without consideration for the social and environmental impact. This impact can be negative. I think it would be appropriate to compare this to double-entry bookkeeping, which has been in use since the 15th century. We can apply it to our topic in the following way: humankind has natural capital, or liabilities, and human capital, or assets. Our goal is to turn liabilities into assets with minimal losses, that is, to use natural resources to increase human capital.

In our report, we have substantiated the need to add other quantitative indicators beside gross domestic product to reflect sustainable development. We will need to form a system of national accounts to evaluate the state of the environment and the cost of environmental benefits. This should be taken into account in strategic planning documents and should allow us to really manage the processes. We believe this planning system will enhance Russia's role in addressing global environmental issues, as you, Mr. President, said in your speech.

Colleagues, while working on the report, we found it useful to rise to the academic level, because large things are best seen from a distance. This has helped us to focus systematically on specific issues that are of concern to most people today, starting with the most relevant ones: the quality of air and drinking water, household waste disposal, mitigation of environmental damage, and preservation of the existing natural landscapes.

Article 42 of the Russian Constitution enshrines the right to a healthy environment, reliable information about its condition, and compensation for the damage done to one’s health or property by environmental violations.

As we see it, there are three main components, and each requires hard work. The authors of the report have proposed a package of solutions for attaining this complex goal in the medium and long term. It includes amendments to existing legislation regulating natural resources and environmental protection; a multi-level system of incentives; building clean industry – also through using special marketing tools; a set of measures for the development of renewable energy sources; new requirements for environmental education; and effective mechanisms for interacting with civil society. The proposals include large-scale and largely interrelated efforts, which cannot fit in the so-called simple solutions.

The algorithm of implementing the suggested measures has been presented in detail in the report. I will briefly touch on the key issues.

First is the need to control air quality. No tangible reduction in air pollution in industrial cities has been recorded since 2000. This indicates that we have exhausted the potential of the current model of controlling ambient air and must look for other approaches.

Such tools exist and here they are. It has been suggested that we need to estimate the combined influence of all pollutants in a city, conduct a summary assessment of maximum acceptable emissions and, based on this, determine the allowable contribution of each pollutant in the standard quality of air in a given residential area. Companies will proceed from this contribution or quota in drafting specific programs and making technical solutions. The goal is to reduce the rates of air pollution in the cities.

It is also necessary to determine traffic quotas at the same time. Municipal and regional authorities will be responsible for tracking this. They need to determine the tools to influence this, including, first of all, ways to develop public transport, transition to environmentally safe vehicles, and modern city-planning solutions for regulating traffic.

It is easy to determine the efficiency of such air control methods by measuring the reduction in the concentration of harmful substances in the air in residential neighborhoods. The existing Roshydromet (Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring) and Rospotrebnadzor (Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing) monitoring systems will provide the necessary data for managerial decisions. The extent of meeting the public demand for fresh air will be the main indicator of the efficiency of these joint efforts and hence, may be considered a sign of steady development.

The report suggests using all these tools. I will list them again: combined pollution assessment, pollutant concentration quotas, and monitoring of air in residential neighborhoods as the foundation for managerial decisions on legislative and regulatory acts. This will allow us to face the authorities and industrial enterprises with very practical objectives. I suggest choosing pilot regions for testing these measures and will say outright that the Chelyabinsk Region is ready to pioneer this. We hope this will give new impetus to our development.

In our experience, we often come across growing public and environmental risks as part of major investment projects. We believe a complex environmental impact estimate for such projects at the initial stage of their implementation would allow us to balance business and public interests. Clear and transparent mechanisms of state environmental review should make the process easier.

The next problem is the shrinking land that is supposed to provide for the needs of the current and future generations. Already a third of the planet’s fertile soil has been lost. In Russia its share is 7 percent. But we all realize that this is not an excuse for remaining idle. The process of soil loss is accelerating, and an increasing amount of land is being used for non-cultivating purposes, for manufacturing but also industrial waste and dumping.

As you said, Mr. President, the uncontrolled use of (1st and 2nd class) hazardous waste, which can be tantamount to chemical weapons, is particularly alarming. Its disposal should be regulated by special human safety requirements and for preventing possible terrorist threats. We believe high-tech transport control mechanisms and the best recycling technologies should be introduced in this area as a priority. I hope Mr. Donskoy will highlight this subject in more detail.

Let me touch upon household waste briefly, as it cannot be put off any longer. The regions are prepared for the new waste disposal system to various degrees.

The regions are facing this problem to different extents. The adopted decision to let the regional authorities decide on when to introduce the new system within a certain transition period meets the interests of the green economy and is fairly realistic. People must be prepared to use this system, and it is up to the local authorities to get them ready.

Another extremely important issue, in our opinion, is environmental education. It is important to build a firm attitude to nature in every Russian citizen so that the public understands how their everyday behavior can affect the environment. Insufficient environmental literacy, inability to give an objective assessment to relevant information facilitates environmental skepticism and, therefore, denial of any progress. We have seen that. When this happens, many of our fellow citizens lose the ability to judge environmentally significant data from various sources.

Environment is, above all, knowledge. We believe that our education system must provide this knowledge as a fundamental rather than secondary subject. Environmentally friendly behavior must be instilled by all education programs, starting from kindergarten. Only then will it be common to realize one’s personal responsibility for the future where humankind, which has become a geological force, can continue to progress with confidence.

Colleagues, in my speech I briefly and sometimes emotionally outlined the results of the six months of work. I hope that my team managed to articulate the principles that will help us ensure the sustainable development of Russia for the benefit of present and future generations. In this regard, I cannot help but quote Vladimir Vernadsky who, almost a hundred years ago when people only started paying the price for industrialization, wrote: “A tremendous future is unfolding for humanity if people can understand that and do not use their intelligence and labor for self-eradication.”

I sincerely hope that we will enter the Year of the Environment with a common understanding of the tasks and approaches to them in order to accomplish our goals together.

In conclusion, I would like to thank all the working group members for their contribution here. And Happy New Year! I wish you good health, prosperity and peace!

Thank you very much.

Vladimir Putin:

Thank you.

Mr. Donskoy will continue. Please go ahead.

Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Minister Sergei Donskoy:

Mr. President, colleagues,

I would like to begin with the results of a recent nationwide poll conducted by VCIOM Public Opinion Research Centre, in which almost 45 percent of respondents believe that waste is a major threat to the environment, so I'll start with that.

Two years ago, a law aimed at resolving this issue was passed. It provides several key mechanisms. The first is requiring each region to create a transparent system for solid municipal waste management. To this end, the regions need to approve territorial waste treatment arrangements. This document provides a method for the objective assessment of the accumulated amounts of waste and waste traffic management. Under the law, the regional authorities have to select a regional operator on a competitive basis.

We realize that the regions are in varying degrees of readiness, and their transition to a new system is only possible with the full support of the federal government. As an example, I will cite the preparatory process for regional territorial plans. These documents have been agreed upon with Rosprirodnadzor [Federal Service for Supervision of Natural Resources] in 82 regions, and 69 have approved them. These results are due to the fact that Rosprirodnadzor has been working with each region individually literally on a daily basis.

The next step includes choosing regional operators and setting rates. The regions should do this with the targeted support and control of our colleagues from the relevant federal agencies and ministries.

It was decided to move to a new regulatory system in phases, but, of course, we are not putting this issue on the back burner. First, 12 regions have confirmed their willingness to work under a new system of regulations beginning in 2017, and they need our support. The second key mechanism of the adopted law has become operational in full. Today, manufacturers and importers must dispose of the items that have lost their consumer properties on their own, or pay an environmental fee to the state. In 2017, we plan to collect over 6 billion rubles in environmental fees, and these funds will be used as subsidies for the pilot regions.

We also plan to gradually enlarge the categories of goods subject to recycling (at present there are only eight) and set higher recycling standards. This will generate considerable amounts of money: 300 billion rubles. These funds will be used to subsidies household solid waste disposal programs at the regional level.

Obviously, these measures will be successful only if the required waste processing facilities are created. The first step in this direction will be the launch next year of five pilot recycling plant construction projects. In order to make waste recycling environmentally friendly, it is necessary to ensure waste separation and sorting, and we believe that this is an area that small and medium-sized businesses should move into.

Unfortunately, at present, in addition to reforming the waste disposal management system, we have to deal with the backlog of problems in this area. To bar illegal waste disposal practices, we have streamlined the licensing system down the entire waste circulation chain. A total of 12,000 licenses have been issued and license oversight is ensured. There are also plans to introduce additional automated waste transport control systems regardless of hazard categories, including the use of the GLONASS system. Together with NGOs, in 2017, we will put into operation a public information system to identify and monitor the elimination of dumpsites – a kind of public control system.

Now regarding accumulated industrial waste. Over the past four years, we have removed 4 million tons of waste in Russia’s Arctic zone, Siberia, Far East, Caucasus and Volga region, as well as the Baikal nature reserve. However, we understand that considering its scale, the problem requires a systemic solution. We have adopted a corresponding law that provides for the introduction of a new system: the identification of such sites and their categorization in terms of environmental risk. As a result, next year we will expand the scope of operations, with another 25 polluted territories in 20 regions slated for clean-up.

The aggregate volume of budgetary funding for these projects will exceed 7 billion rubles through 2019. However, budgetary funds alone are not enough. It is necessary to incentivize private investors to undertake such projects. This may include exemptions in providing tracts of land cleared of dumpsites and landfills, as well as the implementation of such projects in lieu of reimbursing the damage caused to the environment.

We believe that the implementation of all of the aforementioned measures will make it possible to significantly improve recycling standards. At present, the level of solid household waste recycling is 8 percent. By 2025, it will amount to 40 percent. Naturally, this will also prevent illegal dumps from popping up.

I am now moving to the second area of the environmental protection reform, namely technological regulation through the law on the best available technology. This is a comprehensive law aimed at improving environmental oversight and control, ecological assessment and ecological norm setting and encouraging environmental activities. Each of those elements is to be implemented stage by stage over a period from 2015 to 2025 with the planning horizon stretching as far as 2035.

For the implementation of the first, the most crucial stage, it is necessary to single out 300 enterprises in the first environmental risk category, which account for up to 60 percent of the negative impact on environmental components. Those enterprises will have three years, beginning in 2018, to carry out modernization programs. The remaining facilities in the first environmental risk category are to switch to the new system by 2025. For that, a state database of enterprises is being created. Those of them that pose the highest risk in terms of pollution are being singled out and equipped with automated control. A system of ecological assessment for the construction and reconstruction of such facilities is also being introduced. As a result, data on overall emissions, waste dumping and waste disposal volumes will be available to the general public.

In 2017, to ensure a transition to the best available technology, all necessary reference books for various economic branches will be completed. By now, half of such reference books have been approved. There are 24 reference books.

To make those measures more efficient and simpler to implement, we consider it necessary to envisage equipping enterprises stage by stage with automated emission control devices and issue comprehensive ecological permissions for new enterprises prior to their construction. And we suggest moving the state environmental review of investment projects to the stage at which locations for future industrial enterprises are chosen.

At the same time, we are aware of the fact that the implementation of this large-scale task will require considerable investments – around 1.5 percent of the GDP according to preliminary estimates. Therefore, the law envisages various privileges and economic incentives. In addition, the Russian Foundation for Technological Development will allocate funds from the federal budget to support the development of enterprises introducing the best available technology. For enterprises that fail to introduce the best available technology, the fee for emissions and waste dumping exceeding the required norms will be increased fourfold.

The efficiency of this mechanism has been proven within the framework of the experience introduced in 2013 of regulating responsibility for burning petroleum gas at flare facilities. The use of this mechanism has made it possible to raise petroleum gas recycling from 77 percent in 2012 to 90 percent this year. Total investments exceed 200 billion rubles.

I would like to point out that, despite the fact that the core mechanisms for implementing the best practices will become effective only in 2019, many large enterprises are already involved in this work. In particular, together with Rosprirodnadzor, we signed 55 agreements with the companies, and the expected volume of environmental investments will exceed 130 billion rubles.

In addition, for the purposes of sewage water treatment, the Ministry provides support for implementing 59 investment projects to build and upgrade sewage treatment plants, with a total private investment of over 125 billion rubles. Once completed, the volume of polluted wastewater discharged into water bodies will decrease by almost 2 cubic kilometers per year.

Over the long term, the transition to the best practices will ensure not only an increase in the quality of life, but will also stimulate the machine-building industry to manufacture the latest equipment, and set the vector for import replacement and localization of manufacturing facilities, which will ultimately improve the competitiveness of the Russian economy.

Now, with regard to the conservation of nature sites. The system of protected areas and biodiversity conservation are the most effective means of wildlife conservation for future generations. So, our primary goal here is to expand the area of protected nature sites, taking into account the level of social and economic development of the regions where they are located. Over the past four years, we have increased the area of ​​protected areas by 14 percent to over 62 million hectares. We will not stop at that, and plan to create 10 more protected sites next year.

In today's world, specially protected nature sites are actively becoming incorporated into ecotourism. Potentially, our parks and reserves can handle about 20 million visitors a year, but the current infrastructure limits this number to 2 million. The state funds are not enough to create the necessary infrastructure, so next year we propose introducing a mechanism to attract private funds to create such infrastructure, including through concession agreements. These mechanisms will allow us to start implementing pilot projects to promote ecotourism in the Baikal nature area, the Altai Mountains and the Caucasus in 2018, and to triple the number of tourists to our national parks by 2025.

Targeted programs are being implemented with regard to all endangered species, such as the Amur tiger, the Persian and Far Eastern leopard, polar bears, bison, and Przewalski's horse, in order to stabilize and increase their population. We plan to launch more rare animal programs, in particular, for the argali, snow leopard and saiga antelope. Next year, we will, of course, continue to work towards expanding the list of such programs, including those with the participation of businesses.

In closing, I would like to provide one more result from the VCIOM poll, which I began with. Responding to a question about the factors positively influencing the environment, our citizens put state environmental supervision in the first place, followed by punishing violators of environmental legislation. Since the majority of regional leaders are present here today, I want to ask you, especially considering our plans for the Year of the Environment, to be responsive to the public request and proceed from the inevitability of punishment for violations of environmental law. I would ask you to consider our plans for the Year of the Environment specifically in this manner.

Thank you.


Vladimir Putin:

In closing, I would like to say the following.

The subject that we are discussing today is not simply politically expedient and fashionable. It is truly extremely important, both for people’s health and the nation’s economic development.

Yes, investing in modern equipment that ensures high environmental standards always means a lot of spending at the initial stage, but you know well that the introduction of environmentally clean modern equipment should eventually enhance labor productivity, because this is modern high-tech equipment, and this represents the main trends in the development of our industry and economy.

In this context I would like to note the responsibility of the state and the business community. It would be wrong if the decisions required for moving down the road we are discussing today depended on people who drink clean water and live in a good environment, while large teams of workers and everything around them exists and moves around in terrible ecological conditions. This is absolutely inadmissible. I would like to draw the attention of representatives of the business community, as well as regional and federal authorities to this fact.

Needless to say, we should act with extreme caution so as not to destroy the economy, not to act like an elephant in a china shop, not to demand the impossible. All decisions must be thoroughly considered and adopted in a timely matter. We must move along this road not in fits and starts, but steadily. If we do not do this, we will get what I mentioned at the beginning of my opening remarks: by the 2050 we will have to deal with consequences that will be hard or impossible in some places to reverse.

I would like to motivate you and all of us to take part in this joint work that is extremely important for our country. Thank you very much for attending today’s meeting. I am grateful for the efforts of the working group to prepare it.

Thank you very much.



Tula Region Governor Alexei Dyumin (left) and Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the North Caucasus Federal District Oleg Belaventsev before a State Council meeting on Russia’s environmental development for future generations.
Moscow Region Governor Andrei Vorobyov at a State Council meeting on Russia’s environmental development for future generations.
Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Anton Vaino and Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko at a State Council meeting on Russia’s environmental development for future generations.
Presidential Aide Igor Levitin, State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin and Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov before a State Council meeting on Russia’s environmental development for future generations.
Before a State Council meeting on Russia’s environmental development for future generations.
Before a State Council meeting on Russia’s environmental development for future generations.
State Council meeting on Russia’s environmental development for future generations.
Special Presidential Representative for Environmental Protection, Ecology and Transport Sergei Ivanov at a State Council meeting on Russia’s environmental development for future generations.
State Council meeting on Russia’s environmental development for future generations.
State Council meeting on Russia’s environmental development for future generations.
State Council meeting on Russia’s environmental development for future generations.
Putin at State Council meeting on Russia’s environmental development for future generations.
Liberal Democratic Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky (left) and Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov at a State Council meeting on Russia’s environmental development for future generations.
Deputy Prime Minister and Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District Yury Trutnev at a State Council meeting on Russia’s environmental development for future generations.

Krasnodar Territory - Crimea main gas pipeline launched.

Vladimir Putin launched gas supply to the Crimean Peninsula via the Krasnodar Territory-Crimea main gas pipeline, during a videoconference.

Vladimir Putin launched gas supply to the Crimean Peninsula via the Krasnodar Territory-Crimea main gas pipeline, during a videoconference. Other participants in the videoconference included Head of Crimea Sergei Aksyonov (left) and Acting Governor of Sevastopol Dmitry Ovsyannikov.

Participants in the videoconference included Head of Crimea Sergei Aksyonov and Acting Governor of Sevastopol Dmitry Ovsyannikov.

Chernomorneftegaz Director General Igor Shabanov and dispatcher Sergei Krulikovsky reported that the system is ready for launch.

* * *

President of Russia Vladimir Putin:

Good afternoon, colleagues. Can you see and hear us well?

Chernomorneftegaz Director General Igor Shabanov:

Very well.

Vladimir Putin:

My congratulations to you and everybody who is there at the site which I hope will be symbolic for a long time – that is, symbolic for all the aspects of energy supply to Crimea. Congratulations to Crimean residents, construction workers and everybody who has been involved in such a momentous and essential project for the entire country and the Crimean Peninsula.

This is another significant step in the long-term development of Crimea. Supply of the Russian gas to the peninsula via the main pipeline will create a completely different environment for the whole economy sector, recreational industry and social sphere in Crimea and Sevastopol.



Vladimir Putin gave start to supply of gas to the Crimean peninsula.
Vladimir Putin gave start to supply of gas to the Crimean peninsula on a new trunk gas pipeline Krasnodar Krai – the Crimea.
Vladimir Putin launched gas supply to the Crimean Peninsula via the Krasnodar Territory-Crimea main gas pipeline. Acting Governor of Sevastopol Dmitry Ovsyannikov also participated in the videoconference.
Vladimir Putin launched gas supply to the Crimean Peninsula via the Krasnodar Territory-Crimea main gas pipeline. Head of Crimea Sergei Aksyonov also participated in the videoconference.
Vladimir Putin launched gas supply to the Crimean Peninsula via the Krasnodar Territory-Crimea main gas pipeline.
Vladimir Putin launched gas supply to the Crimean Peninsula via the Krasnodar Territory-Crimea main gas pipeline, during a videoconference. Other participants in the videoconference included Head of Crimea Sergei Aksyonov (left) and Acting Governor of Sevastopol Dmitry Ovsyannikov.
Vladimir Putin launched gas supply to the Crimean Peninsula via the Krasnodar Territory-Crimea main gas pipeline. Acting Governor of Sevastopol Dmitry Ovsyannikov also participated in the videoconference.

Putin congratulated Emergencies Ministry staff

Vladimir Putin congratulated the staff and veterans of the Ministry of Civil Defense, Emergencies and Disaster Relief on their professional holiday.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin:


I am happy to congratulate the staff and veterans of the Emergencies Ministry on your professional holiday, Rescue Worker’s Day.

You have earned respect and prestige in Russian society and many other countries where you fulfilled your duties diligently and efficiently.

You are the first to come to the rescue in the event of disasters and emergencies, standing up against the elements, helping those who are in trouble amid armed conflicts and saving lives, and doing all of this with courage and valor.

Aware of your towering responsibilities, you work precisely and selflessly as a team, doing your professional and human duty.

We are grateful to you for your difficult and very important work.
Our special thanks go to the veterans, who stood at the origins of the Emergencies Ministry and helped create its fine traditions.

I hope that your ministry will continue to develop dynamically, improving the system of preventing and promptly responding to emergencies, introducing cutting-edge equipment and improving the system of training professionals for the ministry.

For its part, the state will continue to give you all the necessary support.

I again wholeheartedly congratulate you on your professional holiday and on the coming New Year. I wish success, good health and all the best to you and your families.



Vladimir Putin photo
Vladimir Putin. Russian President.