Agenda: on keeping one’s mobile number when changing operator; on the construction of the Vostochny Cosmodrome; on federal targeted programme Southern Russia.
There are several issues on our agenda today. First is the communications market and the problem of so-called mobile slavery. In fact, this issue is of current interest, though maybe not for many people. Nevertheless, it is an issue regarding the convenient use of a mobile phone, that is, keeping the number the same when changing the provider, and this could affect almost everyone for various reasons. As you know, the relevant changes were adopted last year, and we worked on this problem. I was asked to deal with it, and we have worked with the providers, who, let’s face it, didn’t show much enthusiasm. This places an additional burden on them, but, nevertheless, they seemed to take note. The new amendments will come into force on 1 December.
Dmitry Medvedev: “On the one hand, this issue is not a problem for everyone, but on the other hand, there are 262 million active SIM cards in Russia. It’s easy to calculate the number of SIM cards per person: two. I don’t think this number is as high in other countries. In Russia, it is related to the mobility of people and the size of the country.”
On the one hand, this issue is not a problem for everyone, but on the other hand, there are 262 million active SIM cards in Russia. It’s easy to calculate the number of SIM cards per person: two. I don’t think this number is as high in other countries. In Russia, it is related to the mobility of people and the size of the country. Subscribers look for the best tariffs and the best quality of services, hence such a large number of SIM cards per person. We have worked on this and faced certain difficulties. Nevertheless, Mr Dvorkovich, how is it going? What is planned next?
Arkady Dvorkovich: Mr Medvedev, colleagues. The new law will come into force on 1 December. Under the law, any current provider must transfer a subscriber’s telephone number to another provider, after receiving a request…
Dmitry Medvedev: Even a “beautiful” number that the customer doesn’t want to change?
Arkady Dvorkovich: Even a “beautiful” number. Basically, a person who has a telephone number, and who wants to transfer to another provider has the right to do so by addressing the new provider and then cancelling the contract with the previous provider …
Dmitry Medvedev: Eliminating the problems.
Arkady Dvorkovich: Eliminating the problems. The only thing is that the customer’s account must be current with the first provider.
Dmitry Medvedev: This is normal.
Arkady Dvorkovich: This is absolutely normal, and this is the obligation of every person. Under the current Government resolution, this transition must be concluded within eight days. This is the minimal and very rigid deadline. We have conducted all the required technical work and tests. Although the providers and the Ministry of Communications and Mass Media and the companies addressing technological issues find various additional difficulties and problems every day, the tests have, nevertheless, been completed. We believe that we can meet this deadline in an overwhelming number of cases. Still, there can be certain problems in such a large country as Russia and in virtually any country, even a small one, during the initial introduction of this complicated service. So we believe a longer deadline can initially be used. It appears that the Big Three and the rather rapidly developing Tele2 operator will, most likely, meet these minimum deadlines.
Dmitry Medvedev: And do we have anyone else?
Arkady Dvorkovich: Tele2 already operates in 43 regions.
Dmitry Medvedev: No, no, I’m talking about others, not these four providers…
Arkady Dvorkovich: “The deputies have submitted a draft law, which has already been adopted, and which stipulates sanctions for the providers that offer these services. Starting 1 March, if this service has not been provided in accordance with the preset deadline, then the provider will have to offer services free of charge, if the relevant telephone number has not been transferred.”
Arkady Dvorkovich: Yes, besides them, there are dozens of providers all over the country. They provide services in various regions, and, of course, they can also experience some problems. At first, they may not be able to meet these deadlines. Therefore we suggest that this service be provided for over three to four months during the initial transitional stage when this new service is being tested. We also hope that people will understand the difficult nature of the transition period, that they will not request the new service en masse during the first few days, and that they’ll see how it works in practice.
Nevertheless, the deputies have submitted a draft law, which has already been adopted, and which stipulates sanctions for the providers that offer these services. Starting 1 March, if this service has not been provided in accordance with the preset deadline, then the provider will have to offer services free of charge, if the relevant telephone number has not been transferred.
Dmitry Medvedev: That’s tough.
Arkady Dvorkovich: This is a tough regulation. We’ll have to see how it goes. Theoretically, other approaches, including the introduction of changes to the Code of Administrative Offences, are possible. Or …
Dmitry Medvedev: Will all services have to be provided free?
Arkady Dvorkovich: Mobile services, or voice messages …
Dmitry Medvedev: Well, everything, including text and voice messages …
Arkady Dvorkovich: Voice and text messages, as well as data transmissions.
Dmitry Medvedev: I believe that, in this case, many people will find it profitable to not have their telephone numbers transferred on time because these services will be provided free of charge.
Arkady Dvorkovich: That’s right. There is only one restriction for individuals who change providers. They can’t do it more than once every six months. So they won’t be able to switch providers every day.
Dmitry Medvedev: I see.
Arkady Dvorkovich: But we should still see how this mechanism works and amend the legislation if necessary.
And one more point – all major operators have confirmed their readiness to provide their services in full. I’m referring to voice calls, text messages…
Dmitry Medvedev: Online services.
Arkady Dvorkovich: Yes, online services, the Internet. As for the services that are rendered by third parties via operators, for instance payments for various things, utilities, and TV, this is being done everywhere. Some of these services…
Dmitry Medvedev: And even money is being transferred.
Arkady Dvorkovich: As for money transfers, I’m not sure. There may be delays with this. Those who are using a full package of services should not rush to change their operators. They should wait for all payments to be completed. Nonetheless, we hope that all operators will offer a full range of services by the end of the first quarter and there will be no mishaps after the testing period.
Dmitry Medvedev: Obviously, this is a fairly difficult technical task. To be more precise, technically it is fairly simple but legally it is more complicated because there are different operators, different legal entities, different subscribers, arrears you mentioned… Let’s hope that this semi-testing period will go smoothly and they will hear your appeals. On the whole, this is a useful thing and I hope it will be fully introduced in the period you’ve mentioned. Operators will cope with this.
Now let’s turn to larger projects – the construction of the Vostochny Cosmodrome. We are building it in the Amur Region. We must have more freedom of action in international, commercial launches. This should improve life in the Far East and upgrade its industrial base.
Dmitry Medvedev: “The project provides for the construction of over 400 facilities and more than 170 km of roads and railways.”
The project provides for the construction of over 400 facilities and more than 170 km of roads and railways. This project has certain deadlines. When first-stage construction is completed, we’ll be able to launch carrier rockets. This will be done in 2015. The second stage will be finished in 2018. At that point we’ll be able to launch manned spacecraft.
Mr Rogozin (addressing Dmitry Rogozin), you are in charge of this issue in the Government and recently visited this place. During your visit you suggested some geographical ideas, for instance, renaming the Far East the Near East. This proposal caused a stir. Not everyone accepted it easily. But this is just talk. What has been done on the Vostochny Cosmodrome?
Dmitry Medvedev: Let’s not rename the Far East. The allusions are not very good.
Dmitry Rogozin: Let’s not rename it the Near East. It will never become the Near East. It will become Russian.
As for the construction work, I regularly visit this site on your instruction. I was there at the end of summer and saw that this project was lagging behind schedule. There were not enough workers at the construction of first-stage facilities. Meanwhile, these facilities should become our first launching pad from which we must launch Soyuz rockets in 2015. The second launching pad will become operational in 2018 and it will involve manned spacecraft. We’ll launch heavy Angaras from it. We tried to find out what was wrong. It appears that the Government and its Military-Industrial Commission received, putting it mildly, incomplete information about the progress of construction. As a result, we made some personnel and institutional decisions.
Our institutional decisions have provided all facilities with the required documents until the end of 2014. All schedules for the supply of technological equipment and a list of priorities have been compiled. The bulk of our workforce is concentrating on this. All in all, there are 5,246 workers, and before their number was much smaller – more than three times smaller. In fact, we have reduced the delay from three months to ten days. We hope that by the end of the year we’ll be working on schedule.
Dmitry Rogozin: “The head of Dalspetsstroy (the agency for special construction in the Far East) was dismissed. We also replaced some top managers in Spetsstroy (Federal Agency for Special Construction) and the Federal Space Agency.”
Some personnel decisions were made as well. The head of Dalspetsstroy (the agency for special construction in the Far East) was dismissed. We also replaced some top managers in Spetsstroy (Federal Agency for Special Construction) and the Federal Space Agency. The people who are now in charge of these projects are quite determined and self-disciplined. They are motivated, and I hope they will do their job properly.
Dmitry Medvedev: Let’s hope that they will have the chance to show their determination. We’ll see.
Dmitry Rogozin: Mr Medvedev, the head of the Federal Space Agency proposed appointing someone to head the cosmodrome in order to have one person responsible for all activities that require coordination, including the construction, equipment supplies, and the activities of our federal space industry enterprises. We will submit our decision for your consideration in the near future. I plan to return to Vostochny Cosmodrome before the end of this year.
We are about to begin the first phase of construction which involves building a whole new urban area. Initially, its population will be 17,000, and then 25,000. The President proposed naming it after Tsiolkovsky. As a matter of fact, such a space-related name is quite appropriate for a city of young professionals. But it’s up to its future residents to decide on the name.
Overall, we are monitoring the situation and are on top of things. I want Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Trutnev, who is also Envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District, to join me on this trip.
Dmitry Medvedev: All right, go have a look.
With regard to another programme in southern Russia, we plan to invest a lot of money there, just like in other regional programmes, so we should focus on the priority issues. It’s imperative that the money reaches the consumers, and that things are done on time. I believe there are several points that deserve special attention including, of course, the construction of new schools, which we’ve discussed on many occasions. Unfortunately, children in many Russian regions have to attend school in three shifts. This is unfortunate, and it affects the quality of education. We criticise it all the time and keep saying that the education process in the Caucasus is a mess. But we should try and ensure normal conditions for education before we slam it. If you teach children in three shifts, it’s unlikely that they’ll learn anything.
The second issue concerns promoting health care, resort areas and various forms of recreation, including forming a medical cluster in the region of the Caucasian Mineral Waters.
Mr Khloponin is in charge of this work. We have talked about incorporating schools and medical institutions into an appropriate programme. How are things going in this area? What solutions do you have in mind, especially given that we still have to hold a meeting of the Commission for the Development of the North Caucasus Federal District before 2013 is over? Please go ahead.
Alexander Khloponin: Mr Medvedev, we identified the final amounts for funding the federal targeted programme South of Russia in 2014-2016 in late September. The total amount of funding for three years stands at 30 billion roubles. In accordance with your instruction, we decided to focus on the priority social issues during these three years. The situation there really demands our attention: 18,000 children attend school in three shifts, including 14,000 children in the Chechen Republic, 1,800 in Dagestan and 1,100 children in Ingushetia. When children are learning in three shifts, there really isn’t any learning going on. So, a large portion of this money under this federal programme – about 15 billion roubles – will go to the construction of new schools, of which 52 schools will be built before 2016. We have inspected all these schools. A commission from the Ministry of Education is working on-site. We sorted out all the issues in cooperation with our university colleagues. We are familiar with all the construction sites where these schools will be built.
Alexander Khloponin: "We identified the final amounts for funding the federal targeted programme South of Russia in 2014-2016 in late September. The total amount of funding for three years stands at 30 billion roubles."
Dmitry Medvedev: Could you please give me that number again?
Alexander Khloponin: In all, there will be 78 schools, of which 52 are new.
Once again, two more schools will be built in Stavropol in addition to that. Another school will be built in the Prigorodny District in Ingushetia and North Ossetia. The situation there is complicated, but we must build a new school there. There’s a school that will be shut down by order of the prosecutors’ office of Kabardino-Balkaria. All these schools are part of the plan, and they will be built.
Mr Medvedev, with regard to healthcare institutions, we took into account all the instructions that you have issued to the government commissions that work on the North Caucasus Federal District. These institutions reside in Karachayevo-Circassia, Kabardino-Balkaria, and Ingushetia. We will build 18 institutions, of which 12 are unfinished projects whose construction will be completed and six new buildings that will be built in accordance with the instructions that you issued to the government commissions. Plus, four perinatal centres will be built in the Stavropol Territory, Karachayevo-Circassia, Dagestan and Kabardino-Balkaria using a portion of the funding provided by the Mandatory Medical Insurance Fund.
This is the main focus of the federal targeted programme. In addition to this, and in accordance with your instructions, we set aside five billion roubles for the development of a medical cluster in the area of the Caucasian Mineral Waters. This will be a major resort area, and a project is now being drafted. The federal targeted programme will be submitted to the Government before the end of this week. We believe that the programme will be discussed and approved during the next Government meeting in December.
Dmitry Medvedev: All right. Go ahead and have this programme drafted. Thank you.