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TRANSCRIPT: News conference by the President of Russia

[DJ: Video of news conference here: http://eng.kremlin.ru/news/2223 ]

The news conference was broadcast live from the Skolkovo Moscow School of Management by television channels Channel One, Rossiya, Rossiya-24, Russia Today, and Eurovision, as well as by Radio Mayak, Vesti FM and Radio Komsomolskaya Pravda. Live video stream of the news conference was available online on the following websites: www.1tv.ru, www.vesti.ru, RIA Novosti website and Komsomolskaya Pravda television channel. Broadcast in English was available on www.RT.com.

Over 800 journalists were accredited to cover the news conference. Of these, 300 represented television channels, 45 represented radio stations, and 240 journalists were from print and online media outlets; more than 40 photographers were present. About 300 accredited journalists will represent foreign media outlets, nearly 500 were from the Russian media, including 208 journalists from regional organisations.

More than 200 professionals and six mobile satellite TV stations provided technical support.

Simultaneous translation was available in four languages: English, German, French and Japanese.



First of all, I want to welcome you all. We have a lot of journalists today, more than 800 people, so I've been told. I am happy to see such interest in this press conference.

Of course, I cannot complain that I don't get enough chance to meet with the press. I talk with journalists regularly, during my everyday work, and during my visits to the regions too, and these visits were frequent both during my time in the Government, and now, as President.

Actually, there are only two regions in Russia that I have not visited yet, but I will visit them too very soon. I have already met with many journalists from the regions, and I see a few familiar faces here today, which is very nice. But for all this contact with the media, I have never yet held such a big press conference. The whole point of this big event, as I see it, is to exchange views on our country's development and on international life and events.

Once more then, I thank you all for your interest in this event. I am sure that interesting questions await, and I hope my answers will prove of interest too.

I am ready to start work now, so let's begin with the questions.

I'll just say a couple more words about the way things are organised today. I think this is the first ever press conference of this kind that the President is holding on his own, without the Presidential Executive Office's help, and so I ask you not to be offended, but I will simply point my finger and say, "that man or woman in such and such a row", and if I point at you, you just stand up and put your question.

But to get things started, I think it would be proper first to give the floor to our television colleagues. I noticed Sergei Brilyov here. Sergei, I visited you just recently, and we had an interesting conversation...


DMITRY MEDVEDEV: Anyway, let me reply by giving you the floor first today. Go ahead.

SERGEI BRILYOV: Thank you, Mr President.

I wanted to ask you about just how irreversible the modernisation policy is. This press conference is taking place at Skolkovo. We all know now that Skolkovo is the modernisation and innovation centre. It's a good thing, and probably rather symbolic too, that Skolkovo is located beyond the Moscow Ring Road, beyond the 'magic circle', as it were. But Skolkovo also has its boundaries. What I want to know then is how you view the depth of the modernisation process, and its irreversible nature for the country as a whole over the period since your Go, Russia! article came out?

DMITRY MEDVEDEV: I don't think we should look at modernisation within some firmly fixed timeframe. I remember the time when we all counted how one year had passed since perestroika began, and then two years, three years, and we all know what happened in the end.

Modernisation is a process, a very important process, and I think its main goal is to give our country's development a new quality. Modernisation is not just a gradual development process that consolidates the achievements we have already made over this last decade, but is about bringing about quality improvement in the situation.

I know for a fact that we have not achieved this goal yet, but this does not mean that we should now raise some new flag instead and launch a new wave of modernisation or whatever other new campaign. Modernisation continues, and I am confident that the five priorities I outlined will continue to develop as technology-focused but nonetheless very important areas of work.

We have state and government programmes underway in all of these areas, programmes that are being financed and implemented. True, we have not achieved any extraordinary results yet, but this is all the more reason for me and my colleagues in the Government to work even harder, day and night, in order to change our country's life for the better.

I therefore stress the point that modernisation has a huge part to play in our country's development, and its goal is to bring about real change in the situation, rather than providing us with particular dates we can mark. But I am very happy to have the chance to discuss this here at Skolkovo, since this place holds special significance for me, because it is here that we are developing our new technology, here that we have established the Skolkovo university and the school [of management], and here that our innovation centre will be located.

Of course I hope the whole world comes to know this brand, not as the only place where investors should put their money, but because any big development undertaking needs to have its main engines that drive the whole process, and in this sense Skolkovo, though not the only component in the modernisation project, certainly has a very important part to play.

I take this opportunity to thank everyone working here, including for hosting us today. We could have held this press conference at the Kremlin, but I think this is a more interesting venue.

It's hard to choose. Let's take a question from Ksenia Kaminskaya from ITAR-TASS. I will name a few names to start with from among the familiar faces, but don't worry, I won't be giving the floor to people from the Kremlin press pool only.

KSENIA KAMINSKAYA, ITAR-TASS: Thank you all the same for the opportunity.

Mr President, you have replaced a couple of dozen regional governors, but not a single minister. What is the reason for this? Is this a sign that things are worse in the regions than in the federal centre, and that you are really happier with the federal officials' work than with that of the regional officials? Could the Government's or Prime Minister's resignation be on the cards closer to the elections? This has happened in the past after all.

DMITRY MEDVEDEV: Ksenia, I have replaced not just a couple of dozen governors; almost half the corps of regional governors has changed over my time in office so far. New people have come in. Some people stepped down of their own accord, in some cases the decision was mine, and in other cases governors simply came to the end of their mandates and were not appointed for a new term. All of this represents serious changes in the group of people responsible for running our country.

I think this is important because no one can stay in power forever. People who harbour such illusions usually come to a rather bad end, and the world has given us quite a few examples of late. This applies to the regional governors too. You cannot have one and the same person in power for 20 years, even if they are competent, well qualified, and know their region.

Such people are good of course, but we need to open the road to young people too, broaden and develop the human resource pool, and try to nurture a new generation of worthy successors. This policy of appointing new people will continue therefore, and I hope that it will ultimately bring to the fore in the regions modern-thinking people with a real desire to work. Of course, there is never guarantee against mistakes too.

As for the federal government, the absence of new appointments there is not a sign that things are better at the federal level than in the regions, it's just that every decision has its own basis. When we talk about the Government's work, we are taking about the work of a whole team, and not just individual ministers, because the Government is a team and functions as such. You know that I criticise the Government quite often, tell them what I think, what I want, but at the same time, I think the Government operates as a coordinated team, a single body, and so it would not be wise to simply yank out individual links in this overall chain....

(To be continued)


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