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Aisen Nikolaev: Together we can withstand any tests

The difficult forest fire situation in the summer of 2021 in Yakutia did not affect the implementation of current plans and the expansion of development prospects.

In an interview with EastRussia on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum, the head of the Republic, Aisen Nikolaev, spoke about the current situation in the Republic and the priorities of activity.

Aisen Nikolaev: Together we can withstand any tests
Photo: Valentina Pevtsova, Roscongress

- Aisen Sergeevich, what lessons did the situation with forest fires in the Republic make? What should be done first?

Measures and solutions must be comprehensive. First of all, it is required to strengthen the fire-fighting group in the republic. There is not enough strength now. To understand, Yakutia has 254 million hectares of forests, which is almost the same as in the whole of Canada. We need our own forest fire center and there is already a corresponding order from the President of the country Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin.

For extinguishing in remote and hard-to-reach areas, it is necessary to seriously strengthen the technical base. The first steps have already been taken. On behalf of Plenipotentiary Envoy Yuri Petrovich Trutnev, 149 million rubles were allocated. for the purchase of heavy and water transport equipment. The issue of purchasing the "Cyclone" installation, which causes artificial rain to be installed on an aircraft, is being studied. Such a modernized aircraft An-26 has proven itself well this summer.

Thirdly, it is necessary to build protective structures around settlements: mineralized strips and ditches according to new standards. The government of Yakutia, on my instructions, is developing a new fire protection program, which will be applied from next year.

This summer has shown us that together we can withstand any challenge. To fight the fires, the whole republic united, specialists from all over the country came to the aid of the Yakutians. A great contribution to the common victory was made by the volunteer headquarters - representatives of big business, individual entrepreneurs, social activists, diasporas, caring people. The contribution of local self-government bodies and residents of settlements is invaluable - it was their forces that carried out work on the ground, arranged life for everyone who worked on extinguishing. Knowledge of the area, unconditional assistance with equipment and food have become a huge help in an emergency. More than 1,2 thousand volunteers took part in extinguishing and preventing fires, about 200 organizations provided assistance with their own resources and resources. Locals, volunteers and professional firefighters are real heroes. People in fire and smoke endangered their health and lives. As an example, I can cite Vladimir Yadreev, who saved the lives of two people captured by fire in a horse base. For five long hours in fire and smoke, he searched for and delivered both victims to the camp for volunteers.

- For a while, the fires somewhat pushed into the background all other problems, projects and undertakings. However, life goes on, and what challenge do you consider now the main one for the Republic?

- If we talk about problems, then one of the urgent is the issue of COVID-19. However, Yakutia was one of the first to start mass vaccination. Over the past time, we have made sure that the decision was correct: according to this indicator, our region is among the top ten leaders in the country.

Health is the quality of life. In the next ten years, we plan to qualitatively change healthcare in Yakutia. We start with the development of infrastructure. First of all, we are engaged in primary care, as these are, as a rule, the most visited and demanded medical institutions. In 2021, 6 healthcare facilities have already been commissioned, according to the plan, we will launch three more by the end of the year, this is a cardio center, a medical outpatient clinic in the Kobyai district and a FAP in the Namsky district.

- One of the key events in September was the Eastern Economic Forum. Which of the sessions and meetings held at this forum do you consider to be key for the Republic? Why? You also had a rich international agenda - how useful, in your opinion, was the WEF for foreign participants?

The WEF was attended by representatives of over 50 countries, all leading economies of Asia. The APR countries remain the driving force behind the global economy. The result of 5 years of Yakutia's participation in the WEF was the signing of 121 agreements totaling 643,26 billion rubles of investments - these agreements directly affect the growth of the economy in the republic.

Within the framework of the WEF, the Yakut delegation met with representatives of Japan, India, South Korea and China. The Japanese company Mitsui & Co will help in the creation of wind power plants (this one is already operating in Tiksi), the implementation of the Smart City project (Japanese technologies are intended to be used in the installation of modular data centers and CCTV cameras in the Smart City project in Yakutia) and supply of anti-corrosion devices. Partners from India accepted proposals for cooperation in the jewelry-cutting and coal industries, in the timber industry, in the field of IT, education, medicine and tourism. India highly appreciates cooperation with Yakutia, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi said separately. And South Korea is interested in research on climate change issues, the construction of icebreakers and the production of liquefied natural gas.

- An agreement was signed with Rosatom on the development of carbon-free generation in the Arctic. What is it about?

More than 40% of the territory of Yakutia is located beyond the Arctic Circle. Providing residents of remote, hard-to-reach settlements with reliable and environmentally friendly energy sources that will reduce dependence on the "northern delivery" is one of the priority tasks. We signed an agreement with Rosatom on the construction of a unique facility - a low-power nuclear power plant based on the RITM-200N reactor facility, which will supply the Ust-Kuyga village and a gold mining enterprise, which will give an impetus to the development of the entire Ust-Yansky region. If the project proves to be successful, then it can be extended to other regions and become one of the benchmarks of the "new energy" in the Arctic.

The approach to the development of energy in the republic is complex: depending on the territory, we use different sources. At the same time, we are betting on the transition to more environmentally friendly forms of energy, in line with global trends.

For example, in the Verkhoyansk region, within the framework of the EEF, RusHydro and I solemnly launched the first hybrid (diesel and solar) power plant - AGEC Tabalakh. The Japanese company Mitsui, which has installed a wind farm in the village of Tiksi, intends to build similar facilities throughout the Arctic zone in Yakutia.

By the end of 2022, power complexes will be built and put into operation in 5 settlements of Yakutia - the villages of Khonuu, Kulun-Elbyut, Sasyr, Tebyulakh, Momsky district and in the city of Verkhoyansk. Optimization of local energy will continue in 2023, when diesel generation facilities in 41 settlements will be modernized, and in 2024, when energy sources in 25 remote villages will become hybrid.

This will be the largest solar energy development project in isolated regions of Russia.

- And one more question on the Arctic. You recently said that within the framework of the "Clean Arctic" project, about 5 thousand tons of scrap will have to be removed from the Arctic regions of the republic in 100 years. How much will this operation cost? Will scrap be "gold"?

- Cleaning work began at the end of August in the Bulunkan Bay in the Bulunsky district of the republic. All the collected waste - and volunteers, local residents, employees of the Tiksi port collected over 600 tons of scrap metal in a month and a half - were sent on a barge along the Lena River to the Nizhny Bestyakh station, from there by train to a metallurgical plant in Komsomolsk-on-Amur for remelting. This expedition is the beginning of a large-scale cleaning of the village of Tiksi and other Arctic regions of Yakutia; by 2024, the task is to complete the cleaning of the village of Tiksi.

It is important that the work will be carried out by attracting extra-budgetary funds: funds from the Clean Arctic Fund and commercial companies with which special agreements will be concluded. This is an example of corporate social responsibility.

Recently, in connection with the chairmanship of Russia in the Arctic Council, we see an increasing interest in the Arctic not only from the state, but also from business, the public and, of course, the scientific community. Next year, the first Climatic Expedition of the Russian Ecological Society will take place in Yakutia. I believe that conducting research in Yakutia, the largest Arctic region of Russia, will allow scientists to make a breakthrough in studying global changes in the Arctic region.

- The industrial production index in Yakutia was 112,2% in the first quarter of 2021. This figure was achieved mainly due to the extractive industries. Filling the budget of the Republic, export - the success of all these areas is also directly related to the extraction of resources - precious stones, carbon fossils, and what is being done to diversify - which industries can balance the situation in the future?

Undoubtedly, the mining sector will be the main one for Yakutia for a long time to come. However, we are, of course, engaged in the development of other industries - and statistics confirm their growth.

Now, 42 thousand people (8,2%) work in the creative industries of Yakutia, employed in 6,5 thousand organizations (11%) - this is if you count according to the ASI method. The republic has adopted the Concept for the Development of the Digital Economy, it is envisaged to increase the number of people employed in creative industries to 95 thousand people. These are such industries as IT, digital content, games, cinema, fashion and jewelry design.

In Yakutia, pre-pandemic economic indicators have already been achieved, and the number of small businesses has begun to grow again. The turnover of SMEs is estimated at 336 billion rubles, which corresponds to the turnover of 2020. The number of self-employed is also growing - there are already over 11 thousand of them. The republic has the Yakutia ASEZ and the Yuzhnaya Yakutia ASEZ, which offer entrepreneurs some of the most attractive tax regimes in the country. A variety of industries are launched in the TOP (from jewelry to plastic packaging processing).

In 2022, it is planned to launch the Kvartal Truda cluster - a creative cluster with a total area of ​​13,3 thousand square meters. m, which will unite producers of digital content - animation projects, computer graphics, blogs, music, etc.

- Yakutia, together with the Nizhny Novgorod region, became the first regions that received the approval of the Presidium of the Government Commission for Regional Development in the Russian Federation to receive an infrastructure loan? What does this mean for the Republic, will it be the envy of its neighbors?

- Yakutia uses all available financial instruments to accelerate the construction of facilities important for Yakutia. A breakthrough has taken place in the last year - we see the emergence of a large number of tools, the so-called "infrastructure menu". These are loans and bonds, the Far Eastern concession, mechanisms of public-private partnership. Yakutia was one of the first in Russia to receive an infrastructure loan; one of the first was able to conclude an agreement for financing through infrastructure bonds.

An infrastructure loan in the amount of 4,16 billion rubles will allow us to build communal infrastructure in 2 residential areas in Yakutsk and Neryungri. Also at the EEF, an agreement was signed with DOM.RF JSC on financing the construction of social facilities in these areas at the expense of another instrument - infrastructure bonds in the amount of RUB 3 billion. Thanks to this support, it is planned to reduce housing prices and build areas of a new level of comfort.

So, when planning the territory of "Zvezdny microdistrict" in Yakutsk, the principle of "courtyard without cars" was applied, parking lots will be located outside the courtyard territory. Engineering communications in new buildings will be laid underground, which is unique for Yakutsk, the largest city on the permafrost. Another innovation - due to geoplastics, the entrance will be provided “from the ground”, although houses in Yakutsk stand on stilts.

In the field of PPP, Yakutia is already one of the leaders of the Far Eastern Federal District - which was confirmed by the Ministry of Economic Development of Russia, having published a rating on the development of PPP in the regions.

A variety of facilities are being built under the PPP scheme - these are schools, kindergartens, housing and communal services, and power plants. 23 objects in the field of education and culture have already been commissioned, over 3 thousand places in kindergartens and more than 1,5 thousand places in schools have been created.

By the end of 2022, we will build 2 more schools for 670 children, 4 kindergartens for 820 children and the Polyarnaya Zvezda children's recreation and health center, which will provide recreation for over 5 thousand children a year. For its construction, for the first time in Russia, a federal capital grant was attracted through the "Single Subsidy" of the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East, which increases the attractiveness of the project for the investor.

- One of the topics at the EEF was the prospect of creating a film cluster in the Far East. The phenomenon of Yakut cinema has been forcing specialists to puzzle for several years. In your opinion, what is the secret of Yakut cinema and where should the film cluster be located?

In 2013, at a forum in Sochi, I talked about the phenomenon of Yakut cinema - and the audience in the hall was surprised, even laughed. Now Yakutia is the first region in Russia in terms of film production, after Moscow and St. Petersburg: about 100 full-length films have already been released in 10 years.

The originality and special view of the world captivate the Russian audience. Screening of Yakut cinema at Kinotavr has become a good tradition: last year the film "Scarecrow" directed by Dmitry Davydov was shown, this year the film "Nuuchcha" ("Russian") directed by Vladimir Munkuev, which recently won the Grand Prix, will be shown film festival in the city of Karlovy Vary.

In Yakutia, the first completely carbon-neutral film "White Steamer" will be shot - the debut of director Inga Shepeleva. The project received a high expert assessment from the Union of Cinematographers of Russia, and the decision to support it was made almost unanimously. The presented scenario touches upon common human problems, but pays special attention to the mentality of our people. I wanted the debutant's result to be able to meet the high expectations of experts. The creators of the tape will remove it according to international standards and make the picture completely carbon-neutral. And thus, they will launch the process of environmentally friendly film production in Russia (trees will be planted to compensate for CO2 emissions allowed during the production of the film).   

To further develop cinema as a commercial industry, we are creating the Film and Animation Fund, which will attract extra-budgetary funds, which will increase investments and raise the bar in film production. For example, the film Tsar Bird, which won the 2018th Moscow International Film Festival in 40, cost only 3 million rubles. But in order to win at world film festivals and go out to the world distribution, you need to strengthen.

- Thanks a lot for the interview.

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