Opening Asia for Russia

27.09.2018 152 просмотров

On the sidelines of the IV Caspian Media Forum on September 20, 2018, Alexander Lebedev, General Director of the TV channel and the Big Asia website, spoke with the head of the Astrakhan region.

In the course of the interview, Alexander Alexandrovich spoke about the integration projects of the Astrakhan region within the framework of the agreements of the Caspian summit, about environmental protection, about personal friendship with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

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Alexander Lebedev:
- Alexander Alexandrovich, good afternoon!

Alexander Zhilkin:
- Good afternoon!

Alexander Lebedev:
 – You have a personal good relationship with the Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi. How did you meet, and how did this acquaintance affect your personal destiny?

Alexander Zhilkin:
- It so happened in life that when we began to establish relations with India, we was honored to sign an agreement on cooperation with the state of Gujarat, whose governor at that time was Mr. Narendra Modi. And I have been there many times, and Mr. Modi came to Astrakhan. He really liked it here. We continued to communicate, considered areas of cooperation, because the North-South International Transport Corridor passes through our territory, to India through Iran. He became the prime minister of India, but he has not forgotten our relationship. Naturally, we meet regularly, including at the venues of the Economic Forum. 

And today, along with Azerbaijan and Iran, creating the infrastructure for the passage of goods of various formations and in various directions, we, of course, are approaching that period when Indian cargo and goods go to Russia, and Russian goods go to India along this corridor. This includes container transportation, and rail and air transportation of perishable products. And here, just the respectful attitude of the Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi, towards us will contribute to the development of a large intermodal corridor. 

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Alexander Zhilkin and Narendra Modi. Photo:

Alexander Lebedev:
- We are talking about the corridor: "Dubai - Iran - Caspian through Baku, which should end in St. Petersburg?

Alexander Zhilkin:
– Yes, this intermodal corridor, which is very important. It was necessary to calculate the route according to the speed of containers passing, to see what tariffs the countries set for transportation by rail and sea, what are the port dues tariffs, and so on. This meticulous work was carried out by the entire Ministry of Transport of the Russian Federation. Of course, we took an active part in this along with Azerbaijan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, and, of course, our partner India. 

I assume that in a year the activation will be multiplied, given that the construction of the railway through the Iranian northern provinces will be completed, it will join the railway of Azerbaijan, and then all communications with Azerbaijan have been created.

Alexander Lebedev:
- The Iranian authorities said that cannot find a strategic place in this program…

Alexander Zhilkin:
- The solution has already been found. And here, in general, everything should turn out as we predicted.

Alexander Lebedev:
- It turns out that the South-North axis actually becomes the axis "East-West"?

Alexander Zhilkin:
- Yes, this is the southern branch of the Silk Road, which historically has always been here, merchants passed along it. And indeed, in Astrakhan you can now really see the farmsteads that have been preserved. We preserve them as a historical and architectural heritage. These are Indian farmsteads, Persian farmsteads, Chinese farmsteads. 

Alexander Lebedev:
– Tell us about the role of the Astrakhan region in integration issues in the Caspian region .

Alexander Zhilkin:
¬– We are at the crossroads of Europe and the East. Historically, our ancestors of all nations and peoples that represent the Astrakhan region lived here. Believe me, these are more than 150 nationalities, nationalities, a multi-confessional region.

We do not care about the shape of the eyes and the color of the hair. We know for sure that it is necessary to respect each other, and each other's culture, to understand it. A special Astrakhan mentality has formed, which is absolutely similar to the way of thinking and the general spiritual mood of people living on the shores of the Caspian Sea from the Kazakh side, from the Turkmen, Iranian, Azerbaijani side. For many years, we systematically approached maintaining the relationships that our great-grandfathers had. We succeeded. We have built wonderful, I would say, high-level relations with all the Caspian states. We regularly visit these countries, their delegations are present with us on the widest range of humanitarian projects, which include the entire social block, youth interaction, education, healthcare, culture and sports, and we also cooperate on economic projects. 
< br> Of course, we also, to the best of our competence, participated in the formation of the document, which today is called the Convention or the Constitution of the Caspian Sea, signed in August in the city of Aktau. 

on your activity and your future plans, this convention, I answer from the point of view of an ordinary person - an Astrakhan who, living here, certainly wants the situation to be stable, so that it is clear how to plan your life path (it is desirable that it be a long !), how to guide your children and grandchildren so that it is safe to live here, so that no emergency situations arise. The convention answered all these questions. That is, the rules of life are clear, the rules of action for all who live on the shores of the Caspian Sea. This is almost one hundred million people.

Alexander Lebedev:
- Give some examples of the integration cooperation of the Astrakhan region, which would lead through Astrakhan to Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan.

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Alexander Lebedev

Alexander Zhilkin:
– Well, let's remember the historical level of competencies in shipbuilding. In the 19th century, in Astrakhan, since the time of the Nobel brothers, tanker barges or, as they are called today, tankers for transporting oil - from Baku, from the fields, here, to Astrakhan, and further along the Volga, were made. Today, such shipyards are being created and orders are being fulfilled for the development of oil and gas fields. We build them for our partners - Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan. Today, the construction of a platform for the Dragon Oil company, which operates in the area of responsibility of Turkmenistan, on their shelf, is being completed.

We, of course, are building for our companies, for Lukoil, which, while developing fields in the Caspian Sea, works directly with several constituent entities of the Russian Federation and through the system of oil pipelines sends oil produced in the Caspian Sea to the Volgograd oil plant, and sends gas to the Stavropol Territory through a gas pipeline. And it also trades through the oil pipeline outside the Russian Federation through Novorossiysk. 

For example, in Turkmenistan. This, of course, is the port of Turkmenbashi, which is infrastructurally equipped today. And our port facilities make it possible to intensify the supply of goods along the short arm to Turkmenistan both from us and from Turkmenistan to us. Moreover, not only Russian cargo passes through us, but also Belarusian cargo, and cargoes that Turkmenistan purchases in European countries go in transit. 

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The Port of Turkmenbashi. Photo by the Office of the Press Service and Information of the Governor of the Astrakhan Region

We we are very actively interacting in the educational project. Today, 6,000 students from all the countries of the Caspian region are studying in Astrakhan universities. Just recently, six years ago, only the first five students arrived from Turkmenistan, and today there are 1,500 of them. These processes are underway and growing because trusting and respectful relations have been built with each other. 

It is the same with Iran. The country is big, about 80 million people live there. Mountain country. Definitely needs supplies of meat and meat products there. We respect their laws and traditions, and we know that they need halal products. It was necessary in a certain period of time to build relationships so that your partner trusts you, knows that you will not let him down. The year before last, we started the practical implementation of this project. This year, in 8 months, we have sent a thousand tons of meat to the Islamic Republic of Iran, both in slaughter, butchered, and in live form. The Iranian business and the Astrakhan business also work on a partnership basis, and today more than 160 companies are represented here. 

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Alexander Zhilkin

Branch opened in Astrakhan central bank Melli for settlements between Russian and Iranian businesses. Moreover, including in regional currencies. We are historically very close to Azerbaijan, and a fairly large diaspora of Azerbaijanis lives here - very hardworking, reliable fellow citizens of the Russian Federation. For example, one of the enterprises in Azerbaijan manufactures and sells very high-quality, very high-level transformers, and they are in demand on the market of the Russian Federation. We offered our site in the free economic zone. The company is happy to come here. It sells most of its products on our market. For him, the tax burden is reduced, it is possible not to make any customs payments. Today they are building a plant for the production of transformers in this free economic zone. I have given just a few examples of integration, which, of course, will develop. 

I'm not talking about the fact that the Business Center of Azerbaijan was first opened here, and at the end of last year the Trade House of Iran was opened in Astrakhan , where 14 chambers of commerce and industry of Iran are presented with a demonstration of everything they produce. This is where all contracts are signed. These are sites that work directly, you don’t have to go anywhere, you get contracts and make a business. This is not only for Astrakhan residents, it is for the entire Russian business and for the business of neighboring countries. Naturally, they come, use this site, work for the benefit of their countries. Well, we, as a unifying territory, too. 

Alexander Lebedev:
- Due to my professional activity, I am interested in regional projects. Unfortunately, in the information space of Russia, the regions are presented through a negative agenda.

Yesterday, at the Caspian Media Forum, we talked about the formation of a positive agenda - about what you are saying now, about the fact that a person lives positively, he develops, he thinks about the good. Quite recently, at the Eastern Economic Forum, I learned that the Solar Systems company, which signed an agreement on new projects with the Eurasian Development Bank, has built an excellent solar station here. You have advanced projects in the field of ecology and green energy in your region. 

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Alexander Zhilkin:
– Well, firstly, I am very glad and sincerely surprised that you , the federal media came to the conclusion that more positive information should be given. This is not necessary for the governors of the regions, but for the population, because when you get up in the morning and the news blocks begin with some kind of catastrophe that happened at night (yes, it’s a pity, there are human lives), but every day we zombie our own with constant negative energy the population to a bad mood, to depression. But people still want an ordinary human life, the mood to go to work with a smile. And if you formulate a program for the development of the region in this way and talk only about problematic topics, then you will never find a solution to fix everything. 

As for environmental issues, this topic is relevant for the entire population of the Astrakhan region. We are 28 meters below the World Ocean, everything good and not so good flows to us from all over Mother Russia, and of course we monitor the state of the water by looking at the fish. There is pike perch, there are crayfish, which means that the water is clean. And not only follow! It is necessary to carry out a number of compensatory measures after human intervention in the last century, when the flow of the Volga was regulated. Yes, they made it navigable, yes, they receive energy in parallel, but still they regulated it, intervened in nature. Then a large group of scientists from the Soviet Union developed a program to compensate for human intervention in wildlife. 

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Photo from the site:

After the 90s, when there was no time for environmental subjects, the degradation of the Volga, the delta, the fore-delta was not paid much attention, and we stood at the source and formed the need to start this work. It was the people of Astrakhan who turned to the leadership of our country. To pay tribute to President Vladimir Vladimirovich, he realistically assessed the dangerous dynamics of the transformation of the Volga into almost an ordinary puddle, and then irreversible processes could occur, including in the Caspian Sea. 

And when an instruction was given to develop a certain program, I I am grateful that I was appointed chairman of the working group to prepare this issue for the State Council. We then connected all the scientists, raised all the archival documents. The government of the Russian Federation has developed a very good program, in my opinion. Now it is being filled with all the regions located on the Volga, including us. Just this week, we had a meeting of the State Duma Committee on Ecology and Natural Resources on this topic. Next year we will start a big project, and I hope it will be very successful. The majestic Volga River, together with its tributaries and with the living creatures that are in it, will be eternal.

It seems that, on the one hand, we extract gas, development is underway, volumes are increasing, but given our geographical location and climatic conditions , we have started implementing the Green Energy project. 

To date, we have already built five solar generation stations, and 20 stations will be built over the next two and a half, maximum three years. This is about 350 megawatts of electrical energy received from the sun, and today partners have entered who will use wind, wind generation. The sites where this equipment will be installed are already being determined, and the generated energy will be supplied to the general system of the electric energy market. 

This project is important for many people living in the Astrakhan region, who are, say, on islands - travel companies, farms, which are located far in the semi-desert zone and it is difficult to conduct electricity there, it is a big expense. 

We agreed with our companies, including Solar Systems, what they will do an observation platform from where people could see what a miracle it is! A huge glade, 10 hectares, everything is in glass, and there is no noise, but electricity is obtained. Even wedding corteges drove up there the first days, because it was interesting to take a picture against the backdrop of glare. 

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Photo from the site:

They introduced a new competence for us: today, as part of the development of small businesses, certain structures are being created that can, upon request, install this generation at remote points, but most importantly, not only install it, but also service it so that people are not afraid that something will break, and there is no one will be repaired. These are far-reaching goals that we are pursuing. Well, on the other hand, of course, they have already come to the need for the introduction and use of electric transport here. But not by wire again, because it's expensive, but with the help  electric buses. 

Yes, we now have proposals from Russian companies, there is an proposal from the Belarusian plant, and we are considering them. We are thinking how much we will purchase and implement this environmentally friendly transport. 

Of course, like the whole country, we are concerned about the disposal of the garbage that was accumulated in the Soviet period and is not going anywhere. He just folded up and laid down. Today we have a big program, we hope that there will be support from the federal government, because it is very difficult for the regions to build a processing plant alone.

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Alexander Lebedev:
- This on MSW?

Alexander Zhilkin:
- Yes, we are introducing a system of segregated waste collection. I don't want to say it's easy. But pilot sites have begun to operate in many homes. We agreed to experiment within the framework of youth, active volunteer movements, which themselves find some solutions, put containers made of nets, into which they encourage everyone to throw plastic. And you know, the movement has begun.
Of course, the main thing was to reach the technologies that are now used in full in our agricultural complex, without the use of various herbicides, pesticides.

30% of useful plants in a tomato field, and 70% are grass. Having completely applied the drip irrigation system, which we implemented in cooperation with the State of Israel (and today we already have two plants under construction for the production of this very droplet), today we have the largest field in the country for the use of drip irrigation - more than 60 thousand hectares. Of course, at the same time, we immediately saved on water consumption, and this is also an environmental issue, since we began to consume ten times less.  A droplet drips under the bush and that's it, but it doesn't water the rest. This led to an increase in productivity, to the possibility of growing two crops from one field due to the climate, without using herbicides and pesticides, which, of course, under certain circumstances, still got into the water. 

Alexander Lebedev:< /b>
- There is an understanding that renewable energy should come at the expense of attracting investors. And investors, of course, want tariffs with a guarantee to sell. Here's what you do?

Alexander Zhilkin:
- Do you know, a decision has been made at the country level that the government of the Russian Federation does not force us to allocate subsidies or lower tariffs. Companies do not ask for any benefits, they come here, they produce energy, they create highly professional and automated jobs. This is especially interesting for young people. And they pay taxes. All! This project is very effective, and then the government sorts out the compensations, the losses that some companies or operators already bear in the single energy market. 

Alexander Lebedev:
- And concluding our conversation, I would like to return to the topic of Eurasian cooperation. It so happened that the Astrakhan region is located right on the border where Europe passes into Asia. How do you see the development of Asian-European cooperation, Eurasian integration and the role of Russia in this global process?

Alexander Zhilkin:
– Of course, I see it in a rather energetic, fast and positive development. The role of Russia is determined by the geographical and historical location of our country. Now, if we take Astrakhan people, and Russia as a whole, it’s from what centuries and millennia there has been an interweaving of all peoples and nations! For example, I don’t even have an idea how to live with this or that people, with this or that nation or confession, because I know it, I know it genetically. 

We were talking about Israel, I just want to remind the story.  The Kazakh Khaganate was here, in this place where we are now, and the first religion on these lands was Judaism. Here, early Muslimism was born, and early Christian trends ...

Russia will be very useful to both Europe and Asia in terms of developing peaceful coexistence and development in terms of integration processes that we will develop for the benefit of our country.

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PS On September 26, it became known that Governor  Alexander Zhilkin is moving to a new job. Russian President Vladimir Putin announced this during a meeting with Sergei Morozov, who will temporarily act as governor of the Astrakhan region.

The former head of the region met with the regional government, and also held a big -conference for journalists. 

Alexander Zhilkin sincerely thanked the media representatives for their work. “In acting as governor, I relied on many institutions. Including one of the most important - the media institute, - he said. – It was you who helped to convey to society the goals that I set for myself and the team to solve the problems of developing the region. Without this, it is impossible to work fruitfully.”


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