Rustam Minnikhanov to opponents of WIP: ‘We haven’t decided yet. Why meet with me?’

President of Tatarstan on transformation of Kazan, participation in the Tatarstan president election and waste incineration plant

Rustam Minnikhanov to opponents of WIP: ‘We haven’t decided yet. Why meet with me?’
Photo: tatarstan.ru

By the end of the year, the president of Tatarstan traditionally meets with the press to summarise the performance, discuss further plans and answer questions. An analogous meeting with representatives of the regional and federal mass media took place on 24 December. In a talk with journalists, Rustam Minnikhanov admitted that he could participate in the presidential election after he consulted his wife. He assured that the issue on the construction of a waste incineration plant hadn’t been resolved yet, but the waste problem anyway needs a solution. The head of the republic remembered not only the performance in 2019 but also at Realnoe Vremya’s behest in the last ten years and even earlier. On the threshold of the 100th anniversary of the TASSR Rustam Minnikhanov remembered the decisions that changed Kazan and Tatarstan.

“The last 20 years have been unbelievable”

During the meeting with journalists on 24 December, answering Realnoe Vremya’s question, Rustam Minnikhanov noted key changes in Kazan and across the republic in the last 20 years — both under him and first President of Tatarstan Mintimer Shaimiyev.

“There have been revolutionary decisions in the last 20 years when dilapidated houses were demolished, gasification took place. As I am saying to you now that we will put all the houses in order. For instance, as for the demolition of dilapidated houses and the gasification programme, then the situation was much worse when our first President Mintimer Shaimiyev set tasks. We (looking at head of the President’s Apparatus Asgat Safarov) were near, participated in this process. It was a bit unbelievable, but we performed these tasks,” Rustam Minnikhanov commented.

He also paid attention to big changes that took place due to the celebration of the 1,000th anniversary of Kazan and the 2013 Universiade.

“Look at how much Kazan has changed. It was a middling city. There was big federal support in 2005 when we were getting ready for the 1,000th anniversary of Kazan here, of course, and we put effort. We didn’t manage to win the bid for hosting the Universiade the first time but won it for the second time. Then it all began. I have seen colossal changes since 2005 or maybe earlier. I arrived in Kazan in 1998, Kazan is different. In 2013, Kazan was full of digs. But everything changed on 6 July — roads opened, new venues appeared. That’s to say, these two events gave an impulse to Kazan. A year later a competition of CIS countries, a number of competitions took place. Now it is a common thing in Kazan, and it is good. 14,000 foreign students study here. We change, of course, but we should work further,” the president went on.

Look at how much Kazan has changed. It was a middling city. There was big federal support in 2005 when we were getting ready for the 1,000th anniversary of Kazan here, of course, and we put effort. Then we had an idea of how to making the republic more recognisable

Besides Kazan, Minnikhanov noted positive changes in other places that are important for Tatarstan.

“Are you a native of Kazan?” he addressed Realnoe Vremya’s correspondent.

“No, I am from Bolgar.”

“Bolgar also changed thanks to Renascence Fund, we should thank Mr Shaimiyev. When he left the post, he said: “I will deal with this issue”. A huge job was done within 7-8 years. Two sites were included to UNESCO Historical Heritage Site List.”

“It is not excluded I will take part in the presidential election. I will consult my wife”

He also answered a question about his possible participation in the Tatarstan presidential election in 2020, but as a joke. A decision hasn’t been made yet, it is good to serve the current term.

“I can agree or disagree to have my candidacy announced. I can’t run myself, I don’t have the power. I will consult my wife. This issue is probably important for the republic, you know. And such a situation is in every region. The year hasn’t ended yet. And my term is nine months, I should finish it well, then we will see. People are born within nine months,” Minnikhanov sighed. “But it is not excluded I will take part.”

This issue is probably important for the republic, you know. And such a situation is in every region. The year hasn’t ended yet. And my term is nine months, I should finish it well, then we will see

Оn WIP: “Am I an enemy of my republic and my capital?”

The issue on the construction of the waste incineration plant in Kazan isn’t resolved easily: the project has both defenders and opponents to whom Minnikhanov paid attention. So a number of activists who are against the construction of the WIP asked to meet the president of the republic personally. However, Minnikhanov noted it was early to talk about such a meeting.

“We haven’t decided yet to build it or not. Why meet with me?” he replied to the eco-activists. “It is necessary to recycle everything that can be recycled, the rest needs to be disposed of. For instance, Copenhagen is like Kazan. They made a skiing slope and a site for rock climbers in the city centre. It is a common thing. We haven’t made a decision yet. Moscow Oblast and we got this project, but we were lucky. The project costs 24-28 billion. And 500-1,000 people say: “Don’t do this”. And 1,25 million people live only in Kazan and in the neighbouring — what do they think? How will we live in our metropolis further? They haven’t been asked.”

He reminded that permission to build the plant wouldn’t be given unless results of international review of the project were known.

“Our project must be cutting-edge, by the latest standards,” Minnikhanov noted. “Metshin, Nigmatullin, Shadrikov have met with people, I understand them too. People’s emotions are hyped, people who hype them offer nothing, they say that waste sorting doesn’t solve problems. It is necessary to use everything that can be recycled further. This is why there is no other way. It is necessary that everyone who wants to have a look at the number of emissions be able to do it in real time. Am I an enemy of my republic and my capital? We just managed to get one project. Look at Moscow, they don’t know what to do, where to dispose of this waste, all landfills are full, there aren’t other solutions,” the president added.

It is necessary to use everything that can be recycled further. This is why there is no other way. It is necessary that everyone who wants to have a look at the number of emissions be able to do it in real time. Am I an enemy of my republic and my capital?

“Politicians’ ambitions shift to geopolitics”

Rustam Minnikhanov also shared his opinion about vectors of foreign politics of Russia and Tatarstan. According to him, the republic managed to conserve warm relationships with the USA and European countries in the economy. Political disagreements between Russia and foreign countries create certain difficulties, but foreign partners treat the situation with understanding.

“Politicians’ ambitions shift to geopolitics, it is very bad,” he commented. “Though we will conserve our relationships with European countries, with the USA we have a disagreement in some issues only at the political level, we don’t have any disagreement at the economic level. Another thing is that some of our partners are limited by economic sanctions, though we still have relationships and keep communicating. There was a delegation in England, we were in Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary — we work with everyone. Yes, it is a bit uncomfortable but not fatal. It is a bit complicated but I have to say that most of our partners understand, and we wait for this political disagreement to find a solution.”

He added that the region has productive relationships with Arab countries, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan.

I have to say that most of our partners understand, and we wait for this political disagreement to find a solution

On projects of Gazprom and Tatneft

Minnikhanov commented on Gazprom and Tatneft’s projects in the republic. An agreement on cooperation was signed in autumn between Gazprom and SIBUR on the construction of a gas processing plant in Tatarstan. The companies will decide to build the gas processing plant in Tatarstan or not in a year after research.

“This project (Editor’s Note: the gas processing plant) is technologically and technically elaborated by officials of Gazprom and SIBUR. And I think that it will highly likely be carried out, moreover, we are interested in this project. Imagine that gas is pumped out today. Some fields have wet gas, which sold for a gas price. It is profitable for the country, Gazprom, everyone to pass this wet gas through a pipe. We discussed such a decision a lot, our position is for, I am confident it must work.”

As for Tatneft, the company have possibilities of augmenting black gold production to 40 million tonnes despite complicated production and tough geological sites. However, “all will turn on agreements at the top”.

“Today we have technologies, infrastructure, specialists, this is why these issues are solvable. We consider cooperation in Uzbekistan, the company has experience in working at complex fields, with high depletion and water reserves. Now we are considering Kazakhstan and some fields in Samara and here, in Nenets Okrug,” the president said.

By Vitaly Akhmerov, Timur Rakhmatullin. Photo: tatarstan.ru
Tatarstan