Medvedev says APEC forum in Vladivostok will transform Far Eastern city

President Dmitry Medvedev urged officials to think about the future of Russky Island, “a place with a unique environment.” (RIA Novosti/Dmitry Astakhov)
The forthcoming APEC summit is an important event, but it will also be an impetus to improve the lives of the people in Russia’s Far East, the Russian president has said.

­The forum will be held on Russky (Russian) Island near the city of Vladivostok in September 2012. The island, situated in the Peter the Great Gulf, the largest gulf in the Sea of Japan adjoining Russia’s Primorsky Krai (Maritime Province), was one of the places that Medvedev visited during his tour of the Far East.

This summit will bring additional recognition to Russia as an essential part of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the president said at a meeting that was held on Russky this Thursday. But he noted that while the forum will last just for a couple of days, “what we are creating will stand, I hope, for decades and centuries to come.”

Medvedev’s visit and the meeting were devoted to issues concerning the preparation for the summit. Many construction projects are being developed “practically from scratch,” the president said. “As a result of the summit, we should get a new Vladivostok, agreeable to the residents of the city and the entire Primorsky Region.”

Almost 100 facilities will be constructed, which amounts to 10 percent of the present size of Vladivostok, the president stressed. However, Russky Island was not an easy venue to choose for the summit, he admitted. The territory did not meet the requirements for any such project. “There was nothing here,” Medvedev said.

But he also urged officials to think about the future of the island itself, “a place with a unique environment.” This ecosystem should not disappear as a result of the summit and the large amount of construction that is currently under way, Medvedev warned. “On the contrary, the opportunities that the additional infrastructure creates should benefit the development of the island and the whole of Vladivostok.”        

Medvedev also ordered that Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov to personally control the withdrawal of plots of land belonging to the ministry in Vladivostok. These plots will later be used as sites for construction projects on account of the upcoming APEC summit. The president said criminal proceedings would be instituted against those carrying out illegal operations in connection with these plots.

“Within the city limits, everywhere you look, there are plots of land belonging to the Defense Ministry,” the head of state noted. “Stop sitting on these plots. They do not do anything themselves, and yet they prevent others from doing something.” Medvedev ordered the ministry to submit proposals within a month for the transference of these plots to the city and the region. “This mess should be done away with,” Medvedev said. “Defense Minister Serdyukov should fly to Vladivostok as soon as possible and make all the decisions personally. The timeframe is two weeks. Then a report should be submitted to me.”  

The head of state also warned that officials will bear personal responsibility for failing to construct the facilities for the summit on time. He reminded them that the old part of Vladivostok must be renovated too. Medvedev was viewing the city from a bridge, which is being built across Bosfor Vostochny, a passage between Vladivostok and Russky Island.

The unique bridge is the most expensive element of the preparations for the forthcoming APEC summit and Vladivostok's revival. “Everything  should be done in such a way that no one will feel ashamed later," Medvedev told Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov, Interfax reports.

The president also visited the construction site of the Far East Federal University, the venue for the APEC forum. He supported the idea of combining the summit’s closing ceremony and the opening ceremony for the university and said he would like “to come here and give lectures to the students.”