MOSCOW, December 29 (Itar-Tass) —— Prime Minister Vladimir Putin made about 50 trips to different Russian regions from Kaliningrad to Sakhalin in 2011.
He visited his home town of St. Petersburg most frequently. The remotest destination was Magadan.
Interestingly, last year the majority of trips were made due to the need for “personal interference” in the situation to resolve different problems, such as forest fires, construction of new housing for those who lost their homes in fire, bankruptcy of enterprises, and interaction between regional administrations and the population.
This year, the prime minister’s trips focused mainly on the development of concrete regions and sectors of the economy. He dealt most closely with the energy sector in the Leningrad region, at the Kalinin nuclear power plant, the Sayano-Shushenskaya hydropower plant, and in St. Petersburg; industry and the defence industry on Udmurtia, Arkhangelsk region and Chelyabinsk region; construction of roads in Tver and medical centres in Ryazan; agrarian problems in Tambov and Mordovia; discussed ways to innovation development with scientists, experts and ministers in Tomsk; and supervised the construction of housing for the military in Kaliningrad.
Putin also responded to accidents in the outgoing year. There days after the sinking of the Bulgaria steamship in Tatarstan, which claimed 122 lives, he travelled to Kazan to pay tribute to the memory of the victims and order help to their families.
Putin also pay last respects to the Lokomotiv ice hockey team players who died in a plane crash in Yaroslavl on September 7 and pledged to help rebuild the team
The prime minister travelled abroad rarely and each time his trips were solely businesslike and often covered several countries at the same time. He made only 12 foreign trips and visited 14 countries in Europe and Asia. He made almost as many foreign trips in 2010.
Putin paid a great deal of attention to the development of relations with CIS partners, mainly Belarus and Kazakhstan, with which Russia has built even closer ties in 2011 by launching the Customs Union. He visited Minsk twice.
As for Ukraine, another historical partner of Russia, its possible accession to the Customs Union was discussed many times, but Putin always stressed that “it is Ukraine’s sovereign business to decide whether to join any integration association or not”.
However Moscow and Kiev had many things to discuss at the top level. Over the past year Putin made two trips to Ukraine: one official and one private. But Russian gas supplies always dominated the agenda, and Ukraine made many attempts to revise their terms.
Another post-Soviet country visited by Putin in 2011 was Abkhazia, following the death of its second President Sergei Bagapsh.
Putin made only a few trips to Europe, but each time his appearance evoked a lot of discussions. For example, at a meeting between the Russian government and the EU Commission in Brussels, Putin clearly stated his position on the events in Libya.
In Belgrade, during his combined visit to Slovenia and Serbia, local residents showed rare affection for the Russian prime minister and voluntarily agreed to make Saturday a workday in order not to upset the top-level meetings.
Putin got in the limelight again in Paris where he had flown in for the La Bourget air show. Several hundred journalists from around the world stampeded through the exhibition halls in a bid to catch a glimpse of the Russian premier.
In Denmark and Sweden, Putin once again discussed the development of offshore fields and port infrastructure in Russia and answered traditional questions about the abolition of visas with the Schengen zone countries and his plans for the presidential election in 2012. He never dropped a word as to who of the ruling tandem – President Dmitry Medvedev or he – would run for the office.
Putin returned to Europe – this time Slovakia -- several weeks later to “win” Russia’s bid for hosting the world ice hockey championship in 2016. A trip to China became Putin’s last foreign visit this year.