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Russian president arrived in Astrakhan on a working visit on Tuesday
Vladimir Putin who arrived in Astrakhan on a working visit on Tuesday, held a meeting with Governor of the Astrakhan Region Alexander Zhilkin. The governor described the president the social and political situation in the region and the region’s economic development, which, according to Zhilkin, are stable. “The regional government works in conformity with the adopted economic programme for the region’s development, while sectoral programmes of development were adopted for all economic sectors,” Zhilkin continued. He added that the gross regional product had risen by 6.5 percent. “We set the task of achieving 14-15 percent by the annual results and hope that the task will be fulfilled by the year-end,” the governor went on to say. He stated that regional agriculture was developing at outstripping rates, which is true of both cattle breeding and plant-growing. Putin expressed interest whether it is really so that the region has tripled crop yields. The governor replied that yields for melon crops had been 180 metric centners per hectare in the past. They jumped up to 650 metric centners per hectare after the introduction of advanced technologies and even to 1,000 metric centners on some farms. As for grain crops, including wheat of hard varieties, yields were eight-nine metric centners per hectare in the past; average yields have reached 24 centners now, Zhilkin emphasized. He also noted that the region was developing shipbuilding at impressive rates. According to the governor, all major shipyards have orders in their books, permitting them to operate full blast. For instance neighbouring countries, including Kazakhstan, display great interest in Astrakhan shipyards. One of shipyards built the Ispolin (Giant) crane with a lifting capacity of 1,200 tonnes along with a drilling rig for prospecting in order to implement the Russian-Kazakhstan Kurmangazy project. “We’ll be ready to start drilling in a month,” Zhilkin said with confidence. Besides, the governor noted that the region studies a question, along with the Russian Gazprom Company, on building an enterprise for deep gas processing. Other littoral states, including Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, already displayed interest in the project. The governor said that LUKOIL would start recovering oil and casing gas at the Russian section of Caspian shelf in two years time. Zhilkin reported that the region mulls over a project of extracting iodine. “The region has good iodine reserves, and we can meet Russia’s requirements in this product,” the governor stressed
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