Valery Limarenko: “It used to be that the best place on Earth was the Alps… The same thing is now on Sakhalin”

Governor of the Sakhalin Region Valery Limarenko

Governor of the Sakhalin Region Valery Limarenko

Photo: Andrey Minaev

Crystal air, ski resorts, endless beaches, crabs and other seafood that is not the most common in central Russia… Sakhalin today it is the same terra incognita (“unknown land”) that attracts tourists from all over Russia. What awaits them in the Kuril Islands? At the Eastern Economic Forum to the editor-in-chief, general director of the Komsomolskaya Pravda media group Olesya Nosova said the governor of the Sakhalin region Valery Limarenko.


– Valery Igorevich, I would like to give you the magazine “Far Eastern Breakthrough”. This is our business publication, which Komsomolskaya Pravda publishes specifically for the Eastern Economic Forum. I hope the magazine will be useful to you.

– Why is it written “Crab Fever”? – the governor read the headline on the cover with interest. – We get all this without fever. Solid, calm. Maybe the fever means to eat more?..

– That’s also why. Let’s talk about tourism.

– And we have all good news, about tourism – with pleasure.

– It seems to me that all of Moscow dreams of visiting Sakhalin, the Kuril Islands. What’s going on there now?

– We invite you, taking this opportunity. Because Sakhalin is the best place on earth. It used to be believed that the best place on earth is the Alps, where it is not hot, there is fresh, clean air. The same thing is happening now on Sakhalin. We work a lot in the field of ecology. Made the air five times cleaner in terms of dust. We have such a cleaning technology that any person who comes says: this is the cleanest place on earth. You will come, you will see and you will be the first to say these words to me, after “hello.”

We are converting all boiler houses to gas, and we are doing a lot of work with Gazprom. Our deepest bow to Gazprom, these are our super partners who help the region develop. Our air is cleaner in terms of CO2 (carbon dioxide – “KP”). When you arrive, you get off the plane – the smell of the sea breeze. When you climb the mountains, you feel the transparent, clean air. And right from the mountains you can see the city of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk in lights at the foot. This is a fresh impression that I just brought back.

In our city center there is a ski resort – the most modern. The length of the tracks is 35 kilometers.

– They say you have the best mountain air in our country!..

– Thank you for saying that. Of course, tourism is developing at a very fast pace: 30% annual increase in tourists. In the next three years we will double the number of hotel rooms. Moreover, they are built to a high standard to satisfy the most demanding travelers. We are developing the direction of balneology. In March next year, a medical cluster will be built, where it is planned to carry out diagnostics and high-tech operations, as well as a chain of hotels with a spa. Services that are traditionally available in sanatoriums, including mud and water. We will even have pump rooms, like in the Caucasus, where people will be able to drink water, which will be called “Sakhalin-17”. A la “Essentuki-17”.

Governor of the Sakhalin Region Valery Limarenko gave an interview to the editor-in-chief, general director of the Komsomolskaya Pravda media group Olesya Nosova

Governor of the Sakhalin Region Valery Limarenko gave an interview to the editor-in-chief, general director of the Komsomolskaya Pravda media group Olesya Nosova

Photo: Andrey Minaev


– Does this mean that your personnel issue is resolved by itself? Are people coming to you?

– It doesn’t solve itself. There is an investment boom, money is being invested in various businesses, and jobs are appearing. Today, 10 thousand job vacancies are not filled. We actually have no unemployment – 0.4%. These are those people who do not need to work, or those who are moving to another job at this time. That’s why we are looking for people. We have a special recruiting agency that attracts people to Sakhalin. This is fundamentally important for us.

– For people to travel, they need housing.

– We are building so much that Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk has become the third city in Russia in terms of the number of completed housing per resident. In general, half a million square meters of housing are being built in the region, which is more than one square meter per person per year. And in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk it’s about one and a half meters. A dozen microdistricts are being built simultaneously. Land plots are allocated for 10 million square meters of housing. The master plan has been developed for the entire territory of Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands. We are very good in this sense. Leading Russian companies are present as builders: PIK, Samolet, and our local enterprises. Construction is also underway in the industrial business. Now large industrial companies are powerful builders.

– What specialists are required on Sakhalin?

– Software engineers, welders, electricians… The most ordinary professions, on the one hand, and on the other, these must be highly qualified specialists. These people work in companies that are present in the global market. We have a hydrocarbon cluster – production and processing of oil, gas, coal. Fishing industry. Our fleet is the most modern and largest in the Pacific Ocean. The most modern and large-scale processing. Factories are being built – the last one started operating last year. In the next two to three years, processing will double. There is a construction boom for recycling. The task is to process even more deeply than was done before. Not just fillet or minced surimi, but we are also thinking about making collagen, processing mariculture (a direction of aquaculture that breeds or grows marine aquatic organisms – algae, mollusks, crustaceans, fish and echinoderms – “KP”). Mariculture is much more expensive than fish. For example, a scallop. And collagen costs an order of magnitude more than mariculture. This is deep processing, added value…

– Fish fat?..

– We already produce fish oil.

– Highly concentrated fish oil is in short supply in our country. This is what I’m telling you.

– Thank you, I will tell our fish industrialists.


– What about your transport accessibility?

– Full order.

– Have there been any changes?

– The changes are very simple. The main airline of the Far East is Aurora, based in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. The President decided to have “flat” tariffs (tickets are sold at a fixed price that does not change throughout the year – “KP”). You can fly from Moscow for 13 thousand rubles. Three planes fly from Moscow to Sakhalin a day. If necessary, four or five. As many as needed, as many will arrive. From Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk you can fly to almost every region of the Far East. In fact, we fly wherever we deem necessary: ​​a plane flies to Iturup twice a day, and also often to Kunashir. The number of quality airports is now increasing. We have already completed the design at Shikotan, and the construction of the airfield at Paramushir is nearing completion. We are absolutely accessible. Plus, we have a modern railway, small aviation is developing – these are fundamental solutions to the transport issue.

Of course, we need to work on roads. No roads have been built on Sakhalin for a long time; two thirds of the roads do not have a hard surface. This will take a couple of decades and about a trillion rubles. But today we have chosen dominants for ourselves. We are building a highway on the west coast, this is fundamentally important for us, people live there and complain about the quality of the roads. We are also building a road around Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk to remove freight transport from the city; next year we will launch the first phase.

– What about your international cooperation?

– Complete order. Almost everything we produce – 99% – is exported. Even a person who cooks borscht in a cauldron at some field also works for export. Because all this is export earnings. We not only fill the budget of Sakhalin, but to a greater extent fill the budget of the Russian Federation. We are also glad that Sakhalin is a significant region for Russia.

And, by the way, we love Komsomolskaya Pravda! There is a branch of Komsomolskaya Pravda on Sakhalin. The guys who work there, I know them well, we invite them to different projects. Very creative team. Let’s cooperate.

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