Governor of the Astrakhan region: I forgot to tell the President that we have grown a record crop of watermelons – with the taste of childhood

Governor of the Astrakhan region Igor Babushkin.  Photo: Mikhail Klimentyev / Press Service of the President of the Russian Federation / TASS

Governor of the Astrakhan region Igor Babushkin. Photo: Mikhail Klimentyev / Press Service of the President of the Russian Federation / TASS

On Wednesday, July 27, the head of the Astrakhan region reported to the President of Russia on the development of the region, including in the field of agricultural production and the construction sector.

Immediately after that, a journalist from Komsomolskaya Pravda called Igor Babushkin …

… – Igor Yuryevich, have you already left the Kremlin and got into the car?

– Yes.

– May I ask you a couple of questions?

– Let’s.

– I carefully watched on television, read the report on your meeting with the president on the website. I have this habit, I always call my heroes and ask – what happened behind closed doors? Like – you usually tell me about it. And my heroes answer me – I never tell you this, but they still say something.

– Actually, Alexander, there are no secrets.

We discussed in more detail the socio-economic situation in the region and the structure of the budget.

I separately reported that over the past three years we have succeeded in growing the regional budget – by 29%, and reduced the public debt. We discussed in great detail our relations with the Caspian states and the prospects for the development of the Volga-Caspian Canal.

I separately thanked Vladimir Vladimirovich for the decisions made – already in the final version – that by the end of next year the depth will be dug (that is, increased. – A.G.) along the entire length of the Volga-Caspian Canal. And this opens up for us and our partners in the Caspian very serious prospects for the transit of goods using vessels with a large cargo capacity.

– And I was also interested in the message that direct flights are being opened between Astrakhan and Iran – on July 31, a plane from Iranian Rasht will land at the international airport named after. B.N. Kustodiev.

– Yes.

– Is it somehow connected with the visit of Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin to Tehran?

– You know, in fact, the issue was worked out much earlier and we have been in the active phase of negotiations with Iran for a long time.

In general, we communicate very closely with all the Caspian states.

I have already had two meetings with the heads of Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan in a year.

I have already been to Tehran twice in a year. A delegation from Tehran came to visit us, we are building our economic and humanitarian ties quite closely, so this is a planned story.

– Very interesting. And right there, in my opinion, some kind of special agreement on the maintenance of our aircraft is being signed these days. There in Iran.

– I can’t say anything about that.

– But there, at a meeting with the president, one of such minuses, or something, although it can hardly be called a minus – this is all over Russia. In short, it was about the problem of emergency housing in your area. Here it is necessary to somehow reduce the volume of “emergency gang”.

– Yes, I reported to the President six months ago and now – about how we are implementing this program. It is designed until 2024, but we will complete it until 2023. We will complete the program by the end of this year and will be ready to formulate and prove the need for financing the next program to relocate people from dilapidated housing.

You, Alexander, when you visited us three years ago, were able to make sure that this task is one of the main ones.

– Yes, you said. But with Sergei Stepashin, chairman of the Board of Trustees, and Konstantin Tsitsin, general director – these are the heads of the former housing and communal services fund, now – the Territorial Development Fund – have you adjusted your plans, agreed?

– Yes of course…

– That is, you work with them.

– We interact constructively, yes.

– Understood. For some reason, I didn’t see anything about watermelons in the reports of your meeting with the president. Well, it was about agricultural products, everything is fine with you there, but did the president specifically ask you about watermelons?

– With watermelons in general, everything is fine.

– That’s why the president didn’t ask you and you didn’t tell him anything?

Yes, I missed it, to be honest. Of course, it was necessary to report on watermelons as well. But everything is in order with melons, we are invariably restoring seed production, technologies for growing watermelons, we are reviving the taste that everyone is familiar with in childhood.

And what’s more, I can say that starting this year we will become the exclusive supplier of watermelons to agricultural fairs in Moscow.

– Oh cool! Finally.

– Therefore, we wait.

Right now, this year’s harvest is ripening, and I think that Astrakhan watermelons will appear in Moscow in the near future.

– And what taste is familiar from childhood? What is the taste of Astrakhan watermelons? In order not to confuse, when will we buy?

– You won’t confuse him with anything. Because Astrakhan watermelons are special.

– I mean, well, what does it taste like? Happiness, love, I don’t know what else..

– Sweet taste. Aroma and smell.

– Well, let’s put it right in the headline then, that I forgot to tell the president about watermelons, but Komsomolskaya Pravda corrected this. How many watermelons will you grow?

– I now find it difficult to say the exact figure.

– Well approximately.

– I won’t even try. If you want, I can consult and send it to you.

– Yes, maybe a text message.

– Let’s.

– Yes, it’s not necessary by the piece, but how much in tons, in thousands of tons …

– Well, Alexander, I was very glad to hear from you.

– Yes, mutually, Igor Yurievich. I remember all my heroes. Yeah … That is, usually they always tell us that these are Astrakhan watermelons, we never believe, but now we have to believe, yes, that this is … really, from you.

– Well, you can’t go wrong. If the watermelon is delicious, then Astrakhan.

– Okay.

– Thanks a lot.


You give 340 thousand tons of real Astrakhan watermelons!

An hour later I received an SMS from Igor Babushkin:

“Sowing crops for melons – 8 thousand hectares;

Collected for today – 35 thousand tons;

The planned collection is 340 thousand tons.”

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