– My dear Viceminister, what should I do then?
– You already know what must be done, Andrei Viktorovich.
– But this project is somewhat different, it requires a special attention from the Ministry to remove the legal troubles; the benefits to the region will be exceptional.
– Not only to the region, Andrei Viktorovich.
– Of course, this project will provide energy to large isolated areas in the Far East region, the less populated in the country.
– I agree, Andrei Viktorovich, but you know that the President is focusing the economy into renewables and energy efficiency, and your project is too coal intensive, and this region is the wildest Russia’s natural reserve. No way. You know what it takes to get the green light.
– Are you telling me that a few seagulls and bears are now more important than my project and the benefits that it could imply to all of us, Mr. Viceminister? Where is this country going to? We are losing the perspective of what really matters.– My dear Andrei Viktorovich, times are changing, you should know it, and these new laws are for everyone, they are for our future.
– But it is too much, and you know that only GasTrust is present in that region and their projects are as traditional as mine; where is the sustainable development here in this case?
Or is it maybe because of GasTrust that my project is getting banned in the Prime Minister’s desk?
– My dear Andrei Viktorovich, you know that the Far East and Kamchatka are our country’s bioreserves and our lungs. It is not just about a seagull.
You know that this summer’s fires have helped to accelerate and increase the President’s belief in the need to promote the renewable energies all over the country.
Even more, also our dear Vladimir Vladimirovich made a tour in Kamchatka and the Far East and was horrified by the perpetual ice melting and the increase of temperature a couple of degrees after the fires and the torrid summer, the hottest in the last two centuries.
– Viceminister, don’t tell me stories. You and I, as anyone with means, were far from Moscow this summer, and a warmer climate will not be too bad for a couple of seagulls in the Far East, where only hunters, adventurers and GasTrust dear to go… What are you telling me?
– I am telling you, Andrei Viktorovich, that things are changing, and now it is not so easy to get projects approved, since this song about energy efficiency is sounding in every radio or TV broadcast.
– But you had told me in the beginning…
– That was in the beginning, three years ago…
– Viceminister, our holding is one of the biggest in Russia, and you know that our main shareholder has always supported the gouvernmental party.
– I know it very well, Andrei Viktorovich, and there is no need to repeat it. On the other hand you know that GasTrust is beyond our scope and only depends on the Prime Minister’s authority, so there is no point to compare.
– I am sure that our dear Vladimir Vladimirovich would agree with me about the benefits of our project to the region, to the country, to the Gouvernment’s economical development policy, and to all of us. Moreover, Mr. Viceminister, I am sure that you know about our plans to create a special fund to protect the local flora and fauna, so that your seagulls will be fine. And to avoid misunderstandings, we want Vladimir Vladimirovich to become the President of this Foundation, and he will be empowered with the control of the budget and the decision of what protection programs should be undertaken.
– You see, my dear Andrei Viktorovich, now you start to understand what it is all about, but…
– Let me finish, my dear Viceminister, as we guess that the Prime Minister will be very busy to be in charge on a daily basis, we think that you could be of much value as assisting staff to the Foundation, and we have assigned as well part of the budget to your task, including some concepts very necessary to the good end of the fund, such as supervising trips and financial and accounting control, that will be in your hands.
– You honour me, my dear Andrei Viktorovich. I think that this Foundation will help to convince our President and his counsellors about the suitability of your project. I am sure that they will withdraw their inconvenients and will unban your project.
– Mr. Viceminister, will you inform then to the Prime Minister?
– My dear Andrei Viktorovich, I think the wisest thing is to follow the traditional channels. You should inform personally the Prime Minister and he will decide finally. What I can do is to book a seat at a near table in the next reception held in the Kremlin; I think it will be some event related to the Savings Russian Bank (SaviRBank), the unofficial economic arm of the Gouvernment as you know too well. There you will have the opportunity to talk to the Vicepresident for Economic Development of the SaviRBank, and they can participate and will help you to get the project moving on. I know… you already had in your draft everything arranged with a foreign bank, but you must understand the importance of the fact that a bank like SaviRBank takes part in such a sensitive project…
And once you will have the Prime Minister and SaviRBank engaged with the project, there is nothing that the President’s Office can say against. Even less with your Fund for the Protection of the Seagulls and Bears…
– …Foundation for the protection of the Flora and Fauna in the Far East…
– …of course, of course… This is sustainable development somehow, isn’t it?
– Mr. Viceminister, but the President seems to be genuinely concerned about the promotion of renewables and energy efficiency in the next 10 years in the country’s economy…
– As we all are, believe me, my dear Andrei Viktorovich. And in ten years, who will be here? These laws are conceived for medium and small companies, and maybe in the future it will be feasible to apply them to the large kombinats (or trusts, if you prefer the Western name) like yours or GasTrust. But let’s start step by step, and your fund for the seagulls is a good starting point. I am sure that Vladimir Vladimirovich will agree about how profitable it will be for the region and, in general, for all of us.
– So, Mr. Viceminister, can you get me an invitation for that event, so that I could talk to Vladimir Vladimirovich for a few minutes at least, and present him the idea?
– Sure, but I am sure that you already know the tariffs. At least, have in mind that if you had a face-to-face meeting it would cost you almost seven digits… This is much more convenient, and you can save something to start the Foundation sooner. I will be very eager to help you to setup the Foundation.
So, my dear Andrei Viktorovich, I have allowed myself to order some Russian champagne to make a toast to the success of your (our) project.
– To us and to the good ending of our project and Foundation, my dear Viceminister!
– To the seagulls, my dear Andrei Viktorovich!
(P.S.: This is a extract of a manuscript by Anton Antonovich Liesky, whose amazing story can be found here).
Nota a pie de página del diario de Lieski:
Esta “osada gamberrada en forma de cuento” es mi propuesta para el Concurso de relatos cortos sobre desarrollo sostenible de Abengoa. Pretende reflejar de forma historiada, ficticia aunque realista, las vicisitudes de intentar poner en marcha proyectos de energías renovables y eficiencia energética en un país como Rusia.
El otro relato, “El hombre que no podía soñar”, fue mi primera propuesta, mucho más fantasiosa e idealista, pero excedía (en mucho) los límites permitidos para el relato. Por eso decidí escribir este otro en inglés que, en cierto modo, se enmarca en el anterior, y sin embargo es totalmente contrapuesto y antitético al primero en muchos aspectos, como el yin y el yang. Que cada cual escoja el que más le guste.