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2018 June 25

Victor Olersky: 9 years at the helm of the industry

Mr. Victor Olersky resignation from the office of Deputy Minister of Transport, head of Rosmorrechflot was accepted by the Russian Government as of June 21, 2018. Overall, those nine years that Victor Olersky was at the helm of the Transportation Ministry and two and a half years as the head of Rosmorrechflot have been fruitful in terms of considerable number of adopted regulations and tangible results for the sector: the fleet under the Russian flag has become significantly younger, the safety of navigation has improved, new port expansion projects have been implemented, shipping on the Northern Sea Route has recovered, the maritime training system has been reformed, and Russia’s position has gained traction in the discussions within the IMO.

Victor Olersky was invited in the summer of 2009 to join senior executive team of the Russian Transportation Ministry. At that time, the Minister of Transport Igor Levitin had no deputy executive to tackle the unresolved issues in the Russian ports and shipping sector that had accumulated since 2009.

His appointment order (N1043-r) was signed on July 30, 2009 by the then Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Viktor Olersky was entrusted with the federal policy in the field of seaborne and river transportation and the federal targeted programs related to these sectors. That appeared to be quite a challenging task at the time as the changes required in the sector specific legislation were long overdue.

Transport enterprises stakeholders generally approved the appointment of a specialist from shipping business as deputy minister in the Ministry of Transport. Many people believed that Victor Olersky could combine efforts of the authorities and the shipping community. Being a high professional in the sea-going and river transport sector, capable of setting tasks and insisting on fulfillment of objectives, this new senior executive had managed to do a lot within the first two years working in the ministry.

Victor Olersky was one of the draftsmen of the law "On Measures to Support Domestic Shipping and Shipbuilding" (Federal Law-305). The law granted several preferences and eventually stimulated the renewal of domestic fleet, speed up the transition of ships to the Russian flag registry and, at the same time, gave a boost to Russian shipbuilding sector. Later, with the support of the shipping business and in close cooperation with Russian shipbuilding enterprises, Mr. Victor Olersky initiated a successful inter-sectoral dialogue aimed at renewal of the Russian commercial fleet. As a result of this work, a number of measures required today to support shipbuilding have been adopted: loans and leasing interest rate subsidies, ship recycling subsidy programme.

Yet another quite a groundbreaking law, initiated by Victor Olersky, was the amendment to the Code of Inland Water Transport, which simplified the entry into Russian rivers for foreign-flagged boats and yachts. With regard to commercial navigation on Russia’s inland waterways of ships flying foreign flags, the ammended regulation made it possible within bilateral intergovernmental agreements that do not require ratification.

Under the leadership of deputy transportation minister Viktor Olersky, work was carried out to draft a law on navigation along the Northern Sea Route. First of all, the bill included the re-establishment of the Authority of the Northern Sea Route, which was actually disbanded in 2004 with its powers transferred to a small department of Rosmorrechflot . In addition to the authority, the Ministry created rules for shipping along the Northern Sea Route and granted clear tariff conditions for navigation in the region.

Victor Olersky led the work on the preparation of amendments to the bill on the ‘short sea shipping’ meaning extension in the Code of Merchant Shipping, securing cargoes for Russian flagged coastal ships transporting hydrocarbons in the basin of the Northern Sea Route.

During Mr. Olersky's tenure as deputy minister, he supervised construction works in the Port of Sabbeta and launched the project of integrated development of the Murmansk Transportation Hub. Besides, he laid the groundwork for the project of new deepsea Port of Taman in Russia’s southern region. In the last couple of years, the documentation package for the construction of new hydro-engineering facilities on the country’s inland waterways, namely Bagaevsky and Nizhegorodsky, has been finalized. By order of Victor Olersky the Strategy for the development of Russian marine ports infrastructure for the period until 2030 and the Strategy for the development of inland water transport have been prepared.

The seaports operation has been a priority of the every day agenda of the deputy minister since his appointment to the public services post. Victor Olersky established close working relationship with the Federal Customs Service and with the FSB’s Border Guard Department, expediting customs procedures for cargo / ship clearance in seaports. As deputy transportation minister he managed to submit important amendments to the law on seaports, including those aimed at streamlining relations between marine terminals operators and railway carriers. In this area, work was carried out to regulate property and land relations in seaports, the procedure for creating a seaport, forming and changing its borders. The updated law provides for an infrastructure collection system for the off-budget development of seaports.

The period of work in the Ministry of Transport was emotionally draining for Victor Olersky. He had to focus and handle a lot of challenging situations, assuming all responsibility, finding ways to tackle them. In the summer of 2011, when the “Bulgaria” passenger boat tragedy occurred on the Volga with more than a hundred people death toll, Viktor Olersky headed the headquarters for the hoisting of the sunken passenger ship from the river. It was a hard experience, emotionally but Victor Olersky was able to draw the right conclusions from the catastrophe. He prepared and implemented a comprehensive reform of inland water transport public administration.

Later, the ministry reformed the harbour master management system and the State Marine Rescue and Salvage Service. Much attention was paid to the higher education institutions of the sector with several mergers of the educational institutions, and the Russian system of marine training became compliant with international conventions.

As deputy transportation minister Victor Olersky successfully conducted international negotiations, authoritatively represented the position of the Russian Federation within the IMO. Some bilateral agreements have been signed on the recognition of diplomas and on maritime navigation with a number of states and some issues have been settled on navigation in the Bering Strait with the United States.

During the nine-year tenure, Mr. Victor Olersky became a real leader of the industry, authoritative, respected, able to make quick decisions that always achieve results. Of course, there are still unsolved issues, the field for the new leader's activities.

Nadezhda Malysheva.