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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Kadyrov, keeping to tradition, let’s look above all at the socioeconomic situation in the region. I’ve looked at the latest figures of course. Overall, they look quite good, but as usual, there are still a lot of problems too. Let’s discuss the work done so far and look at your upcoming priorities.
Head OF THE REPUBLIC OF CHECHNYA RAMZAN KADYROV: Mr President, thank you for finding the time to meet.
As far as the political and social situation in the republic goes, it is stable and there are no signs of impending complications of any sort. As for the socioeconomic situation, the dynamic has been positive so far this year.
Over the first half of the year, local production comes to a total value of more than 20 billion rubles [more than $600 million]. This represents a 105-percent increase on last year’s figure. We produced industrial goods worth more than 1 billion rubles, which represents an increase of 172 percent. The republic’s budget has received 5.5 billion rubles in local revenues since the start of the year. This is an increase of more than 102 percent.
We are carrying out your May  executive orders in accordance with the roadmaps. We are also in the process of updating the tax base, which has increased local tax revenue five-fold. The tax base is also increasing through loan resources and extra-budgetary private investment.
We are carrying out electricity sector projects worth 5 billion rubles this year. These projects include producing electricity meters, construction of facilities to produce composite supports, and construction of a plant to manufacture self-standing insulation wires.
We also have results in the agriculture and food processing sectors. We invested 3 billion rubles this year in a meat-processing plant, a dairy plant, and a plant to produce babies’ food.
We have good results in the construction sector too – 6.5 billion rubles. Projects here include a technology park, a brick-making plant, a cement plant and others. In short, investment attractiveness has improved considerably.
The social sector is one of our constant priorities. This ensures stability in society. Unemployment levels are dropping steadily.
Mr President, as you said, we do have problems, and we cannot solve them on our own. We always turn to the country’s President as someone who pays great attention to Chechnya.
Vladimir Putin: What is the unemployment level at the moment?
Ramzan Kadyrov: To be honest, it’s 23 percent. When you first appointed me, unemployment was at 70 percent, and the total consolidated budget came to only 9 billion rubles. Now we have brought unemployment down to 23 percent.
Vladimir Putin: It’s a positive trend.
Ramzan Kadyrov: Yes, we have a positive trend, and if we keep to our plans, we will reach our goal of eliminating unemployment within the next five years.
Vladimir Putin: What’s the situation in the education sector like now?
Ramzan Kadyrov: Overall, in the education sector, we show things as they are and are not trying to add to the numbers or make our results look better than they really are, pass results in the national final school exam, for example. We are lagging behind everyone else in the general picture, and we do not try to hide this. We are working with parents and students, explaining the tasks and the need to work to these plans and get an education.
Vladimir Putin: Mr Kadyrov, under the education system modernisation programme, we sent federal funds to the regions for repairing and equipping schools and so on. Has this work been carried out, and what are the results?
Ramzan Kadyrov: In general, regarding the education sector modernisation work, we are at a decent level and do not have any problems here. The only problem area is with preschool education. We are in the process of building 14 schools, and if we complete this work then we will not have any serious problems in this sector.
Vladimir Putin: Are there many schools where children have to study in three shifts?
Ramzan Kadyrov: There are 13–14 such schools if I remember correctly.
Vladimir Putin: Take a closer look at the situation.
Ramzan Kadyrov: I do not remember the exact figures. I spoke with the minister and he said that there are problems, but we are trying to sort out this issue on our own. I think that with the help from the Southern Russia programme and the programme for developing the North Caucasus Federal District we will resolve these problems and will not have any problems in the social sector.
Vladimir Putin: You mentioned agriculture. What results do you forecast for this year?
Ramzan Kadyrov: Mr President, everyone always looks back to the Soviet period, when 70 percent of the republic’s population was employed in agriculture. We have signed agreements with everyone we can in this area, including with Turkey and Israel. I met with representatives of an Israeli company that has a lot of new and interesting technology to offer. We are starting to develop its use in Chechnya. I think we will be able to get the agriculture sector up to a good level over the coming five years. We want to set an example in this sector. Agriculture is vital for running the republic. We talk about industry and other sectors, but if we fail to give agriculture our full attention we will not be able to keep the republic running. This is the main area for our job creation efforts.