President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon,
Mr Abdulatipov, naturally we will talk about the republic, about your assessment of the current situation and future prospects, what was accomplished during the brief period you have been Acting Head of Daghestan, and what you see as your next tasks and goals.
Acting Head of Daghestan Ramazan Abdulatipov: Mr President, in accordance with the directives you issued at my appointment, the republic is working on various reforms. Clean-up and renewal processes are underway in all fields.
If I were to characterise the findings very briefly, I would say that Daghestan was fed, but not taken care of, and therefore a lot of bad cells have multiplied.
Secondly, Daghestan was fed, but its development was not fostered. It is virtually impossible to find a single institution or source working towards developing the republic. Therefore, we concluded that we need a fundamentally new development strategy.
I’m not here to ask the President for funding for current expenses. If there are any such requests, they will be aimed at ensuring the region’s long-term development.
In accordance with your May 2012 executive orders, we have elaborated ten development priorities for the region. If these priority programmes are implemented – there are both one-year and three-year programmes – then in seven to eight years we will be able to actually triple the size of Daghestan’s economy. Consequently, Daghestan must cease to be a problem region for Russia, but rather be an effective and stable one.
Vladimir Putin: What do you see as the main vectors of development?
Ramazan Abdulatipov: First of all, ensuring the republic’s security. To achieve this, we are currently drafting the Safe Daghestan programme together with the FSB, Interior Ministry and other agencies. We must take a completely new approach, not just increasing a military presence and so on, but by introducing modern technology, providing the requisite equipment and analysing the situation in the republic.
The second area – what I call new industrialisation – involves analysing the current state of manufacturing companies, renovating and sometimes actually building new enterprises.
And third: removing out-of-date enterprises from city centres. In particular, Makhachkala is so overcrowded with these that there is no room for normal infrastructure. So we must clear out old industrial sites, and organise playgrounds, parks and so on.
We also consider agriculture to be one of our main ladders for climbing out of the crisis. In the early 1990s, Daghestan grew 380,000 tonnes of grapes. Today we produce 100,000 tonnes during the very best years. In addition, virtually every hectare of vineyard creates four to five jobs. In the coming years we are planning to cultivate more than 5,000 hectares, and this means that more than 20,000 people will be employed there.
Vladimir Putin: This is in addition [to already existing vineyards]?
Ramazan Abdulatipov: Yes, in addition.
We can establish greenhouse farms. I spoke with the Defence Minister about feeding troops with food from Daghestan, fresh food, vegetables and so on. He answered: “If it’s year-round, then I’m for it.” So we have to provide it year-round.
There is a whole number of other directions [for development]. Naturally, at the end of the day all these priority projects must result in a new level of education, a new level of culture, and a new quality of life.
Of course, one priority direction indispensable to everything else concerns personnel training and candidate pools. In fact, we’ve had a situation in which many people could not get jobs, so they relocated to other Russian regions and settled down there. Today it is very difficult to find well-trained, creative personnel. And we are conducting a huge amount of work in this respect too.
Vladimir Putin: This is very important: people must have prospects.
How would you assess the current situation? First and foremost, I am referring to social indicators such as education, healthcare and wage levels?
Ramazan Abdulatipov: In accordance with your executive orders, we were able to ensure the target level of salaries for teachers, which meant a raise of 14.8%. While modernising healthcare we made sure wages increased accordingly. When I arrived in office, it turned out that increases in wages had been delayed for a few months. I made sure these calculations were made again and everyone was paid the outstanding wages they should have received following your orders.
I think that in general the budget of the Russian Federation provides sufficient funding for the normal functioning of our healthcare, education and other systems. Provided that the officials overseeing the spending of budgetary funds have honest and impeccable motives.
Recently we received an additional sum of about 2 billion rubles [$60 million] from the federal budget, and we are going to build more than 20 kindergartens. Sometimes there is no need to build new facilities, when the existing buildings can be employed. I recently visited a neighbourhood where people started talking about kindergartens. Many people from that neighbourhood work in the Stavropol Territory, as well as other regions. I said: “Who has a free house?” A woman stood up and said: “I have a two-storey house.” “How many children can you take in?” “20.” “What work do you do?” “I’m a teacher.” So I said: “I appoint you kindergarten director; we will start a kindergarten for 20 children in your home.”
Let me emphasise again that a great deal can be done if we act honestly, above board and with dedication, always thinking about people’s interests. And the most important result is that in the past months we managed to restore people’s trust in the authorities – both at the federal and primarily at the republican level. Today levels of trust are quite high. Therefore, we must work accordingly in order to maintain them.