President Vladimir Putin held a meeting with the Russian Federation Security Council in expanded format. Taking part in the meeting were Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov, Chairman of the Federation Council Sergei Mironov, Chairman of the State Duma Boris Gryzlov, Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Sergei Sobyanin, First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov, Secretary of the Security Council Igor Ivanov, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Director of the Federal Security Service Nikolai Patrushev, Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev, and Director of the Foreign Intelligence Service Sergei Lebedev.
Also taking part in the meeting were Chairman of the Central Bank Sergei Ignatiev, Chief of the Armed Forces’ General Staff and First Deputy Defence Minister Yury Baluyevsky, Transport Minister Igor Levitin, and Information Technology and Communications Minister Leonid Reiman.
Mr Putin began the meeting with the following words:
“Good afternoon, colleagues,
Today I would like to discuss a number of domestic and international issues with you. Of the domestic issues on the agenda I would specifically note interethnic relations, and as far as the international issues go, we will of course talk today about the situation with our relations with Georgia.
Russia is consistently fulfilling all its commitments under the terms of the agreements between our countries on the withdrawal of Russian military units from Georgian territory, but despite this fact, as we know, our military servicemen in Georgia have been seized and thrown in prison in what looks like a sign of continuation of the policies of Lavrenty Pavlovich Beria, both inside the country and on the international stage. Well, such, it seems, is their position.
They are clearly trying to pinch Russia where it hurts most, to provoke us. I think this is evident. From all appearances, those who are doing this seem to think that an anti-Russian foreign policy will serve the interests of the Georgian people. I do not think this is the case. These people think that they can feel at ease, safe and secure under the protection of their foreign sponsors, but is this really so?
I would like to hear the views of the representatives of the civil ministries and the military specialists.
There are, it seems, forces out there who simply specialise in creating ever new crisis situations, imagining that this will divert attention from old problems. This tactic can probably have an effect in the short term, but what is certain is that it will be of absolutely no help in resolving old and quite serious crises in the world”.
The President intends holding consultations over the coming week with the political parties represented in the State Duma and with the leadership of the Federation Council in connection with the Georgian leadership’s action.
Mr Putin instructed the Defence Ministry to continue the withdrawal of Russian troops stationed on Georgian territory in accordance with the timetable drawn up, despite the current situation.