In an interview with the main federal TV channel, the acting president expressed his opinion on the social and political situation in the country and talked about his conversation with the first Russian president, Boris Yeltsin, on December 31.
There is no possibility of resolving economic and social problems in a disintegrating state, therefore there is nothing unusual in the Russian leadership’s attention to the problem of terrorism, Mr Putin said. He said that this was why, after taking over as president from Boris Yeltsin, he did not abandon his plans to go to Chechnya that he had announced three months before the New Year. The acting president said he wanted all servicemen on duty in the North Caucasus and the locals to know that solving all the serious problems of the Chechen Republic was a state priority. He added that people should not fear a return of the insurgents; they should know that Russia would never leave [Chechnya].
Commenting on the resignation of the first Russian president, Mr Putin said that, when leaving the Kremlin on December 31, Boris Yeltsin said to those around him, “Take care of Russia.” These were simple words said in a kind and human way, the acting president said, and he added that though the last day of the old year was not easy [for Yeltsin], he carried himself well.
Mr Putin expressed the hope that after his resignation, the first Russian president would have something to do that was worthy of him. Speaking about Mr Yeltsin’s plans for the near future, Mr Putin noted that his forthcoming Christmas trip to Bethlehem would be a good gesture for the country and the world.