During the meeting, Mr Putin informed Mr Kadyrov of his decision to name him acting head of the Republic of Chechnya.
* * *
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Kadyrov, let’s start the meeting with the traditional questions – the socioeconomic situation in Chechnya.
We meet regularly, but things change fast and I would like to hear again about last year’s results and discuss how work is going this year. The first quarter is nearly over, after all. Perhaps we could also take a retrospective look at what has been accomplished over these last years. Please, go ahead.
Head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov: Mr President, thank you for this meeting.
In 2007, when you entrusted me with managing the republic and its economy, you put the emphasis on security back then, as always, and then on economic development and resolving social issues.
In 2007, we had 157 murder attempts [against law enforcement personnel], and 56 law enforcement officers were killed. There were 56 illegal armed groups, of which 14 were of a terrorist nature.
Now, we had not a single murder attempt in 2015 and not a single law enforcement officer was killed in special operations carried out. At the same time, 19 gunmen were killed and around 50 arrested. The number of people in these groups comes to 40–50 people.
On the subject of unemployment, in 2007, it stood at 76 percent, but today it is 12.1 percent. We have built 1,400 social facilities: schools, kindergartens, hospitals. We have built housing too, 1,308 homes, and have rebuilt 6,500 square metres of housing (I might be slightly out in the figures).
We have built and paved around 500 kilometres of roads and 2,500 kilometres of utilities networks. Investment has increased by 148 percent and is now at 270 billion, and we have another 174 projects underway worth a total of 260 billion rubles. The republic’s own revenues have increased several-fold.
Overall, the situation is very positive in Chechnya today. People realise that the course that you and our first President, the hero Akhmad Kadyrov, chose was the right course and that we are now resolving all of our big social issues and the economy is growing steadily.
I think that we have more or less coped with the tasks before us. I also want to say that my term in office ends on April 5 and it is up to you to decide who will be acting head of the republic. We have no serious problems now in the republic. If you have instructions or comments, we will try to carry them out in full.
Vladimir Putin: Ramzan, let me say a few words.
When you took the helm, the republic was in a devastated state. The devastation was internal and external. We know what state the social sector was in, and how all the tragic events in the North Caucasus, especially in Chechnya, impacted on people’s lives.
Our priority, and the priority set by the first President of Chechnya, was to raise people’s living standards and ensure their security. Chechnya has very talented and hardworking people who want above all to build and create, and who care about the life of their republic, Russia in general, and their children. This is the most important task for any regional leader in Russia, and, of course, for the head of the Republic of Chechnya too.
I know that Chechnya has been transformed over these last years. We see this with our own eyes. This is a clear fact. The transformations are not just external. Where we once saw devastation, towns and villages in ruins, we now see flourishing places, and this is no exaggeration. We see towns and villages in which people live comfortable, convenient lives. We see ever more beautiful new buildings that are the pride of not just Chechnya and the Caucasus, but all of Russia too. Social life and sport are developing.
I see how much time and attention you personally give these things. New hospitals and kindergartens are opening. These are certainly basic tasks for any leader, including you. You have accomplished much in Chechnya, but there is still a lot of work to do.
You said that you are fighting unemployment, but we know what a serious problem this is, especially youth unemployment. More work needs to be done in this area, more work at the informal level too. You are good at this. I can say this quite frankly. I’ve said to you before that it was even something of a surprise to me that you, someone with quite different aims in life, suddenly turned into a good manager.
Ramzan Kadyrov: You made this of me, Mr President.
Vladimir Putin: This is people of Chechnya’s demand, and you meet this demand.
What I wanted to draw to your attention is the need for closer cooperation with the federal authorities, especially on security matters. Yes, Chechnya really has become a safe place for our citizens, for the republic’s people, and your efforts have contributed to achieving this. Chechnya is perhaps an even safer place than some other parts of Russia.
Ramzan Kadyrov: A survey of 330,000 people in Russia showed that people think Chechnya is the safest republic in the country.
Vladimir Putin: This is a very, very good result.
You need to pay more attention to contact with the federal authorities. You and the republic’s future leader will have to make every effort to ensure compliance with Russian law in all areas of life. I stress this point – in all areas of life.
Your mandate ends on April 5, as you said. Given what you have done these past years for Chechens, for the republic’s people, and in a wider sense for the whole of Russia, I have signed an executive order appointing you Acting Head of the republic with the hope that you will take part in the election in September. I hope that the people of Chechnya will be able to assess the worth of all you have done for the republic during the election campaign and the election itself.
Let me say again though, that we cannot rest on our laurels. We must look to the future. We know that we can and must do more for our people, you too. I wish you success.
Ramzan Kadyrov: Mr President, thank you very much for your trust and for your assessment.
We held a meeting to mark Republic of Chechnya Constitution Day. You remember that our first President entrusted the people of Chechnya with voting on a constitution at what was a very difficult time for our republic. Thirteen years have passed since then. Many people came out for the event, practically the whole republic, came to show that they are loyal to the course chosen by President Vladimir Putin, and that our republic will never face any more military campaigns and will never again be home to terrorism and extremism.
Elderly people, respected people, mothers who lost their sons on both sides, all came to say with a single voice that the situation in the republic today and the attention they receive from the federal authorities is what they and their children dreamed of. I think this is a good result and a big victory. We have stayed faithful to the course chosen by you and Akhmad Kadyrov. We can see this by the way that 13 years later, people came out of their own accord to say that they support this course.
Thank you for your trust. We will try to live up to your hopes and serve with all our faith and truth. I hope we will not let you down, Mr President.
Vladimir Putin: This was just what Akhmad Kadyrov dreamed of, and it was for this that he gave his life.
Ramzan Kadyrov: Thank you, Mr President.