The President stressed that he specially came to talk to local residents in order to discuss current problems prior to his meeting with Daghestan’s leadership.
The meeting was attended by members of the public, including from the Botlikh and Tsumadin districts of Daghestan.
* * *
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, friends.
As you already know, today we have agreed with the Republic’s leadership to talk about Dagestan’s progress and problems, as well as its goals for the near future. However, I wanted to meet with you before the official part of our working day.
I have known many of you for a long time. We are not intimate friends, and we cannot meet on a regular basis. But I know what kind of people you are. I know that those who have gathered here are not high-ranking officials or big bosses. I know that you are simply ordinary people from Dagestan who love their children and their families.
At the same time, you have no mercantile aspirations and are ever ready to lend a helping hand to the country, that is, Russia, as well as to your Republic, Dagestan, just as you did in the critical days when Dagestan and Russia were dealing with the attacks carried out by international terrorists. Your men took up arms to protect their homeland and their homes. I saw your women support their men.
I wanted very much to meet with you today at Botlikh or at Tsumadinsky District. Regrettably, helicopters are not a reliable means of transportation at this time of the year. We could fail to reach our destination or return, due to bad weather.
Nevertheless, I am glad to have this opportunity to meet with you here in Makhachkala. I would like you to tell me about the situation in your districts, including Botlikh and Tsumadinsky District, about your recent achievements and about your views on the overall situation in the republic.
Despite the problems – they are numerous and we will talk about them today, there must be some positive change, some movement forward. However, as I said, there are more problems than achievements.
I would like to know your impressions about the general situation in the republic. I know that you live in your own separate homes, but you can still sense the general mood and see what is happening in the republic. I would like to know your opinion about the situation and what else can be done to improve it in your districts.
I know what we have done recently here. I am referring to the expansion of the gas supply network, medicine – outpatient clinics in some districts and hospitals in others, as well as residential and construction and roads. I know about this. But I also know that there are always more unresolved issues than achievements.
One of your problems – I have looked up the information – is that Dagestan is 69th in terms of business appeal. This is a sign. What does it signify? You have wonderful people. They are kind, diligent and talented. Why are you 69th then?
Your agriculture grew by over 5 percent last year, compared to 2.4 percent across Russia. The growth rate in Dagestani agriculture was double the figure for Russia. And your industry grew by over 15 percent. The figure for the whole of Russia is only 1 percent. We know the reason for your industrial growth: it is due primarily to your defence sector. But what about other areas?
Anyway, we have much to talk about. I suggest that we start with the leaders of your two districts, and then everyone else will be free to speak as well.
What do I mean to say? I do not want to set too many goals for my region, since I think that this would not be the right way to go. Of course, there are problems in the region, and they did not emerge overnight. In fact, they have been piling up for years. Take school education, for example. This is quite a challenging issue, in fact very challenging. We have three school buildings in complete ruin. I even had to set up a classroom at a first aid station, you see?
However, Mr Vasilyev promised to help, and delivers on his promises. Since 2011, the region has not been getting any investment from the republic’s investment programme. But what about tax revenue? Where could it come from, how could we raise revenue from income tax or other taxes? We did not have any such revenue. I went to Mr Vasilyev and told him that the construction of the school had been underway since 2005. Of course, the design specifications and estimates had to be revised down a little bit, but we understand that this was intended to fight fraud. We got 53 million for the school, and it will be completed this year, in September.
The local administration used its own funds to open four kindergartens. And Mr Vasilyev can confirm that we did not ask for a single penny from the republic’s budget. We saved some money by cutting down spending and opened kindergartens for our children. We will do so again this year, even without any funding from the republic’s budget.
As for water, you know that there are issues with water supply networks in the district. Yes, we fix our own pipes in the region. We organise volunteer work days and use old-school methods, etc. But we have a water pipe that supplies water to four villages, a boarding school and four kindergartens. We need to resolve this issue. That said, I am well aware of the situation in the republic. So if you can help, please take a look at this request. In any case, whether you can help or not, thank you.
What else can I say? Mr Vasilyev, I would like to wish you every success, good health and take care of yourself. You are our national leader. You come from Daghestan, this is where your political journey begun.
Vladimir Putin: That is the way it was. It was in 1999. Absolutely true.
Anvargadzhi Vechedov: Good health to you too.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you.
It was a pleasure to hear positive feedback on the first months of Mr Vasilyev’s service as Head of the Republic. He may be uncomfortable to say this, but I can tell you: he has no personal interests in Daghestan, with one exception: he wants to bring prosperity to the region. I do not know whether I should be saying this, but he has no ties or connections here that could prevent him from doing an honest job.
Remark: This is what we were hoping for.
Vladimir Putin: Yes, this is something that really matters, you see?
Anvargadzhi Vechedov: I would like to ask you to help Mr Vasilyev in his efforts to do away with the clan structure of our society.
Vladimir Putin: I have to say that, as you know, corruption is, regrettably, a problem not only in Daghestan. You can see this. We have this problem in the north and in the east, as well as in the south and everywhere else.
I would like to say in this connection that corrupt officials not just line their pockets but they are doing this at the expense of such people as you. This is their biggest crime. They do not steal money from Mars or from Moscow; they steal from their own neighbours. This is what lies at the bottom of this problem.
I strongly hope that the new leadership, which is not burdened with undesirable obligations within the republic, will soon improve the situation, so that the officials at all levels of power work towards one goal and spend their time moving towards one goal, which is for the benefit of the people. This is the main reason why Mr Vasilyev has been appointed here.
At the same time, we have said today that there are very many upright, honest and business-like people in Daghestan. Mr Vasilyev should rely on local personnel in his work, and he must look for honest, upright and goal-oriented people, who will work and help to develop the republic.
Botlikh Region Head Magomed Patkhulayev: Mr President,
First of all, I would like to welcome you to Daghestan on behalf of all Botlikh residents.
You have said correctly that you are not a guest here. Botlikh residents say that Putin is their kunak, or friend. This word has a deep meaning. Botlikh residents remember two people who made their region prosperous and changed its outlook. One is Pyotr Pleshakov, the Soviet Union’s Minister of the Radio Industry. It was at his initiative that a plant was built in the region. It employed 1,800 women workers with an average pay package of up to 200 rubles. At that time, secretary of the regional party committee only received between 180 and 200 rubles.
Other construction projects were launched apart from the plant, and the regional infrastructure was modernised. We built 42 residential buildings, sports facilities as well as cultural centres. Botlikh residents remember and appreciate this and all of them to a man say, “Thank you, Mr Pyotr Pleshakov.” At the most difficult time for Daghestan, including Botlikh Region, when hostilities were at their highest, you addressed volunteer troops and civilians in the centre of Botlikh, giving them a boost and the hope that the country would get rid of the scum. You told us, “We will do everything necessary after we get rid of the bandits and terrorists.” You have kept your word. This is why Botlikh residents put you, Mr President, in the same league as Mr Pleshakov. The people of Botlikh have been looking forward to your visit because they wanted you to see how their region has changed. You would not recognise it.
Vladimir Putin: I will come again by all means.
Magomed Patkhulayev: Thank you, I will tell them.
Vladimir Putin: I would have come today, if it were not for the thick fog in the mountains.
Magomed Patkhulayev: Mr. President, all your instructions, as well as all the promises given by federal ministers, have been fulfilled 100 percent. We have upgraded the district hospital, and we are currently installing the most advanced high-tech equipment worth 215 million rubles there. This hospital is to become a diagnostic and treatment centre in Mountainous Daghestan.
For the past 100 years, we could not even dream that gas pipelines would be laid in the mountains at an altitude of 2,700 metres. Today, you have made life warm and cozy in Botlikh Region, and I would like to specially thank you for this.
I have already mentioned roads and tunnels. We have completely fulfilled your instructions to the Ministry of Construction, Housing and Utilities on building a block of flats for law enforcement officers, and the tenants have moved in. They have both hot and cold water and gas cookers, as well as a playground for children. We have accomplished everything in the region. When I spoke with people yesterday, they became divided on what to request from you, Mr. President. One of them stood up and said, “Look, you ought to be ashamed of yourselves. If he has come here, this means he knows well about the extra things we need.” Our people treat you like a relative, and not just kindly.
Of course, our large region that has a population of almost 60,000 and about 15,000 residents in the region’s capital sometimes faces major problems. Our people are hard working. Today, Botlikh Region produces more lamb than any other region in the republic. We have 270,000 sheep, and one village alone keeps 18,000 of them. Our mutton is rather special. Mutton from Daghestan’s Botlikh Region is sold in Moscow, St. Petersburg and all of the major cities. We have built a wonderful lamb processing facility using Italian technology. When you come to Botlikh, treat yourself to some of this food. There is nothing like it in the North Caucasus.
Of course, ours is an agrarian region. We have two plants. One of them functions smoothly and manufactures 27 types of produce, including tinned food, salads and juices. This kind of good food is also in high demand. Our apricots are the best in the world.
Most importantly, our people are wonderful and brave. You have seen this for yourself. A military unit is stationed in our area. I wrote to the Defence Ministry and to Mr. Vasilyev. Our highlanders have a request, and, after fulfilling this request, you would go down in the history of Botlikh Region and Daghestan as a man who transformed absolutely everything in this area.
A woman named Valentina is sitting right here. She arrived in the region as a young girl (teachers and doctors used to come back in the 1950s and the 1960s), got married, and she now has 11 children. How can I accommodate all these children? I would like to ask you for help and support: we need a cadet school and a Suvorov military school here. There are 12,000 young people aged between 14–30 in Botlikh Region, plus 10,600 children under the age of 14. Mr. President, we need a cadet school, and we have the entire infrastructure. You know more about a military cantonment, and I will not comment on this anymore. This is my first request.
My second request deals with the above-mentioned plant that is standing idle. We have mothballed all of its facilities and equipment. It would be good to start manufacturing something at this place, so that at least 300–350 people could get jobs there. Of course, it would be unrealistic to employ 1,800 workers there because such plants do not exist. But this particular plant should employ at least 300–350 workers. This would make it possible to create some jobs.
Vladimir Putin: This is a radio-electronics plant.
Magomed Patkhulayev: Yes.
By the way, am I talking too much?
Vladimir Putin: That is perfectly all right.
Magomed Patkhulayev: Earlier on, many highlanders enrolled at medical and teacher training universities. Doctors who had graduated in the 1960s and the 1970s were highly popular all over the Soviet Union. They are no longer in high demand. Today, good and promising schoolchildren, young hopefuls, do not want to enroll at teacher training universities. Mr. President, there will be no teachers in this area ten years from now. Our region is not prestigious, and local wages are low. But, of course, everything has now changed for the better after your May 2012 Executive Orders, and the situation will continue to change.
Today, we need doctors, as well as maths and physics teachers. We have one proper chemistry teacher. But there will be no one to teach chemistry here after he retires. I invite specialists, but there is no housing. Mountain areas have private homes alone, and plant workers have occupied all the flats. If this is not a problem, we need a block of flats, so that the district’s head would be able to sell or allot flats to specialists at his discretion. In addition to this, people with a 5–10-year work record should be able to privatise their flats. This would make it possible to attract specialists to our region.
We will resolve the matter concerning water with Mr. Vasilyev. Our water supply system was built 40 years ago. But we are not asking you to address these things, we will cope ourselves, I have written a letter, and it is possible to resolve these issues.
There is the issue of the waste sorting plant by the military township. The plant is outside the township but it only has four walls and a roof – there is nothing else. If there is even a light breeze, it is impossible to breathe in Botlikh Region and there are plastic bags up in the trees. We send people to take these bags down every week. I wrote frequently to the Defence Ministry and the Southern Military District, and every year they promise to deal with this issue next year. But the plant is listed as functioning, I looked into it.
This is why I wanted this issue to be discussed with Mr Vasilyev as well. I wrote a letter to the Defence Ministry asking it to transfer the plant to us so we could quickly put things in order. We wrote straight – if you do not want to deal with this, transfer it to us in its current condition. We will do everything and it will be nice, neat and civilized.
As for the public and political situation in the republic after the transfer of power, it is possible to read about this in the media. Officials will always say that everything is fine even if it is bad. I am a straightforward person and I say what I think. The mood of the people has changed. We spoke much about the clan system. This is too bad. Ordinary people, ordinary specialists cannot find a job. It is tough. Meanwhile someone with two degrees but no brains does find a job. Therefore, the first steps by Mr Vasilyev are welcomed by not only officials but also average people. But it is important to keep the pace.
I do not mean that people should be put behind bars. I mean that if someone has stolen something let them pay back to the state. Let them sit in prison until they return what they have stolen to the people and the state. Later on, let them start over from scratch and live normally.
Otherwise, there are no questions. We, regional governors wholeheartedly support your policy and not only today. Let me tell you again, I am speaking on my own behalf, on behalf of my region. You are our… (unintelligible). We will not allow anyone to spoil your mood. And we will conduct ourselves in a way that keeps you in a good mood.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you, Mr Patkhulayev.
I would like to follow up on some of the specific subjects you have mentioned. Your region must have a waste recycling plant. There is no doubt about that. We will think about it together with Mr Vasilyev in order to find the best way to do it. This could be done by the Republic and Botlikh Region. I think that this would be the best option that will also create jobs. This should be a cutting-edge, high-technology facility that makes the environment better instead of creating more pollution. This is a matter of financing and making administrative choices on who will own the plant. I believe that the best way to go about this would be for the Republic or the region to own the plant. This is probably the way we will proceed.
As for the cadet school, I do not know yet how this should be done, but I see what you mean. Something can and should be created. We will think about the best way of doing this.
Regarding the need to build a block of service flats, let us call it a deal. We will allocate the funds and you will do the building.
We need to work out the matter with this plant. I understand what you said. This is about jobs and pay packages. When I return to Moscow, I will issue instructions to the Government and the Industry Ministry. They will work something out. I have little doubt that they will come up with a solution.
And who will breed the sheep then? If everyone goes to the plant, who will breed the sheep? Will there be anyone left?
Remark: Yes. (laughter)
Vladimir Putin: We will work on this. I think that this is a very important factor for ensuring a normal environment. People must have jobs and a regular income. It is also true that it improves the overall level of technological development. We will work on it.
Go ahead, please.
Magomedkamil Shakhrudinov: My name is Magomedkamil Shakhrudinov. I am the Head Doctor at the Central Regional Hospital in Botlikh.
Welcome to Daghestan. It is a great joy to see you here. Meeting with the President is so exciting.
What do I have to say? I heard you when you announced on television that medical workers should not be considered as service personnel. You said that they needed support and assistance. The implementation of the May 2012 Executive Orders is on track, and the Health Ministry monitors the situation in the healthcare industry in this respect. Doctors already earn 43,000 rubles, while mid-level and junior staff make 20,000 rubles. Thank you for this positive support.
And yet another remark about the modernisation of our hospital: it is in progress, thank you very much, the federal programme has allocated 600 million rubles for the purpose. A fountain has been built on the premises for the first time at the insistence of our region’s head. A very nice-looking hospital it is too. Do come and see it.
Vladimir Putin: I have already been told about the fountain. I know about it.
Magomedkamil Shakhrudinov: And now about the development of health care as such. We pay attention to the main indicators: infant mortality – 4.8. Why do I quote this figure? Some five or ten years ago, it was skyrocketing to 15–16. People’s wellbeing has improved as has their diet. This is why infant mortality is declining.
Preventive examinations are being conducted too. What would I like to say about preventive examinations of adults and children? I will tell you what my opinion is and I have worked for a long time as head of Surgery (we have Presidential Citation for 2015).
What I would like to say about preventive examinations is this. The programme is very extensive and fine, because all of this is directed at health improvement, primarily at identifying diseases at an early stage. I have a proposal to make: we would like citizens themselves to be responsible for getting a preventive medical check-up, as is the case in several countries. This is practiced by many countries.
After six years of training plus three years of medical residency, nine years all in all, a doctor is always ready to help people. When a patient or a healthy person comes for a preventive check-up, he or she will do what is needed. A doctor is this sort of a person. But people should be responsible and come for a preventive check-up by themselves.
My request is to streamline this mechanism, if possible, as is the case in certain countries. For example, some countries would punish a person by cutting power supply to his or her house, to put it in crude terms, if they fail to turn up for a medical check-up. They know that there is no electricity at home, if they fail to turn up for a check-up. Accordingly, they would do it quickly and, most interestingly, do it as is right and proper – not just as a formality, but as is right and proper. This done, a message is sent to the power grid via an information system and the power supply is once again restored. But they must pay for both the switching off and switching on of the electricity.
The following year, therefore, a person would know that it is mandatory for him or her to get a preventive medical check-up. It is frustrating, when a healthy person is near you and you see them walking around, and all of a sudden this person has been diagnosed with fourth or third stage cancer. It is very, very sad, of course. Responsibility is needed.
And we also hope that, with your assistance or with someone else’s assistance, we will receive a computer tomography scanner for the Akhvakh, Tsumada and Botlikh regions. This would allow us to conduct medical checkups in remote areas.
Vladimir Putin: Does your hospital serve three regions?
Magomedkamil Shakhrudinov: No, we have three hospitals and a population of over 100,000. It would be great if we receive the scanner.
Remark: We need the equipment so people in the nearby areas can receive medical checkups.
Vladimir Putin: Don’t you have a tomography scanner?
Magomedkamil Shakhrudinov: We have everything except the scanner.
We are to receive equipment for laparoscopic surgery. Digital X-ray machines and a digital mammography machine were recently installed at an outpatient clinic. This is like a miracle for the mountain areas. There is nothing like this anywhere else. It is great. We will start using this equipment in a few days. Thank you very much for this.
I would like to add one more thing. If you will pardon me, I would like to express my opinion as a citizen, not as a doctor. What is the main achievement of our President? It is the safety of the citizen, the human being. Think of all the chaos around us… Thank you very much for our peaceful life, for the opportunity to live, eat, drink and go to work.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much.
Do your hospitals get high-quality equipment? Do you need anything else besides computer tomography scanners?
Magomedkamil Shakhrudinov: Our hospital has everything else. Thank you very much.
Vladimir Putin: All right, thank you.
Remark: Mr. President, I would like to say a few words on behalf of the women in our region. I am a deputy chairperson at the local women’s council. Our women asked me to greet you and wish you success in the upcoming election.
We are very grateful for your support. We are impressed by your special attention towards our republic and our region. Naturally, we will respond accordingly.
Women are now able to use gas. This fairytale has come true here. We could never have dreamed of such good roads. In the past 19 years, schools, kindergartens and sport facilities have been built, and jobs have been created. This is a great achievement for the highlanders. We wholeheartedly support the policy of our state that aspires to stability and friendly relations with all countries and states. Peaceful coexistence with other countries means a lot to me as a mother. Every mother worries about her children.
Today, we are preparing for the election. I did not want to raise this issue, but I want to say that, naturally, the entire region supports you. We should have no other choice because we know how it feels to be grateful. Many projects remain to be completed in the republic and the region; there are many problems, but we can see the attitude, perseverance and diligence. We are very diligent, and can respond adequately to the issues raised by our government. And we will do everything for the sake of Russia’s strength.
Thank you for everything. We wish you success in the election.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much. Thank you.
Omaraskhab Gazimagomedov: Mr President, this is my third meeting with you. The first time was in Botlikh, the second in the Kremlin and the third is now. I thought, could I really meet with President Putin for a third time? Thank you very much for liking our Daghestan and our mountains. That is why we also like you, that is why Dagestan has become the safest region in Russia.
You have chosen a leader who is interested in people’s prosperity in Daghestan. We thank our leader, who is working at the moment, very much. As soon as he came into office, wages started to be paid quickly, on time, to teachers and everyone else. And the head of the Republic works with great care. Thank you very much for this, too.
Also from the militiamen of Tsumada District, where the second Chechen campaign started, and from the village of Gigatli, this is my home village… Now I work here, in Makhachkala, in education. To tell the truth, we did not know that the President would come here, to Dagestan. This is like a dream. When I secretly found out that the President would be here, I got a call from there, “Say a big Salam from our fighters and all the mountains.” Most important is that you are our leader; I do not want to ask for anything or do anything else – only that Dagestan is safe. This is the most important thing.
Please also help the head of the Republic’s Administration and our region. My home village, which was the first to fight, does not have a gym; please, take care of this issue. And the school. The school I graduated from burnt down. And order bearers are here today: six people from this village. We have a request to have our burnt-down school restored. We have no other requests.
Vladimir Putin: What kind of gym will we make? What should it focus on?
Remark: We need a school and a gym.
Remark: The situation is that their school, built in 1940, burnt down…
Remark: There are outstanding specialists among its graduates, heads of the region. The school is falling apart. Two Olympic champions are from Tsumada. Tagir Khaibulayev is from Tsumada. Also veterans and dozens of world champions. I will discuss this with the leaders of the Republic. But this cannot be resolved today. I think we will resolve this in a year, whether via the ministry or Gazprom. You know that we installed gas under your patronage. Ten villages have blue gas in their burners. We will resolve this issue in the usual course of work.
Vladimir Putin: The village sent him to the Olympics. And motivated him. Seriously.
Remark: Tagir Khaibulayev.
Vladimir Putin: He told me he was ready to die when going to a match.
Remark: We met him this year. We were meeting him, and we were proud that you had hugged him, our man from Tsumada.
Vladimir Putin: He is a fine fellow. Yes, please.
Remark: Mr. President, I will not request anything on behalf of Tsumada District, its athletes and young people. I would simply like to wish you good health and every success. Live long and prosper despite any upheavals.
Vladimir Putin: We should not let any upheavals get in the way. We should get along with each other and enjoy our lives together.
Remark: I agree, Mr. President.
Vladimir Putin: I understand, thank you very much. Thank you for these kind words.
Remark: As-salamu alaykum (Good afternoon), Mr. President. I am very happy to meet with you for the second time. As our former head Omaraskhab Gazimagomedov said, we met for the first time in Botlikh, you shook my hand, and I felt happy. Now I am feeling much happier.
I will make this brief. I have been working as a teacher in Gigatli, on the border with Chechnya, for the past 47 years. As you know, we stopped the militants in the main strategic sector. I served as chief of staff with the self-defence force at the time.
I will not discuss improvement matters and so forth, because I would like to talk about my village. Sometimes I think that there is no other nation as this one in Daghestan. Why do I think so? This is because I knew and felt how our nation rose up in arms at that time and defended the Republic. Even the women requested assault rifles. We could hardly hold them back on the first day, on August 2. This is patriotism, Mr President. This is not just a word, it conveys a lot, it is a very meaningful word. I saw it in this people.
Please forgive me, but I am not exaggerating, and I am proud of my people. I believe that this kind of patriotism was conceived in precisely this people. With their support, we stopped those militants and prevented them from taking even one step and walking one centimetre. At that time, many people walked around begging for alms, but my people, my fellow villagers did not join them but went to the local administration and regional committee and asked for weapons instead. They gave us weapons, and we also had our own weapons. I will not conceal the fact that we bought weapons after learning that danger was lurking nearby.
Indeed, we took up arms and repelled the enemy. Just imagine, not a single person stockpiled any potatoes and hay high up in the mountains until late December and early January. The people stood on guard. Our people do not like to write stories, so that others would know. Instead, they defend their homes calmly and silently when this becomes necessary.
Sometimes, this sounds funny when they say that all others have all sorts of things. This is what weak people say, while most people say, “Keep quiet, we have done our duty, and we have proven our worth.” Indeed, we kept silent when they built the school and an outpatient clinic. But a fire flared up all of a sudden and destroyed a stone school. What Omaraskhab says is correct. I just want to talk a bit about this school because, for me, this is a heart-rending experience to look at our devastated school. We are holed up in an uncomfortable prefab building with no gym.
Omaraskhab Gazimagomedov: They have mentioned this.
Remark: Wait, I want to speak in front of President Putin, now that my heart aches. That is why I want you to help, because, otherwise, I know it, this process will take several years. So that this school is added or something. So that we can live properly, because we deserve it. We defended this place, we did not give way. Had we given way, I know, they would have been right here now, on this very square.
Mr. President, there is a reason people in Dagestan love you – they love courageous, brave people. I remember your words, “I love these people”. We love you, too; we respect you. We will always support you in every way. When you were speaking from the podium, showing strategic missiles, the people that listened to you, felt…I felt I was in seventh heaven, it felt so nice, so nice listening to you.
Thank you very much. You keep holding on. I believe I am speaking on behalf of all people and all Dagestani people, too. We are very happy with Mr. Vasilyev, because he is doing what is really necessary. Thank you very much for sending him here. In short, we support you.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much.
You said that maybe you were “talking too much” several times. No, you were not. That is exactly how it was, exactly how it is. I am sure, that is exactly how it will be in Dagestan, because people here are strong and very rich in spirit.
That school needs to be built. And we will do it; we will start right away, as soon as possible. You will see.
Schools in general are a separate matter in Russia. You know, I already talked about this; we need to make sure that no one studies in the third shift. In our country, people study in two shifts, in three shifts, even. And in regions like yours, in the mountains, it is, of course, a highly popular option, because what else can you do, you cannot go to another school in the neighbourhood. That is the first thing.
The second thing is that it is highly important for Dagestan in general, bearing in mind this region’s high birth rate, which is a very good thing, by the way. In these terms, of course, you have 16.4 per 1,000 people.
Vladimir Vasilyev: About 19.
Vladimir Putin: Yes. While Russia has an average birth rate of 11 and something, 11.4 per 1,000. Which makes it obvious that you have many children; they all need education and good education.
And what is very important? That here, just like in other branches of the economy and the social sphere, we need children in Dagestan to have a good education. Not a good piece of paper about education, but actually a good education. So much depends on this, actually, everything does. One’s education affects one’s perception of the world, the attitude towards one’s birthplace and motherland; it also has an effect on the future of the country, because we must have good specialists. Moreover, it does not matter where these specialists live: in the north, in the east, in the south, in the west, in the mountains or even in the plains – the important thing is that there must be specialists born in every Russian region. Which is why it is one of the most important areas of work. I heard you, I noted this. We will do everything that needs to be done.
Remark: I am very happy to see you, Mr President. This is your third visit to Dagestan. As I understand it, this is very high praise for the militia and other security agencies and all residents of Daghestan for defending the unity and territorial integrity of Daghestan and the Russian Federation in 1999.
I will not dwell on the things that have already been done for Botlikh and the mountainous areas. I told you about this in Stavropol; you are aware of it, so I will not repeat myself. The posthumous title of Hero of Russia was conferred upon two militiamen from Botlikh District. Many people received various government orders and medals for combat service. Umakhan Umakhanov is a member of the militia awarded the Order of Courage. He was elected to the State Duma and is now working there. He even came up with a legislative initiative in the Duma regarding the status of the militia combat veteran. I mentioned back in Stavropol that this status should be introduced in some form, maybe even without any financial component. I am aware that this issue is still being worked on, and no final decision has been made yet. Even though no one talks about it, people are still wondering why nothing has been done, even though they fought during the war and have always been true patriots? I am not sure what you think about this. Perhaps, at least those who have the awards should be given this status.
I want to say that we support the actions of our Head of Administration. Ask anyone and 99 percent will say that they support our new head, the Acting Head of the Republic Mr Vasilyev is on the right track. I am very grateful to him. I wish you success and please keep up the good work. The militia and we will always support you.
With regard to the upcoming presidential election, the militia unequivocally decided that you, Mr Putin, should be our President, and there is no alternative. How can I put it differently? You are the one.
I want to thank you for everything you have done and are doing for us and for all of Russia. We understand very well how much pressure and how many difficulties you have to overcome to achieve results. You have just mentioned the success achieved in the sphere of armaments. Every child at home is happy that we are so strong and that we have such a Supreme Commander-in-Chief. Thank you, Mr President, and I wish you every success. I wish every success to you, Mr Vasilyev, as well. We will always support you.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much. Thank you.
Remark: Mr President, Mr Vasilyev,
Speaking about 1999, I remember that I was just a little boy then. Boys of my age faced this tragedy when we were in our teens; we had to leave our homes. I was born and live in a village in Botlikh District where those bandits entered first and where they were destroyed in the end, so the constitutional system of the Russian Federation was preserved.
Of course, I must mention the most important event today, the presidential election in Russia. During these 18–19 years after 1999, I have seen you speaking and answering questions; we go from strength to strength. And I would like to quote you if I may: this is how it will be!
Of course, going back to the election, I can say for certain on behalf of the young people and people of the region, the village and the Republic in general, that we will vote for you with our strong mountaineer’s hand and sober mind. We have a common home, our strong Russia, and we do not need a second or a third home.
Nevertheless, I must touch upon an issue. Under an Executive Order of the Russian Federation President, an annual presidential competition is held in Anapa. This is the most popular sports competition among schoolchildren. The team of the Ansalta middle school has been the winner since 2011. In 2016, our team took the first place among village teams. This is a big event for the republic.
Of course, many people congratulated and met those children. This is a huge victory. We realise how much work this takes. In summer, during the school holidays, the children and their teacher, thanks to the region head, managed to get in touch with the heads of the military settlement, because this town has a comfortable sportsground, and this competition is multifaceted: it includes the theory of sports as well as all sports, including track and field, and a creative contest. This is a very patriotic competition; it provides a large impetus in general. Participation and, even more, victory means a lot. Every day children went to that town to train on their grounds in the morning and in the evening.
Although it was said here that it is not a place to ask for anything, I would not say that this is a request, nevertheless, taking this into account, I would say this is a proposal. The head of the region has initiated the construction of a gym here in the village. But the gym will focus on the freestyle wrestling clubs.
We have spoken to the head of the village, and there is a suitable place. We would like to create conditions for our children to go in for athletics if possible. Today, if I am not mistaken, there are no swimming pools in the region. We need places to jog and some other specialised places for children to do sports.
Today I would like this present to be given to these children, who have been working on it for years and succeeded. Of course, if this is possible, it would be a great gift.
I would like to say once again honestly that young people, and, of course, I talk with young people and people of my own age, support you in general and support Russia that is aiming for the future.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much.
I made a note, this is a good and noble thing, it is necessary that young people get busy, especially since you have such spirit. You all know, and I also know this, that there are many athletes and many promising young people in Daghestan. So I made a note, we will definitely implement this.
Remark: Mr President, I worked in Tsumadinsky Region from 1992 to 2001 – the most troubled times. I can compare this period and the period of the making of Russia’s leader Vladimir Putin.
There are a lot of shows on television, a lot of people, a lot of praise, and they try to teach government ministers what to do and how to do it, many political analysts who say that those times were better and now the situation is worse. Of course, I ”envy“ such people. But, Mr President, we do see success in both domestic and foreign policy.
After I was transferred to a new job in 2001, I travelled to many other regions. I see many problems not only in Tsumadinsky and Botlikhsky, but also in other regions.
Of course, it will be difficult for Mr Vasilyev initially. There will be taxes and revenues, land tax. In mountainous regions, for example, in my native Tsumadinsky Region, there are only rocks. Tomorrow they would decide to shut them off from subsidies and what then?
In 1992, when I became the head of the region, I convinced the then chairman of the government, Abdurazak Mirzabekov. He flew to the border with Georgia, to Khushet. There he saw women carrying hay and firewood on their backs. It is 60 kilometres away from the regional centre on foot. When he was here, he invited us and said, “Listen, guys, people live in mountainous areas in such difficult conditions, it is better not to deal with any problems in low-lying areas until we solve the problems there.”
Therefore, many problems are not solved. The ministries can gradually help Mr Vasilyev, because if he increases some kind of subsidy, it would be possible to solve some problems. What am I talking about? To initially support Mr Vasilyev, so that Siluanov does not turn off the tap in the Ministry of Finance, or other ministers to whom he will have to turn.
Here is one example. I travelled along lowland areas with the veterinary service, and there are greenhouses everywhere. Daghestan, not Turkey, can supply produce to all of Russia. But we need some gas subsidies and some subsidies for legal entities.
Magomed Patkhulayev worked as the head of the agro-industrial department under the government, the head of Botlikhsky Region knows this well. The development of livestock and so on.
I think that due to the fact that Mr Vasilyev clearly says how subsidies come, every kopeck that will come to the producer, there will be a greater rise. If there are five million sheep and a million cattle, then things will go smoothly, given the entrepreneurial nature of our people, things will gradually develop. Now we do not have enough capital.
Mr Vasilyev gets to know us, sees the situation in each region. This is a request to Mr Vasilyev.
I will not add any requests to the head of administration. I think the head of the administration will support these issues.
Settlements, of course, there are 64 settlements in Tsumadinsky Region. It is the largest mountainous region. This refers to the territory, the size of the territory and accessibility.
Today, there is such a difficult situation; every kid knows what is going on all over the world. We perfectly understand your difficulties, that you do a difficult job.
So, we will pray to God. I wish you luck, success, good health, happiness, joy, and that you have a good government: like Primakov, Maslyukov. The burden on you is great.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much, thank you.
Let us conclude. I would like to say the following. Indeed, nothing fabulous, nothing unusual, drastic anywhere is happening in the world, and nothing of the kind will happen in Russia, in Daghestan. You are right to say that in order to achieve such rapid growth, we need many components: time is needed, and, as you said, people who want to do business do not have working capital. But here is what I want to pay attention to. First, the support of Daghestan, and other regions of Russia that need support from the centre will definitely continue. It will be aimed at affording equal opportunities to all people, wherever they live in Russia, and, in fact, this is the meaning of all work with the regions, with the national republics.
But what should Mr Vasilyev do? What should all heads do? It is also necessary to establish order in the republic for its development. A few brief examples. Approximately, I do not know for sure, but there are around 600 petrol stations in the republic. And how many of them pay taxes? Few. Do they pay at all? They pay something somewhere, but not into the republic's budget and these funds do not reach you, that is the trouble. They do not reach people living in rural areas and cities. They go somewhere in different direction.
It is clear that mountain folk have a hard life, hard work, what taxes should they pay? It is not about this at all. It is a question of ordering economic activity, the economic life of the republic as a whole. And not in the name of some incomprehensible goals, but in the name and in the interests of the people who live here. That is what we are talking about.
Of course, there is no getting away from the fact that the election is coming soon, and I am very pleased that you had kind words for me. But, in fact, I did not come here because of the election, but because I wanted to see what the mood is. I really appreciate your opinion, because I know that there are disinterested people here who are not officials – your opinion on the situation in the republic, first and foremost. And your opinion about the first steps of the head of the republic.
From what I heard from you, I concluded that we are on the right track in general, and we only need to keep on moving forward together.
I really hope that you and residents of the republic in general will support Mr Vasilyev, support the team he will form.
In conclusion, I would like to say the following. I was very pleased to see militiamen here. I am very pleased that you are all in the ranks, that you are all full of energy, vigorous, and focused on making your contribution to the development of the republic, that you have your finger on the pulse of what is happening. I am very grateful to you for this. Thank you very much. Thank you.