Dmitry Medvedev: Good afternoon,
A tragedy has taken place in South Ossetia. The barbaric aggression by the Georgian authorities has resulted in the deaths of people, civilians. There are numerous victims and many of them are Russian citizens. Russian peacekeepers have been killed. We mourn all of the victims and express our sincere condolences to their families.
Today has been declared a day of mourning in our country. I propose that we remember the dead.
Colleagues, before we begin discussing the budget, I would like to put the main question on the agenda to the Minister of Finance: what is the situation with humanitarian aid, aid for the victims of the catastrophe in South Ossetia? Have the necessary changes been made to the budget, and what still remains to be done?
Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin: Dmitry Anatolyevich, the Russian Government has sufficient reserves, including the Russian Federation Government reserves, the Government emergency reserves and the regional stabilisation support fund. These reserves make it possible to allocate the required funds for aid without having to make amendments to the budget. The Government has already given its first approval and 500 million roubles were transferred yesterday to the North Ossetian regional authorities’ account. This request was examined and agreed with the regional authorities and covers expenses for all the necessary measures related to taking in refugees, organising their accommodation and buying needed items, and also additional support for local hospitals taking in the sick and injured. This is in addition to the work the federal agencies are doing. North Ossetia today therefore has everything it needs to be able to take in these citizens.
Furthermore, a government resolution has been issued enabling the Federal Migration Service to register and provide material assistance, using federal budget funds allocated to the service, to all refugees who apply. The Federal Migration Service has reserves and funds for these kinds of situations. We are ready to top up these funds at any moment if needed.
The Government has decided to carry out an evaluation over the next two weeks of the damage that has taken place in South Ossetia, above all in Tskhinvali and the neighbouring villages, and make an estimate of the funds required for rebuilding housing and other basic infrastructure. At this first stage we have made a preliminary estimate of 10 billion roubles, and we can begin allocating this money right now without having to amend the budget. As I said, we can draw these funds from the regional stabilisation fund. We also propose creating a fund in North Ossetia into which this money will be transferred and subsequently spent as needed on the reconstruction projects.
Aside from the money we can make available this year, and which comes to billions of roubles, we have earmarked 10 billion roubles in the draft 2009 budget as an additional reserve that can be spent as need be depending on the demands.
All the main measures have thus been organised and we are now drafting the resolution on providing material assistance to all the victims.
In addition to this work, the Federal Migration Service is working with the North Ossetian authorities to organise food, rent accommodation and house the refugees. Each of the refugees from South Ossetia will receive 50,000 roubles as compensation for property destroyed. This is initial assistance that will increase later, taking into account reconstruction work and re-establishing the conditions for normal life.
Dmitry Medvedev: Alexei Leonidovich, I want you to keep this under your constant control and monitor the movement of funds so that everything we have agreed on, everything the Government has decided will be carried out. This concerns the immediate aid to compensate for property destroyed, and other urgent compensation, and it also concerns the funds we have planned for reconstruction work and restoring the property of people in South Ossetia.
Of course, this is all not such a rapid process, but we need to do everything we can to help these people.