Question: Do you think it correct to divide the country into federal districts? Will Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoys receive any additional powers?
Vladimir Putin: I have repeatedly said that, instead of intervening in the work of regional leaders, we must coordinate the activities of federal agencies at the regional level. Nobody can replace them in this sphere.
This decision would enable us to restore a common legal space. The officials who have been appointed by me to the federal districts are fulfilling their function. We are currently discussing the borders of federal districts and their composition, and this problem will be solved.
Question: What do you think about your participation in the APEC summit in Brunei?
Vladimir Putin: I do not want to separate my work at the APEC summit in Brunei from my work here because today’s discussion has largely revolved around the summit agenda. APEC countries now account for 60% of the global economy. Today, we have repeatedly noted that foreign economic activity and attracting foreign investment are a top priority of the Siberian region’s economic development. These cannot be achieved independently of our Asia-Pacific neighbours. We negotiated with the Presidents of China, the United States, South Korea and the Prime Minister of Japan and focused on different aspects of specific projects in the Siberian region, namely, investment projects in the energy sector and those aiming to expand the transport infrastructure. Today, the leaders of Siberia energetically and professionally defended their viewpoints and appeared interested. I negotiated with my foreign colleagues in Brunei, and today I met regional leaders and those in charge of Russian Government departments as well as the energy and transport sectors. We can compare the results of the Brunei summit with our plans for the Siberian region and include all this in the regional development strategy.
Question: What have you managed to accomplish?
Vladimir Putin: We have accomplished most of our objectives, primarily in the sphere of improving relations at the federal level. One of your colleagues has just mentioned the establishment of federal districts. Moreover, the highly important Federation Council reform would help create a normal legislative process and distribute powers between different institutions of state authority and administrative agencies. And, finally, we have reached all of the federal budget’s macro-economic goals and curbed inflation. The average income has increased by 20%. Pensions have been raised by 60%, or by 40% taking into account inflation. However, this is not enough. Russian industry is growing at a rate of 10%, and GDP will rise by 7% by late 2000. We will continue to solve all high-priority social problems if the economy continues to grow at this pace in the future.
Question: How has Vladimir Putin changed?
Vladimir Putin: He is three years older.