Vladimir Putin: Dear friends,
I am glad to be able to meet with you to discuss the current problems in Chechnya and the issues connected with the restoration of normal political, social and economic life. We have very many clichés. In general, they by no means always correspond to the realities, and that is true of any country and any people. One of the clichés which has taken root in recent years is that Chechens can only solve issues by force and do not recognize any other methods. I think the people present at this meeting in the Kremlin have proved the opposite by their actions, their life and results they achieved.
I don’t mind telling you that I am better acquainted with some of you than with others, and some I have never met before. I don’t mind telling you that I have looked at the information about each of you, and I can say with confidence that you are all high achievers, partly because you have relied on your own resources and exclusively peaceful methods and are not in any way associated with any military actions, let alone actual fighting.
Present here are industrialists, entrepreneurs and financiers. I am mainly interested in listening to you. Of course, I have my own ideas about how the situation in Chechnya should develop, but I would like to listen to you on political, social and economic issues.
Let us talk a little bit more about the economic situation and the way it is developing. Let us talk about how to ensure a decent life for the people because I know – and not from hearsay – that the majority of Chechen people have long tired of all kinds of fighting and special operations. People want a normal life, normal living conditions and political stability. They want a sense of security and they want to be masters in their own land. The Constitution of the Russian Federation and federal laws offer ample opportunities for that.
The only people who may be opposed to it are those who have turned their own people into hostages for their ambitious plans. If we look, for example, at the situation in Afghanistan, that country and the Afghan people have effectively been overrun by extremist forces. But we know that it was foreigners who were often giving the commands and determined policy there.
And what happened here? The people did not spare their own people and turned them into hostages. But let us hope that it will gradually recede into the past, and if we want this to happen more quickly, we must think about the future. That is why I would like to listen to you about the current situation and about how to proceed in the future.
I would like to end my remarks here. I think it would be proper if we allowed the head of the republic’s administration to say a few words. Just a few words, because he has to speak a lot and is doing a lot of work on the ground as he comes to grips with the real problems today. By the way, I would like to stress that chief executives of any rank in any place always tend to take the blame regardless of how they are treated. So you have a very complicated and, I should say, a very ungrateful task.
But let us face it: when we discussed who would be the head of the republic, I asked that man to take that job, I told him that he was assuming a heavy burden. You are assuming a huge responsibility. In fact, it is in a way a suicidal job. But even then the present head of the administration said: my people need a normal life and somebody must do it. It does not mean that the government and the Presidential Executive Office are perfect. It does not mean that they are succeeding in everything.
I invite you all to take part in an open discussion.