Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon,
For obvious reasons, far from everything I would like to say today can be named. The situation is grave and therefore I would like to make things clear at once: in the building on Melnikov Street we have a very difficult but absolutely understandable situation – a hostage-taking. And such situations have faced us more than once before, both in Russia and in other countries.
What is therefore needed above all else is an objective assessment of developments and exact actions checked and aimed to help the people save their lives. Let us put aside all sorts of political statements and debates – they are now out of place and harmful. They are absolutely harmful because they concern the suffering of hundreds of absolutely innocent people.
I think you understand what led to today’s events. Those who took hostages are calling for an end to the war and bloodshed. At the same time I am absolutely sure that it is this development of events that does not suit them. Both they and those behind them actually fear further settlement and stabilisation in the Chechen Republic. Everyone has seen that it is under way. Despite all the pain we are experiencing in Chechnya, the stabilisation is there. There is the prospect of adopting a constitution for the Chechen Republic and electing legitimate bodies of authority. It is this they fear the most, it is this they do not want, and it is these developments they wish to foil.
At the same time, I want to recall what I said before and to say that my proposals still stand. I have spoken about this repeatedly in different ways and on different occasions, addressing different people, all those who consider the problem their own. We are open to any contacts, and all my earlier proposals remain on the table.
I wish once again to return to the complexity of the situation and to stress that in this context it is quite appropriate to demand that everyone observe the necessary rules, and above all those who happen to be involved in one way or another in negotiations with the terrorists themselves. And it does not matter at all who they are: State Duma deputies, pressmen, or ordinary people. I therefore appeal to you to work together in the interests of the cause and not to give way to emotions. In these hours it is especially important to pre-calculate the price of every word uttered and every step made. The lives of our citizens may depend on them.
Many countries have already offered and are rendering their assistance to us, and we are very grateful to them for it. But the situation, I repeat, remains complex, and therefore the main condition for working in such a difficult situation is the unity and cohesion of society. In this sense a great deal depends on us, on the political parties, especially on those who are represented in the country’s parliament.