Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon.
We have just been visiting, together with some of those present, some places where reconstruction work is underway. We have again seen that flooding has caused severe damage to several regions in the Southern Federal District of Russia. The Krasnodar Region was hit by three floods in a row. Obviously, the scale of the devastation and damage and the speed at which the situation developed have called for very prompt and decisive actions, both in terms of organisation and financing.
Through common efforts transport communications, gas and water supplies in all communities have been restored within a fairly short time. Initially there are temporary arrangements, but the whole life support system is shortly to be put on a permanent mode of operation.
It is important that medical help and monitoring of the sanitary and epidemiological situation have been promptly organised. This prevented the spread of mass infectious diseases.
The main problem is housing the victims. The federal budget has earmarked 6.5 billion roubles to solve these problems. As of today the building and buying of flats, that is, acquiring them in the secondary market, has provided housing for only 22.8% of the victims, and yet it is already the end of autumn – November. I can’t say that we are keeping up the necessary pace.
The repair of damaged flats has been moving forward faster. About 90% of such housing has been restored. But in some regions the subsidies made available for the repair are still sitting in the accounts of Sberbank. I cannot describe that part of the work as satisfactory.
Let me remind you that we have agreed that by December 1 all the victims will have a roof over their heads. Time is running out. Please, monitor the situation not on the basis of formal reports, but on the basis of the situation on the ground. I must say that the work the Government is conducting in this sphere has such a large scale that it is unlikely that any other country has ever done such work, but I would like to warn all those present: we should not imagine that we are doing acts of charity. We are doing it, first, because many people live below the poverty line and it is our duty to do it. And secondly, our insurance system is not working.
In the rest of the civilised world there are solid insurance guarantees against the contingency of a natural disaster. In this country, whenever emergency situations arise, there is no effective mechanism for reconstruction. The challenge is to create it within the shortest time possible, including through the use of an effective insurance services market.
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And now let us move on to the question of the interaction between the federal and regional authorities in the face of the growing terrorist threat. That threat demands still greater consolidation of efforts at all levels of Government. I must recognise that in the dramatic days of October the heads of the regions did much to ensure the security of citizens and preserve social stability. I would like to thank you for that and I take this opportunity to thank all our colleagues in other regions of the Russian Federation. A lot depended on you, on your restraint, your commitment to facing problems, and a certain impulse emanated from you, an impulse in the right direction.
But under the current conditions fundamentally new approaches are needed, approaches that have to do not only with the work of the law enforcement bodies, but of the whole system of state institutions. Special emphasis must be laid on preventing terrorist attacks.
First of all the very character of modern terrorist threats presents a new challenge in terms of prompt response, teamwork and the ability to be “pro-active”. It is precisely the case when lack of information, insight and knowledge of the situation may lead to dire consequences.
Besides, opposing terrorism is not only the task of the military and security agencies. The civilian authorities too share the responsibility for protecting the population. I would like to remind you that there are anti-terrorist commissions at present in every region of the Federation. I believe that it is up to them to perfect the mechanisms of interaction between the security agencies, the regional and federal bodies of power.
The staffs of the Presidential Envoys should also play a coordinating role. I would like to bring it to the attention of the President’s Envoy Viktor Kazantsev. I have met with all the Envoys. This is an area in which they can and must prove their usefulness. It is one of the reasons why the institution was created in the first place.
Besides, in any extreme situations the medical services, the rescue, psychological assistance and other services must operate efficiently. I think these services need to be strengthened, especially at the level of regional authorities.
The Southern Federal District of course is a very special one. It is not only due to the problems that still persist in the Chechen Republic. Many long-standing problems have yet to be solved in the south of Russia because it is a multi-ethnic region. Some of these have historical roots and some are connected with the current economic development of Russia and its regions.
I am referring to the complicated migration flows, a subject that we have frequently discussed with Alexander Tkachyov. It is a very acute problem for the Stavropol Region and other regions of Russia. The economic infrastructure is undeveloped and there are employment problems. The most pressing problems of course are in the Chechen Republic. And there are many similar problems in Ossetia.
Extremist forces – religious, nationalistic, etc. – try to take advantage of any social and economic tensions. In the absence of law and order and government control some of them begin to interact with terrorist organisations. I would like to draw the attention of the heads of the regions and of the security agencies to the legal powers they have under the Law “On Counteracting Extremist Activities” passed in the summer of 2002. And I would like to remind the heads of the military and security agencies that all their actions in the Russian Federation must fully comply with the law.
In conclusion to my brief speech, I would like to note that maintaining stability in the regions is a two-fold task. It is equally important for us to ensure the safety of citizens and at the same time to secure an upsurge of the economy and the social sphere. So I am urging all the bodies of power to cooperate closely in addressing that task.