President Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon,
I am very happy to see you. First of all, of course, I would like to congratulate you on your victory, congratulate all the players, the trainers and everyone who got the team back on its feet and organised its competition successes over these last years. The late President Akhmat-Khadji Kadyrov and I spoke a lot about this, as he was not only president of Chechnya but also president of the club. The club’s success was for him not just a symbol of Chechnya’s rebirth, it was also a sign that mass sport in Chechnya is developing once again.
The Chechens are excellent sportspeople and sport is very strong in the Caucasus in general. That’s not to mention one-on-one combat sports. I very much hope that Chechnya’s sportspeople will achieve high results not only in soccer but will surprise us with other victories too. This victory was a surprise and I am sure you will continue to amaze us with victories here at home and also represent Russia honourably on the international stage. Terek is now to take part in one of the most prestigious international tournaments, in the UEFA Cup. I most certainly wish you good results and hope you will play well, and we will all be following your successes closely.
The team in its revived form is new, so to say, but it has a good history behind it. It was founded in the 1950s, I think, and as I recall, had a good result in 1974 when it became Russian champion and also won the Russian Cup – a double victory. Now you have repeated this success, but the fact that this has happened precisely at this time is amazing, of course. After the team collapsed at the beginning of the 1990s, almost all its players ended up moving around between various other Russian soccer clubs and performed well. Today the team is a representative team, and this is a natural process given what is happening now in world soccer. This is natural, but it nonetheless comes as a surprise, a very pleasing event.
You know, I have a proposal. This sabre was given to me by Akhmat-Khadji. I cannot make a gift of it to someone else now, but I propose that it be given to Terek’s best player to keep for a year. Who does the team’s acting president consider the best player today?
V.Talgayev: Vladimir Vladimirovich, given that all players are equal in the trainer’s eyes, we will decide who is the best player at the end of the year.
Vladimir Putin: I have no objection and will keep it here for now then. Let’s give it to the team’s best player at the end of the season.
Sergei Abramov: Vladimir Vladimirovich, allow me. As we all know, Akhmat-Khadji Kadyrov did a great deal for our club. The players dedicated this match to him, and it was probably this determined spirit that each of the players felt that brought them victory in this difficult struggle. We honoured Akhmat-Khadji Kadyrov with a minute of silence before the match, and if possible, we would like to do so again here now.
(A minute of silence is observed).
Vait Talgayev: Vladimir Vladimirovich, the match was a difficult one, of course, especially as the team was still under the shock of the great loss that we, the Chechen people and our team, have suffered. But the players rallied, the trainers too, and as Sergei Borisovich Abramov said, we played for our president but also played for our entire Chechen people. Now there is joy in Chechnya and it is no exaggeration to say that Terek brought this joy. We knew how much people were counting on us, we know how many letters come in, we look at the site, and we couldn’t let everyone down, but in soccer anything can happen. We came through, however. Akhmat Kadyrov probably saw our match, saw our victory. People say he saw and helped us and we won. We are happy to have brought some joy to the Chechen people, but our main aim is for the boys who have now reached for the soccer ball to lay weapons aside. We now have a sports school and we travel around Chechnya. There are sources of peaceful life now and boys want to play soccer again. We want to use soccer as a way to fully draw them away from weapons and into sport, and we want to fulfil Akhmat-Khadji Kadyrov’s desire to show the Chechen people in a different light. Everyone has this perception of Chechens as terrorists. Before, Chechens were only mentioned in the newspapers and military reports, but now I think that opinions in Russia are already changing and Terek will help change how our people are perceived. Now we want to show Europe that we are peaceful and genuinely civilised people. Thank you very much for your attention.
Vladimir Putin: Now I want to say a few words to the Chechen leadership. Following the visit by the government delegation headed by the Economic Development and Trade Minister to Grozny — and we just discussed this matter at a government meeting — attention needs to be given when drawing up the reconstruction plans for Grozny to building new sports facilities and restoring old ones. This is definitely necessary and you should pay particular attention to it in your planning. This includes stadiums and sports grounds, not just big ones, but also smaller areas for children to be able to train on a daily basis. That Terek has achieved such a result is doubly amazing when you consider that the team constantly trains and plays away and not on home ground. This, of course, cannot but have an impact on the trainers’ work and the way training takes place.
Please, the team captain.
D.Gaisumov: First, thank you for the attention you have given us today. We try to play, Vladimir Vladimirovich. Thanks be to Akhmat-Khadji Kadyrov who got the team on its feet again. This was our dream, we wanted to rebuild this team and he did this. I have always tried to show that we are normal people in every way and it seems that things are working for us. Thank you.
Vladimir Putin: A major international event has already taken place. It will be an even greater event if you manage to put on a professional, high-level performance in the UEFA Cup. During this competition everyone in Grozny was watching you closely and giving you their support, but at the UEFA Cup you will have the whole of Russia behind you.
A.Alkhanov: Vladimir Vladimirovich, for us this victory by our soccer players in the Russian Cup is not just a sporting victory – it also represents the victory of the policy pursued by the federal authorities, above all yourself, and by Akhmat Kadyrov, in Chechnya. Essentially, it represents the victory of peaceful creation, a process that is now taking on more distinct lines and a clearer face in Chechnya. I would like to take this opportunity to add that you said that the whole of Russia will be behind us when we play in the UEFA Cup, but we were already very happy, and Mr Abramov and Ramzan Akhmatovich will back me here, when many Muscovites, soccer fans who were at the stadium, shared our victory with us in sincerity after the match. I had a great many calls from all around Russia, people calling to congratulate us on this victory, and I am sure that this is far from the last victory for the Chechen people and for Chechnya. We must achieve victory not only in the sporting arena and I hope that we will also see victories in other areas of life in our republic. Thank you very much for your support and your help.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you for the result you achieved. I fully understood your feelings and shared your joy with you.