Head of The Republic of Karelia Sergei Katanandov: Vladimir Vladimirovich, in accordance with your order I would like to inform you on the state of affairs in Karelia following the events in Kondopoga. After your hotline we were able to work quickly and following the State Council meeting on 8 October, the first Council session was then held on 23 October. The acting head of the Kondopoga region has been appointed. This is a very important event because in August the previous head of the region went on vacation and then disgracefully retired, and in practice there were no authorities in the region.
We held consultations and as of yesterday we appointed a new chief of police because the previous one had also been suspended from duty. Today we appointed a new public prosecutor to replace the old one who had also been suspended from duty. I hope that in the near future all the remaining leaders will also be appointed and that the administration will continue to be formed.
When I returned I met at once with Kondopoga public representatives and with the women who had asked you questions. I informed them of our work and discussed the state of affairs in quite a bit of detail. I was once again confirmed in my sense that many problems arise in the region and in the city because of the authorities’ inadequate work. One of the problems involves work by the law enforcement agencies and we talked about this.
Already today order is returning.
President Vladimir Putin: Sergei Leonidovich, in my experience during all my years of work here this is the first time I could not reach the head of a region. This is the first time, but this is not the issue at stake. You have apologized and one might consider that the question is settled. The issue at hand is that it was only after we started speaking about this all over the country during the hotline – the one you mentioned just now – that you started to work actively again.
Sergei Leonidovich, serious tragic events that have resonance throughout the country have taken place. Moreover, before accomplishing this major task – forming the regional authorities – you went on vacation. Of course, Portugal is warmer but Kondopoga is more important for us. And it is good that you have now got down to work. But I think that what happened should act as a good lesson to you and to the other heads of regions. We must all take very seriously what is happening in Russia and in the regions of the Russian Federation.
Sergei Katanandov: Vladimir Vladimirovich, I myself held no less than 50 meetings in Kondopoga and these meetings were very serious — we began with youth. We held assemblies of parents and in two months we have accomplished a great deal of work there. We held a congress of women of Karelia at which I spoke. The women of Kondopoga have formed a large group of negotiators because there was a certain situation when a portion of Chechen women left. I would like to once again confirm that I share your evaluation of the situation but nevertheless, in practice, my arrival on 3 September extinguished the conflict. Along with this we came to the conclusion that the local authorities had not worked effectively. This is the main problem. If they had reacted in time it is possible that these tragic events would not have taken place.
Vladimir Putin: And then they were no local authorities at all, and you left.
Sergei Katanandov: I appointed my representative…Actually, you are right – your evaluation is very harsh and I certainly made a mistake. I will make all due corrections.
Vladimir Putin: What is the general situation in the Republic today?
Sergei Katanandov: The situation is difficult. One of the main problems is that ours is a northern territory. As a whole the economy is growing. Last year we had a better result, still growth now is around two percent. We have made serious plans and adopted a programme until 2010. I already spoke before the legislative assembly on the subject of this programme. This programme provides that about 9,000 new jobs will be created. This will ensure stable development in the region. Our budget is growing and we are coping with the task of supporting those who receive salaries from budget funds. In particular, as of 1 October we made the decision to change the way we pay salaries and we now have a sixth category as minimal. In other words, we have no state employees who receive a salary that is less then the subsistence wage. We receive grants from the federal centre on a regular basis. They are not big, about 18 percent, but this also ensures that we have quite good prospects. We have held consultations with respect to next year’s budget. We have certain difficulties due to the fact that we incurred quite substantial obligations within the national projects. We support these projects because they are very important for the north, especially projects connected with health and housing construction.