The President of Russia Vladimir Putin: What is happening in the republic?
The Chechen President Alu Alkhanov: Major positive changes have taken place in the Chechen Republic in all areas, including in the social and economic spheres, in the establishment of state structures and in the development of civil society. Most importantly, the public mood is improving every day. The people are becoming confident that they will have an opportunity to live a normal life. This is definitely the result of positive changes underway in the republic’s cities and villages. The people see new streets and avenues, residential blocks and schools rising from the ruins, which is an inspiring sight, convincing them that everything we are doing in the republic is correct. Actions speak louder than words, and have a positive effect on the public mood.
Vladimir Putin: What about the economic situation and social issues?
Alu Alkhanov: Here are a few figures indicating the socio-economic achievements of the republic this year.
I will begin with the acute housing problem. This year, we have restored 126,000 square meters of housing under a federal program and built 41,000 square meters of new housing. In addition, we are building more than 526,000 square meters of housing that is not part of the program. Yesterday, we completed the reconstruction of Kadyrov Avenue, including 80 social and cultural facilities and schools. We have built trading establishments with a floor space of 13,000 square meters. You know that we have nearly completed the reconstruction of Grozny Airport and hope to be able to begin flights soon.
We are satisfied with the rapid reconstruction of private housing. About 32,000 square meters of housing has been rebuilt in that sector. In keeping with the federal program, we have rebuilt 16 schools, including 10 general schools, and built two schools for 1,250 students.
Vladimir Putin: Are these good schools?
Alu Alkhanov: They are very good. Construction companies from Moscow have built them. They are very good schools.
Vladimir Putin: I was at a school during my first visit to the republic. There were no chairs in it, and children had to bring their own chairs.
Alu Alkhanov: Next year, we will connect 125 of the 467 schools to the Internet as part of national projects. The educational system in the republic is rapidly improving, largely thanks to the national project on education. Supervising instructors receive substantial material assistance. Education is progressing quickly.
Vladimir Putin: And what about health care?
Alu Alkhanov: As I have mentioned, five medical establishments have been rebuilt, the most important of them being the republic’s clinic hospital.
Vladimir Putin: Is it located in Grozny?
Alu Alkhanov: Yes, it is the republic’s children’s clinic. We badly needed it, because the child disease rate is very high, and the birth rate is also high. We have also modernized the regional hospital in Urus-Martan.
On the whole, although much is being done in this sphere, we must do something about the oncology outpatient clinic without delay. Unfortunately, there are many patients with malignant tumors. I visited the Rostov Institute of Oncology the other day, which treats about 1,600 patients annually. Many of them receive very good medical assistance. I repeat, the number of patients with malignant tumors is very high in the republic.
Speaking about the national project on health care, I can say that we have received 63 emergency vehicles and medical and diagnostic equipment worth nearly 200 million rubles ($7.58 million). We have no problems with this equipment, but we lack paramedical and obstetric establishments and medical assistance in rural areas. We have the equipment, but the buildings for it are not ready yet.
Vladimir Putin: But the priority task is to create jobs.
Alu Alkhanov: Most certainly. We have done a lot to achieve that objective this year, but we still need to attain two priority goals: to provide housing and create jobs. Unfortunately, 323,000 of the 615,000 working-age people in Chechnya are unemployed. Therefore, this problem will remain a priority next year.
Vladimir Putin: What relations do you have with the Russian government?
Alu Alkhanov: I want to thank you personally, the Russian government, Parliament, and the leaders of Russian regions for their assistance with the reconstruction of the republic. They are providing invaluable assistance.
In accordance with your instructions, federal target appropriations for 2006 were increased by 3.211 billion rubles ($121.72 million). Following two coordinating meetings held in Grozny and attended by the heads of leading federal ministries, the program budget for 2007 has been increased by 5 billion rubles ($189.54 million). A plan for socio-economic development of the republic for 2008–2011 is being discussed now. I think allocations under this plan will raise the Chechen Republic to the average Russian level of socio-economic development within four years.
Vladimir Putin: I know that tax collection has increased in the republic, and your consolidated budget has grown 69% and is running a surplus. What are you doing to help settle returning refugees?
Alu Alkhanov: As of now, about 1,600 people have returned home. It would not be true to say that all of them have their own housing. They have been given temporary housing, allowances and privileges. At the same time, we are working with the heads of regional administrations to ensure that they are allocated land plots for housing construction. We are considering giving financial compensation to those whose houses were ruined. This is how we are working with refugees.
You know that inspections of temporary camps helped us determine that about 13,000 people cannot be granted the status of displaced persons. We have settled many, but not all, questions regarding their placement and compensation. On the whole, the number of displaced persons is declining.
Vladimir Putin: You should carry on this work next year.