Question: What new things have you learned during this trip to Chechnya?
Vladimir Putin: We have heard from the heads of district administrations. It was a very useful talk, a very frank talk. I have learned a lot.
Question: Can you be more specific?
Vladimir Putin: I have learned more about the situation on the ground, about the problems facing the heads of district administrations and above all the problems facing the people of Chechnya. I think that is the main thing.
Question: What can you say about the problems with pay to servicemen in Chechnya?
Vladimir Putin: You know, when I watch the main television channels, I am appalled to see pictures of people demanding to be paid the money they earned a long time ago. Moreover, these are people who put their lives on the line doing their duty to their country, who are fighting to restore constitutional order in the North Caucasus. They are risking their lives. And they are not paid their salaries on time. That is outrageous.
And it is one of the topics we have been discussing here and one of the topics we will be discussing tomorrow with the Finance Ministry and the Defence Ministry.
And one of the reasons that brought me here is to look at what is happening on the ground, including the financial issues.
Question: What do you think about the appeal of the Council of Elders in Argun not to withdraw the troops? They are afraid that they will be left without protection.
Vladimir Putin: That is also a topical issue. We should decide how many troops to withdraw and where they should be stationed. In any case I can tell you Russia will have as many troops here as it deems necessary. The cuts apply only to excess contingent and they will take place as the law enforcement bodies build up their capacity. All that will be analysed and decisions will be taken after the conclusions are drawn from the analysis.