President Vladimir Putin: Good day, dear colleagues!
Every year at a meeting of the presidium we summarize the activities and determine the priorities of the Federal Security Service. Today, however, I would like to expand the scope of the period examined beyond 2007.
Let me say immediately that the past few years have been a milestone not only for renewal but also the qualitative development and consolidation of the FSB. There has been full restoration of its operational, analytical and tactical capabilities. The restructuring and organizational changes have been successfully completed. The human resources base has been stabilized. On the whole the FSB has effectively addressed security issues for citizens, society and the state. I want to thank you for your collective professionalism, for your work on behalf of our country and for your courage.
One of the major outcomes of the past years is that, using the FSB in a coordinating role, we have managed to reverse the situation in the North Caucasus. The most despicable terrorist ringleaders have been liquidated. The ring closing in on the criminal underground and the remains of various armed groups is growing tighter. But the fact that there is something around which the ring is tightening means that they still exist. They have not all been eliminated. However, many former fighters, those who have not committed bloody crimes, are returning to their families to take up a peaceful life.
Of particular importance in the fight against terrorism was the strengthening of Russia's borders, first and foremost the most its difficult parts. Here I am referring to the North Caucasus. The FSB Border Service must continue to build a modern infrastructure along the entire perimeter of Russia’s borders.
I note that the security agencies have made more efficient use of an entire range of preventive measures. Thanks to this they have prevented dozens of terrorist attacks that were still in the planning stages. This means that they have saved hundreds of lives.
As you know, we tend to reward and celebrate those involved in combat operations, when something has already happened. Let me draw the attention of service heads to the fact that preventive measures are no less important for us. We need to pay attention to those officers who have accomplished so much in this area.
Worldwide the number of terrorist attacks is increasing, but in Russia they have been reduced by a factor of 2.5. But we know why these comparative figures make Russia look so good. In previous years, the state was unable to effectively counter terrorism. We suffered an extraordinary number of terrorist attacks and the terrorists’ audacity was unprecedented. But the results lately have certainly been positive. The law enforcement and anti-terrorist commissions in the field and, above all, the National Anti-Terrorist Committee deserve special praise for this. That said, the terrorist threat is still very, very great. Therefore, using all the positive experiences we have had, I beg you to expedite work on the formation of an integrated system of anti-terrorist security for the country.
As you also know, in the grim battle with the terrorists many of our military comrades have been killed. I want to emphasize that none of the officers who have died while on duty will be forgotten. It is our duty to support the families of the victims, not to leave their loved ones alone with their grief. And we must use these heroes as examples in the education of our young professionals.
Dear colleagues! Only systematic efforts can wipe out the terrorists and extremists of all stripes in their attempts to conduct subversive activities against the Russian Federation; to achieve significant reduction of the number of crimes motivated by ethnic or religious intolerance, particularly among young people. The active search for new ways of neutralising terrorist threats has been going on for years, including with respect to increased international cooperation in this field.
The FSB must continue to pay particular attention to cooperation with the special agencies of the countries in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), the CIS and other states. This will enable us, not only to root out terrorism more efficiently, but also to consolidate Russia’s international prestige. I would note that today we must already start considering measures to ensure the security of the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in 2014. And, given what we know about organizing such events, we must create a multi-level system to effectively protect participants and guests at the Sochi Olympics from potential threats.
Our country’s economic performance has been strong in recent years. Economic gains have allowed us to launch many large-scale and long-term programmes. The Stabilisation and Investment Funds have grown enormously. Priority national projects have been a success. A weapons programme designed to modernise our army and navy and to support military industrial enterprises has been given the go-ahead. We have recently made a large investment in reforming the housing and communal services sector.
All this means tougher requirements to ensure the country’s economic security. We must therefore firmly curb corruption and official abuses, and apply the operational capabilities of our agencies to untangle all the ingenious schemes for the disposal of funds from the state budget. When identifying violations, FSB employees must not overstep the limits imposed by their position. They must strictly follow the letter of the law, respecting the rights of both businesses and citizens.
Our current challenge is to protect the interests of domestic companies in international markets. Let me say again: Russia is open to civilised, constructive cooperation with foreign partners. However, we do not intend to turn a blind eye to unfair methods of competition that are used against us.
Traditionally, a major focus of the FSB’s activities has been to curb the activities of foreign intelligence. We need to increase efforts to ensure quick access to information about attempts to interfere in our internal affairs. This is particularly important before the elections for the President of the Russian Federation. Our country is a sovereign state and we will not allow the election campaign to be manipulated by outsiders. In this regard, it is the task of all the state institutions to ensure social and political stability, preserve the democratic nature of elections, and enable our citizens to make free and informed choices.
Finally, yet another challenge is to continue improving the FSB’s material resources. The amount of funding available to it has increased markedly in recent years. In large measure this has enabled it to meet its current needs. The state will continue to provide its security agencies with the most modern means of communication, weapons and transportation.
I note that in 2006–2007 the military budget increased by 45 per cent. As the economic capacity of the state increases, it will continue to grow. Important steps will be taken to provide housing for FSB staff. On 10 January of this year the Government of the Russian Federation decided to allocate 5.5 billion rubles for the construction of housing, from funds that were previously planned for 2009. Already this year, these funds will be used to build 38 houses, another 43 will be built, and there are plans for 150 more.
In conclusion, I wish once again to thank the leadership and the entire personnel of the FSB for their faithful service. I am confident that you will continue to do everything you can to strengthen the security of Russia and our citizens, facilitate the country’s social and economic recovery and improve its credibility in the world. I want to thank you for your collaborative work during these years and for your service to Russia.