President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Good afternoon, dear colleagues!
Last year was full of very serious events, which have had a very significant impact on the alignment of forces in the world. We faced the barbarian aggression by Georgia against two territories, which had not been recognized at that time, and against Russian citizens. A number of neighbouring countries continued to have unstable socio-political situations, and there were continual attempts to enlarge NATO, including at the expense of providing so-called accelerated entry into the alliance for Georgia and Ukraine. All of this, of course, necessitated exact and frictionless work by all Special Forces structures and law-enforcement agencies, as well as a rather high level of coordination.
I must say straight away that the Federal Security Service has overall been successful in carrying out the tasks put before it. In conducting individual operations, FSB officers have shown genuine bravery and heroism. Today, our state and society expect new and significant results from all of us. The FSB is a key link in our system of providing security to our country against foreign and internal threats. And the extent to which Russian citizens’ constitutional rights and freedoms are safely protected has a direct effect on the economic development of our country, its formation as a constitutional government, a modern government, and ultimately, the social well-being of our entire society.
The Federal Security Service is entrusted with an array of very important tasks. One of the most important is the fight against terrorism. In regard to this, I would like to mention that overall, despite a sharp decline in major terrorist acts in 2008, the number of instances of terrorism has still not gone down. I wanted to bring this to the attention of everyone present.
Now, several comments about the specifics of our work.
First. The situation in the North Caucasus must be under constant watch: this is a clear priority, and unfortunately, a constant priority. It remains complicated. As shown by recent events – not long ago, I was in Ingushetia, – it is imperative to seriously increase coordination in the work of all law enforcement departments, including in that region. This is a direct objective for the National Anti-terrorism Commission, where the Federal Security Service plays a leading role.
The second task. In the field of anti-terrorism, it is extremely important to organize effective work in operational investigations. It helps to obtain information about the ideological and financial inflow and foundation of terrorist groups, thus depriving them of financial support and making recruitment of new gangs more difficult (in cases when our actions are carried out effectively and in good time).
Third. Counteracting terrorism must also promote the processes of developing laws, and laws must, in turn, be up to date, helping to fight against terrorist acts. At the end of last year, the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code were updated with an entire range of corrections. These regulations are drafted to eliminate any possibility that someone might avoid punishment for terrorist actions.
Fourth. The dependability of anti-terrorist measures taken during large events, including ones with high international representation, should be increased. We have many serious events ahead of us, ones such as the Russia-European Union summit, as well as summits of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the APEC summit, and later, the XXII Olympic and Paralympic Games [in Sochi, in 2014]. Even now, we must do everything that is necessary to provide the participants and guests of these events with all measures of security.
We must be more active in developing international cooperation in anti-terrorism, first and foremost within the context of our closest allied relations, within the framework of the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the SCO. We must coordinate work within the framework of the CIS and increase our levels of joint exercises and information exchange. In fact, we are already doing all of this, but we should probably do it more actively.
It is also imperative to switch to more modern and promising forms of interaction, not only with our traditional partners, who, without a doubt, will always be a priority, but also with new major players in the international arena, such as Latin American countries (with some of whom, in fact, we already had good relations earlier), and BRIC countries [Brazil, Russia, India, and China]. This is also a very important direction in cooperative action.
The existence of terrorist hotspots in countries such as Afghanistan and Pakistan has a substantial influence on our interests and the interests of our partners. In this regard, together with international anti-terrorism units and organisations we must take on measures to foresee and counteract the threats originating from that region. That is also an important objective.
Strict countermeasures to nationalism and extremism are also among our primary objectives. Any propaganda promoting separatism, nationalism, or religious intolerance is a clear provocation against the stability and unity of our multiethnic country. Here, we need to work not only to mitigate the repercussions, but also to effectively prevent such acts; we need very tight cooperation with civil society institutions working on these issues.
Counterintelligence continues to be a key direction in the work of the FSB. We understand that the number of people hunting for secrets, as well as intelligence that constitutes government secrets, is not going down. Interest in our newest technologies, military construction, weapons exports, and other politically- and economically-related information is not decreasing, either. In fact, in recent years, new subjects have gained in interest, such as Russia’s activity in the Arctic region, the expansion of our cooperation with sub-polar governments, and other topics.
I emphasize once again that Russia’s position in the world, as well as its integration into the world economy, depends on our ability to protect our national interests and competitive edge, especially within the context of the world financial crisis. It is also imperative to have advance information, which will allow us to make strategic and long-term decisions. In this regard, there are also higher demands toward the quality of prepared analytical materials.
Now, I would like to say a few words about our objectives in terms of economic security. It is true that today’s situation in the world is not simple, nor is the situation simple in our country. Without a doubt, the world financial crisis does not favour lowering crime rates; instead, it creates problems of social order. We are taking all possible measures to support key branches of the national economy. Significant funds are allocated to the banking, industrial, and construction sectors. But allocating funds is not enough, as we all know. First, they must reach real consumers, and second, we must ensure that these funds are spent effectively.
Naturally, our goal consists of stabilizing industrial activity, maintaining the maximum possible number of jobs, and ensuring that basic social services and programming are provided. These funds, and I emphasize this one more time, must be spent according to the budget. Thus, it is imperative to bring to light and suppress any corruption in this area. Capitalizing on the crisis is a twofold crime.
To carry out the National Plan on Fighting Corruption, which I sanctioned last year, a corresponding legal package has already been passed. I count on you to skilfully apply these regulations, which are fairly new and, perhaps in some cases, somewhat untraditional, in your operational and investigative work. This also requires heightened attention.
I would like to separately discuss the issue of border security. Last year, we continued work on forming a joint profile for state boundaries and improving a system to protect them. Recently, when visiting the Ural Federal District in December of last year, I visited the border between Russia and Kazakhstan, where I personally looked at the ways used today to protect our borders, as well as the technical equipment and living conditions provided to our border patrol workers. Overall, it made quite a favourable impression, although much work is still needed.
This year, we experimented with infrastructure development for sections of our borders with Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Kazakhstan. We must expand this experiment in other directions as well.
In addition, we must also continue the construction of modern work and technical complexes in the Arctic, and concentrate our efforts on creating a modernized coast guard, which is imperative for effectively intercepting trafficked ocean and biological resources.
I remind you that the infrastructure of the Russian border must serve not only to perform protective activities (which is a given), but also to expand economic and humanitarian ties with contiguous countries – in cases, of course, when those ties are friendly in nature.
A few words about issues relating to material and technical provisions for the FSB. During the last few years, financing for the FSB has grown steadily, and most subdivisions received special weaponry, modern weaponry, modern communication equipment, and transport. Compensation for FSB agents also increased last year, by almost 20 percent. Much was also done to resolve housing problems. I would like to say straight out that this will continue. Material compensation for FSB staff, as well as staff in other security agencies and special departments, must remain at a respectable level.
Dear colleagues! The FSB’s capacity comes, first and foremost, from its people, from personal, professional, and human qualities, from competence, responsibility, and professionalism on the part of each employee within every rank and subdivision of the FSB, and, of course, from a dedicated, selfless attitude toward the work. Last year demonstrated that all of these qualities are very much sought after. Indeed, it was last year that many of our previous undertakings, our approaches, and even the policy and the direction of our government were tested. I must admit that this year, a difficult year, will also continue to test the durability of our entire government system, including the Federal Security Service.
I would like to thank you for your service. I am certain that in the future, you will continue to fulfil all the tasks put before you with excellent results.
Good luck to you, and all the best!