President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Comrades, today we will be discussing the performance of the Federal Security Service (FSB) in 2009 and of course we will also define priorities for the future.
Annual meetings of the Federal Security Service board are traditionally attended by representatives of law enforcement agencies, the Prosecutor General’s office, the Supreme Court and other departments involved in coordinating activities in related areas.
Defending national security and ensuring the rights and freedoms of citizens depend on your coordinated efforts. I hope that in today's discussion we will proceed as we usually do, concentrating on specifics and focusing on the most important aspects of the Federal Security Service’s activity.
Ensuring the security of our country is one of the essential conditions for the modernisation of the economy, which is the top priority for our nation’s development and for the realisation of our long-term strategic plans. It is a priority for the sustainable economic and democratic development of our country. In this regard the actual systems used to ensure national security must be constantly improved, and the operational and technical capabilities of the FSB must continue to develop.
Currently the main challenges facing the security services involve a wide range of requirements, a whole set of priorities, and I would like to go through them now.
Of course most important is the fight against terrorism and extremism. Last year the FSB succeeded in preventing more than 80 terrorist attacks and neutralised more than 500 leaders and members of criminal groups. We need to continue our efforts to wipe out the criminal underground, its ideologists and those who carry out terrorist attacks. In this regard, as was pointed out during the meetings that were held last year in Makhachkala and in Stavropol, the authorities and civil society must be actively involved in these efforts.
I have repeatedly pointed out that many problems in the North Caucasus region are seated in the weak economy and the lack of prospects for people living there. In keeping with what I said in my Presidential Address and in line with the decisions made a few days ago, last week we created a new North Caucasus Federal District. Its newly appointed envoy [Alexander Khloponin] has broad powers, by virtue of his actual mandate and his position as deputy prime minister. I am expecting that we will achieve concrete results this year, including by reducing corruption in the region. Unfortunately the level of corruption is dangerously high – it’s bad in our own country but even worse in the North Caucasus. We should be able to get the local authorities under control, and strictly supervise the proper use of public funds allocated. We have to deal with this, because there is a lot of money involved, and we all know how ineffectively it has been spent.
For my part, I will continue to make the necessary decisions concerning the appointment of both governors when the time is ripe and heads of the law enforcement agencie.
Of course the next priority is an economic challenge, our economic security. You all know about the anti-crisis measures that the Government Cabinet has taken, and measures designed to provide social support for citizens have led to substantial allocations of budgetary funds. Hundreds of billions of rubles are aimed at supporting single industry cities, social infrastructure, the financing of long-term federal programmes, including large-scale programmes, such as the APEC forum in Vladivostok, the World Summer Universiade in Kazan, the XXII Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, and many others. In fact, this applies not just to sports and major international events. Some of these programmes are being implemented successfully, others less so, but the question that should preoccupy us is somewhat different. We need to make greater use of existing operational capabilities for addressing the various schemes aimed at stealing government funds. Such schemes exist, they are well known, and new ones are constantly being invented. So work in this area should continue, in order to put a complete stop to this sort of corruption and malfeasance. Of course I would like to emphasise the need to act within the law and in accordance with the mandate of the Federal Security Service, respecting and strictly observing the rights of citizens, including property rights and the rights of business entities.
The third major area is counterintelligence activities, a traditional concern for the FSB. Foreign intelligence services are constantly trying to pry into government secrets and this is unlikely to change any time soon. The task of counterintelligence is to respond to any attempts to collect such information, and then initiate criminal cases and bring the perpetrators to justice.
The fourth area is related to the effective protection of our borders. We have made a number of important decisions at meetings of the Security Council and the State Border Commission. We have repeatedly insisted that facilities along our borders should meet the highest possible standards. Recently much has been achieved in this regard. But we need more than well-equipped borders: they have to be convenient for our citizens and adapted to the development of full-scale trade and economic relations with foreign states. I would also draw your attention to the fact that we have a new Customs Union, and that new requirements will apply in connection with the creation of the union between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.
A particular challenge involves continuing to help strengthen the borders of South Ossetia and Abkhazia in accordance with accepted international requirements.
The fifth task and priority is a systemic and fundamental task relating to the development of the FSB’s logistical potential. Together with Mr Bortnikov [FSB Director] we just examined some samples of modern technology which allow you to work in the information field. But these are not everything, even though this is a very important area.
I also want to emphasise that despite the negative impact of the financial crisis and a fairly difficult budgetary situation, this year funding for the Service will be sufficient to allow it to equip its units with modern weapons and technology. We need to address these issues, otherwise we will lag behind.
In keeping with the government’s economic opportunities, the salary of FSB employees should increase along with their degree of social protection. This is also one of our key priorities. We have created and will continue to develop a unified system of health care for the special services. We continue to engage in building new housing for military personnel, as well as purchasing apartments on the second-home marke, depending on the situation in the regions. This practice will continue.
And naturally an indisputable priority for us remains providing all-round support to families of dead and wounded officers of the FSB and other law enforcement agencies.
Dear Colleagues, this year we will celebrate the 65th anniversary of Victory. Needless to say, your harmonious coordination with our other colleagues is the mainstay of the security of the festivities. In addition, we need to continue to publish archival materials and, last but not least, preserve the historical truth about the great Victory that was achieved at an incredible price for Soviet citizens.
By way of conclusion to my introductory remarks, I would like to thank the staff of the FSB for their service and courage in taking on special responsibilities and challenging assignments. On the whole the various FSB units accomplished their respective tasks in 2009. I hope that this will continue in the future.