President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Ms Pamfilova, the last time we held a meeting of the Presidential Council for Civil Society Institutions and Human Rights, we agreed that we should pay particular attention to the situation in the Caucasus. And I think that today it is entirely appropriate that we talk about that.
You have recently returned from a trip to the Caucasus, where you interacted with different social groups, with representatives of various political forces. In general terms I said everything that had to be said on this subject in my Presidential Address [to the Federal Assembly]. Our policy in the Caucasus must be reasonable, it must be up to date, it must involve different people in various processes, helping them with socialisation, but at the same time it must naturally work to prevent terrorist acts and unbridled crime and corruption, which are also endemic in the Caucasus. What are your impressions and what recommendations do you have to make?
CHAIRPERSON OF THE PRESIDENTIAL COUNCIL FOR CIVIL SOCIETY INSTITUTIONS AND HUMAN RIGHTS ELLA PAMFILOVA: Today all ordinary citizens, including those in the Caucasus, are mourning for the dead, and every sane person is thinking about what can be done to ensure that these terrible tragedies do not recur. I very much hope that the meeting that we are about to have can make a real contribution to this process.
Summarising the results of my trip and my contacts with those who live and work in the Caucasus, those who have to deal with these problems on a daily basis, I think we can more effectively combat terrorism by working together with law enforcement agencies and engaging civilians in this process. There is a great potential, a very strong desire to really help the federal authorities resolve these problems and at the same time provide more effective help for those who have suffered from terrorist acts.
Regarding the situation in the Caucasus, I noticed a very strong desire on the part of young people to be more fully integrated in Russian life, a desire for more legal awareness. People are ready for dialogue, people want there to be more mutual understanding. I think that there is great potential for solving this serious, very serious, terrible problem that we have. We have made enormous progress, but there are still enormous difficulties ahead. I want to say that there is very widespread support among NGOs and human rights organisations for your determination to restore legal order – to restore it in such a way that innocent people do not suffer in the fight against terrorists, that everything is done legally and transparently and that civil society is involved in the process.
Dmitry Medvedev: I think that this is the essential thing to achieve, although much remains to be done. You were right to say that people want a normal human life, no matter where they live: in the central part of Russia, the Caucasus or elsewhere. Our task, the task of federal authorities, together with the authorities of the Caucasus region, is to create such conditions. This is the only way that those who are trying to change their current lives will be able to adapt to a normal, modern way of living.
This task is even more difficult than tracking down and eliminating terrorists, than crushing down on the criminal underground. In recent years, in one form or another we have learned to cope with these things. And the operations that have taken place in the Caucasus have had the desired effect: we have destroyed terrorists and we will continue to destroy them. But it is much harder to create the right kind of modern environment for education, for doing business, for overcoming cronyism, which has been part of the Caucasus for several centuries, and, of course, for confronting corruption, which, as I have repeatedly said, has acquired unparalleled dimensions there.
Dealing with all these things is much more difficult, but it is our task and we must continue to pursue it, just as we will continue to restore order by force. This is a dual-purpose task, but it is the only way to achieve progress and the only way to ensure the development of our country in the years to come.