President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Colleagues,
I wish you all welcome. This is a sort of ‘blitz visit’ I am making here in the Republic of Karachayevo-Circassia today. I think it was long since time to do this given that the republic has not received a visit from the country’s top leaders in a long time now. But such visits are important so that people living here, as in the other North Caucasus republics and indeed, throughout our entire vast country, feel that they are getting attention from the federal authorities.
I have not come alone. Here with me today is our new deputy prime minister and plenipotentiary presidential envoy to the North Caucasus Federal District, Mr Khloponin, who is directly responsible in the government for development in the North Caucasus and also has the job of overseeing coordination of the region’s law enforcement and security agencies and human resources work. We will discuss in brief the situation today. I will not over-dramatise it. The situation is quite clear. We know the problems and also the possibilities that exist. Mr Ebzeyev [President of Karachayevo-Circassia] briefed me just before on what you are doing now and on the work still ahead.
There are many problems. The biggest problems are social development, comprehensive strategies to resolve economic problems, and developing new industry, all the more so now, as we start emerging from the crisis period. In fact, strangely enough, the North Caucasus was less affected by the crisis in some ways, especially given the agricultural focus of the region’s economy. But in the agriculture sector too we also need to develop new enterprises, new production. We spoke just before about the situation with wool and meat. Unfortunately, there are other facts as well. You probably know, as Mr Ebzeyev informed me just now, that meat and potatoes are being brought in from somewhere in the Far East. We need to sort out this kind of situation. (Addressing Alexander Khloponin) I ask you and the Defence Minister to look into this matter and sort out what is going on, find out why the armed forces and law enforcement agencies are getting produce delivered from the other side of the country instead of buying local goods and thus helping the local people and producers. This is not the only problem, though it is very indicative of the kinds of issues we need to address.
Next, we need, of course, to keep developing the education and healthcare programmes that are very important for the North Caucasus, as you know. All of the work undertaken in these two areas therefore needs to be kept under direct presidential oversight.
Finally, there is the law enforcement issue, and in this respect our colleagues are here today – Mr Bortnikov, the director of the FSB, and other law enforcement officials. Clearly, we face a complex situation. This is something I spoke about in my Address to the Federal Assembly and on various other occasions. We need to pursue this work calmly, without hysteria, acting forcefully where necessary to suppress banditry and eradicate the armed underground. At the same time, we need to make efforts to help people who want to return to normal peaceful life find their places in society once more, and this is one of the most complex tasks before us.
As I said not long ago, the key to bringing order is not force alone, especially not today, when these last years have seen considerable effort to restore order and stability, but in carrying out social reform and resolving social problems. This is a vital task that the Government and the new deputy prime minister will address.
You spoke just now about the number of jobs created over the recent period. This is the most important thing. We need these qualified and modern jobs that earn people a decent income. We need to put all of the ‘modest resources’, as you termed them, at our disposal into these efforts. There are never enough resources and so we need to use what we have intelligently. Unfortunately, all too often, our resources are used ineffectively, and this is a problem at the federal level too. The federal agencies represented here today, and the regional agencies do not spend money in the most effective way, and so we need to give everyone a thorough shake-up and look at how our money is being spent.