President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: My visit to Daghestan is of course linked to recent events. Moreover, a terrorist attack occurred yesterday in Kizlyar, killing our comrades. I suggest that we honour their memory by a minute of silence.
This is a painful, very painful incident. Naturally they died defending our nation, they gave their life for ordinary people, and protected them from the scum who kill our people in the dirtiest, most vile possible ways. Their deaths were not in vain.
I signed an executive order conferring state decorations. Islam Baykishiyev, Vitaly Vidernikov, Sergei Kazhurin, Boris Konovalov, Umalat Musayev, Husein Omarov, Magomed Saidov, Makhach Sharudinov and Vasily Yurikov have been awarded the Order of Courage.
With regards to financial support, in accordance with my instruction yesterday and as the Government has already announced, money will be paid to these and other victims of terrorist acts. But today I specifically instruct the Interior Minister to resolve the problem of providing improved housing for the families of the victims, and to do so comprehensively, taking into account their needs. Each case requires a personalised decision. Then report to me.
Now, regarding today’s meeting. All the regional leaders of the North Caucasus Federal District and heads of federal law enforcement agencies – Prosecutor General’s Office, Interior Ministry, Federal Security Service – have been invited to attend. Its topic is obvious and you have already discussed what we can and should do. Recently, we have had some successes in the fight against terrorism: we were able to take the heads off the most notorious gangsters.
But apparently it was not enough.
In any case, in due time we will find and punish them all. Just like their predecessors. This is the only way.
Some time ago, last year, I held meetings in Makhachkala and Stavropol regarding the fight against crime and terrorism. Since then some time has passed and we have seen certain achievements while some very serious problems remain.
In addition, this work is tributary to a number of social and political processes taking place in our country. We are reforming the Interior Ministry and as a result of this reform, we should have a stronger, more professional ministry with new staff who benefit from better training. It will be financed differently, which should allow us to pay higher wages. Other equipment and, naturally, different training processes will be used.
But the Caucasus is unique and decisions that will be implemented by the Interior Ministry in the Caucasus should be taken with special care. First of all, they must not alienate people who risk their lives daily, those who serve in the relevant ministries and offices in the North Caucasus. So I’m waiting for proposals on this subject from the [Interior] Minister and the heads of regions on how to carry out these reforms and which configuration [of the law enforcement agencies] would be optimal for the North Caucasus. We must also investigate all issues of social benefits and guarantees for those who serve in the Ministry of Interior, other law enforcement agencies, the FSB [Federal Security Service], and other units as well.
Yesterday I signed an executive order on a comprehensive transport safety system aimed to protect our people. But if we talk about the future, in addition to creating this comprehensive system of protection which is to be fully in place within three years while the first and largest changes will be accomplished in a year, we all need to think about a general protection, supervision and warning system adapted to local specifics and, of course, to your work here in the North Caucasus. So I also look forward to your suggestions on how to better protect our people.
There’s another issue: how to coordinate attempts to deal with terrorist acts. We have created a special body, a National Anti-Terrorist Committee which is the headquarters [for such coordination] and we should assess its performance. It is clear no single agency is perfect. I am looking forward to proposals from the Director of the Federal Security Service [Alexander Bortnikov] in this regard.
We need to look at legal and other operational issues involved in the fight against terrorism, issues related to the investigation of and trials for such cases. I spoke on this subject both last year and two days ago, and now we can discuss what is happening and what could be done in this area. In principle it is possible to introduce some very important changes but only if they are going to be effective.
”Recently, we have had some successes in the fight against terrorism: we were able to take the heads off the most notorious gangsters.“
In a certain sense every nation that fights against terrorism must determine what means are permissible in this regard. In all likelihood, the list of such methods — not only for our country, but in general — should be lengthened, and the methods themselves must be both more effective and more rigorous, one might even say harsh. The point is to preempt these incidents, to prevent terrorist acts and to punish terrorists.
At the same time, I have repeatedly said that what is crucial is a comprehensive solution for the problem, namely by virtue of improvements in economic and social spheres. In addition to economic and social programmes, there is a moral dimension. Murder is a sin in any religion, in Islam, in Christianity, in other world religions, and this gives us an opportunity to work with very different people. This is the main task of the Government of the Russian Federation and Deputy Prime Minister and Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy [to the North Caucasus Federal District] Alexander Khloponin. I look forward to proposals for new programmes, funding options, new facilities, the creation of new clusters, as they’re called, new economic sectors and new jobs.
Everyone who cares about life in the Caucasus needs to deal with these issues and facilitate the conditions for improvements, but on the other hand we need to encourage those capable of loosening their purse strings and “losing” a certain amount of money for the purposes of financing their own republics. It’s not enough to invest in Moscow and abroad – we need to pay our debts in our own country.
There’s another thing that I would like to mention: the humanitarian component, the moral and spiritual dimension of these issues. Throughout the world these are not just empty words, and this is particularly true in the Caucasus. Islam and Islamic spiritual leaders play a special role in this region. Last year I said that we need to help them, that we need to do everything possible to strengthen their authority. It is they who must bear witness to the truth, be spiritual leaders and act as authorities for the people.
I look forward to the help of regional leaders and the support of law enforcement agencies, and businesses are expected to help as well.
Over the past few days I have spoken on the phone to various leaders, the heads of different countries. Many of them, in fact almost every leader who phoned, have seen their countries be victims of terrorist attacks – you’ve read the news, you’ve heard the details. This is a manifestation of solidarity. We need to think about how to make concerted efforts together with other countries, but the main responsibility lies with us. And this can be summarised as five main challenges.
First, we must strengthen law enforcement and extend the power of the Interior Ministry, the FSB and other security forces, as well as help the courts.
Secondly, we must continue to strike sharp blows against terrorists, to destroy them and their safe havens.
Third, we must help those who have decided to break off relations with the bandits.
Fourth, we must address economic and social development, and promote education, culture and humanitarian programmes.
And this leads to the fifth point: we must strengthen moral and spiritual values and assist religious leaders as I suggested.
Only by working simultaneously in all of these five areas can we successfully deal with this challenge. Will we be successful? I am sure that we will. There are more of us, we are stronger, we hold people’s fate in our hands, and most importantly the truth is on our side.
Let's move on to our discussion.
I have a couple of words more to say on issues that seemingly have no direct relationship to what we are discussing today, but which are very, very sensitive.
The first problem is the incidents’ coverage in certain media. I think that our media should not divide society in this fight against terror. If they do we will be seriously weakened and the nation that we are in the process of remaking will turn into a mess.
You can’t fight against criminals with the lives of ordinary people. The very idea is immoral and simply disgusting: no civilised country in the world that is trying to combat terrorism would attempt such a thing. It is a question of culture, but I would like to see our colleagues who are doing very important work draw attention to it.
And second, there’s something that has nothing to do with the news but something that affects everyone and that is the wording used in these news reports. This is a very sensitive topic. Everyone must understand – and not just understand but use the appropriate terminology – that people who live here in the Caucasus are the citizens of our nation, not ‘immigrants’ from the North Caucasus.
This is not a foreign province — this is [part of] our country. A huge number, the vast majority of people who live here are normal, honest and decent, but there are some criminals as well. Of the people living in all other parts of our country the overwhelming majority are normal and perfectly decent people, but there are some criminals too.
On this issue, we should have no delusions. We need to use the correct terminology, we need to speak properly and in no case should we offend people.