President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Colleagues, this latest in our regular meetings is taking place during what has proven a particularly difficult week for our country. I therefore want to discuss with you first of all the political and other consequences of what has happened. I am referring of course to the terrorist attacks and the renewed activeness that terrorists unleashed this week. I have already expressed my view of the situation, and did so immediately.
As you know, I was in Daghestan yesterday, and so our meeting, which was originally scheduled for yesterday, was postponed until today. The situation in Daghestan is relatively stable and calm, but there is no doubt that the terrorist attack in Kizlyar is linked to the attacks in Moscow, and work is underway now to identify the individuals involved. The director of the FSB reported yesterday that the investigation is moving quite fast. We will see what the results are, but we are sure that the security services and Investigative Committee will do everything necessary to ensure a rapid and professional investigation and identify the guilty parties. As for the actual bandit dens, as I said yesterday, we will stick to our policy and will continue our operations to destroy them wherever we find them without hesitation.
In any country facing this kind of situation it is important to consolidate the views of all public groups on this issue. I am sure that you, the leaders of the country’s main political parties, the parties represented in our parliament, have no differences between yourselves on this matter. We realise, after all, that some try to sow dissent in the public consciousness in this situation, persuading the public that fighting these bandits poses dangers for ordinary citizens, and so we should abandon our combat. But this opens the way to a logic that, if we take it to its conclusion, could ultimately lead to our country’s disintegration.
I count on your cooperation in this situation. We will discuss this issue. I am sure that you all have your views on this matter of such importance for our country. In any case, I want to assure you that our country’s efforts, and my personal efforts as President and Commander in Chief, will concentrate on protecting our people and punishing the criminals.
Several important events have taken place since our last meeting in Zavidovo. The regional elections were probably the most important political event. I think they went smoothly and showed that our citizens want to take part in the electoral process by personally voting and thus having their say in shaping our country’s political future, down to the regional and municipal level. After all, government begins there, and not in the Kremlin. Government begins at the local level.
I think the results were balanced. You can draw your own conclusions, of course, but I note that in any case, all of the parties represented here consolidated their representation overall. I think this will be helpful in developing democracy in our country and nurturing political culture and voting culture too. This is important, because people need to be able to not just think about the country’s future but also know how to make choices. These are things we need to learn, things our voters need to learn. Voters usually make their choices based on their political preferences. This is an intellectual process. I therefore propose that we discuss the election results and look at what we can do to develop further the proposals I made in my Address to the Federal Assembly and the ideas that came out of the discussion that followed my article, Go, Russia! The time is right for an interim review of where things stand today. Of course, as is the practice at our meetings, I am ready to discuss any other issues you want to raise.
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Yesterday, when I met with the leaders of the regions in the North Caucasus Federal District, I also noted one particular issue, namely, the media. Of course, there is nothing so unusual in that the media criticise the law enforcement and security services and the authorities in general, all the more so when we are dealing with crimes of this nature. This is absolutely normal. This is not the issue. The issue is that in a civilised society it is not done to portray the fight against terrorism and civil society, people’s lives, as opposing things, because this can lead us to completely immoral conclusions. On this matter I am pleased to see that you see things the same way as I and my colleagues in the executive branch of power.
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I discussed the question of legal liability yesterday with my colleagues, and practically all the leaders of the Caucasus regions spoke in favour of criminal liability for accomplices. Strictly speaking, this liability already exists in our Criminal Code. Some of you have a legal background, and all of you are jurists in a way, since you all work in the parliament now, and so you are all aware of this fact.
But the liability of accomplices has varying degrees. In my view, in the case of terrorism crimes, we should follow a model in which any accomplice, even those who do no more than cook soup and wash clothes, is considered not simply a criminal but someone who has committed a clear and specific criminal act. This is the only way that we can have a hope of properly bringing these people to justice under criminal law. I think that in the case of these crimes there can be no leniency, no matter what the accomplices’ particular involvement, from those running round with rifles somewhere to those cooking the soup. In criminal groups this sort of distribution of roles is the usual situation, but we have not applied this model in such a way to terrorism crimes yet.
I draw our lawmakers’ attention to this issue. Maybe it would be worth amending the law in this respect. In any case, this is something we should reflect on. Maybe we could reformat the objective and subjective aspects of the crime defined as terrorism under article 205 of the Criminal Code. I wanted to bring this matter to your attention.
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The fight against terrorism begins with each and every one of us. All of our citizens need to play their part in this work. This is the way society is organised in countries that have lived with this danger for decades now, and we too, sadly, need to reflect on this issue, but this is a matter for a separate meeting.
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I want to come back to the main subject I outlined today – preventing terrorism. The social and economic situation in the North Caucasus is indeed very complicated, as Mr Zyuganov and other colleagues rightly noted. We think that the main key to a solution is to make a real effort to address social problems such as education, housing and unemployment, create jobs. This is all absolutely right. But I want there to be no illusions on this point among any of you here. When we say that this is the main thing this really is the case. But do not forget that terrorists around the world are often far from being the poorest and most neglected and miserable people. They are often wealthy and self-sufficient people, and it would be short-sighted to reduce terrorism simply to the dimension of social problems alone. Of course we need to bring order to the North Caucasus and ensure a normal life for the people there, but this is not all. Some people are never going to be able to be re-educated, and this is something you have said yourselves.
Our colleagues, with whom I spoke yesterday, people working there, were right in saying that it is also an issue of what is in people’s heads. This is the problem, and this is a separate issue, an issue linked to spiritual education, to what preachers are doing, to what kind of Islam or any other religion we have in our country. These are also things we need to keep in mind and areas in which we need to work.
You said that we should restore the death penalty and that people guilty of these kinds of crimes should be made to answer for their acts. The death penalty is a separate issue, and we have obligations in this regard. I can say to you quite frankly that if I had been in this job in the 1990s different decisions would have been taken, however, there is no point in going back over all of that now. But those responsible for these monstrous acts will pay with their lives, even without the death penalty.
Regarding the START-3 Treaty and a number of other issues, we will discuss these matters over a cup of tea. I will inform you of all the details, of course. The documents are ready and what we have is a balanced agreement. I simply want you to know this and so will inform you in more detail. Moreover, this document enables us to modernise all aspects of our strategic nuclear forces and remain a self-sufficient nuclear power. Any other scenario would have been unacceptable. But it is right that you show an interest in this matter, because this is something the parliament needs to be informed about.
In conclusion, I want to say that I really do sincerely count on your consolidated position on counterterrorism, because terrorism is a real challenge for our country and its existence. I hope that we will follow a common line on this issue, otherwise I will find myself forced to take decisions without taking your views into consideration, but I hope that this will not happen.