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President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Mr Yevkurov, I would like us to focus on a wide range of issues today but let’s begin with unemployment, a subject that I think is crucial for Ingushetia and for our other republics in the North Caucasus. We have been taking certain steps and in some aspects our efforts have been successful but, unfortunately, in others they have not. This problem is most acute in Ingushetia, especially if you look at the unemployment rate among young people. This generates a variety of negative phenomena, including crime. What has been done and what problem are you facing currently?
President of Ingushetia Yunus-Bek Yevkurov: Unfortunately, we were not able to reduce unemployment in 2009. In fact, it grew by about two percent.
Dmitry Medvedev: It was difficult to do during the economic crisis.
Yunus-Bek Yevkurov: Yes, because of the crisis we had to cut over 700 jobs in the oil and gas industry. We were forced to take that decision because a company went bankrupt. But in those circumstances two percent was not a big increase. I believe the 2010 programme will stabilise the situation. We have created a number of new jobs.
Dmitry Medvedev: Where exactly?
Yunus-Bek Yevkurov: We have created a battalion made up of our local young men through the Ministry of Defence. We have created jobs in three organisations, including the Constitutional Court and the Veterans House. That is more than 70 jobs. In total we have so far created over 300 such jobs. In addition, since Rosneft oil company has started operation in the republic we have been setting up security for the oil complex, which will require about 80 people which is quite significant, especially for young people.
At the same time we acknowledge the fact that, if we take the data on young people, more than 40 percent of vocational school graduates are unemployed. According to last year's statistics, over 50 percent of university graduates are unemployed. I have appealed for help to governors of other regions of the Russian Federation, and now more than 40 people are employed there.
Dmitry Medvedev: In other regions.
Yunus-Bek Yevkurov: Yes, in other regions. I have written to them asking to employ two or three people in regional governments to help them gain experience.
Dmitry Medvedev: Good idea.
Yunus-Bek Yevkurov: More than 40 people have already got jobs there, and when they come back to Ingushetia they will have the necessary experience.
Dmitry Medvedev: It is a very good idea to send them to the regions where there is a lot to learn, so that when they come home they can look for management positions.
Yunus-Bek Yevkurov: By agreement with Sverdlovsk Region Governor, about 80 people are already working on farms and in agribusinesses there, and about 120 people are employed in construction. When I was last in the Sverdlovsk Region, I saw for myself that they are satisfied. We have agreed with local contractors and construction companies that we will send people to them to work. We are also discussing this with other Governors. So far we haven’t had great results but we are working on it.
Dmitry Medvedev: In any case, this is progress. Last year the situation was difficult throughout the country, and major problems accumulated in Ingushetia. This year, I hope the situation will gradually improve, especially with the help of the programmes you have mentioned.
In general, what are the atmosphere and the situation like?
Yunus-Bek Yevkurov: In general I would say that we have significantly stabilised the situation. Last year and at the start of this year it was difficult to say with confidence that we have succeeded in stabilising the situation. Not that we lacked confidence; we remained confident throughout. Of course, we expect attacks by militants, but we have made great progress in this regard, and it is the merit of law enforcement agencies, authorities and the public, which treats this with great understanding. We have prevention measures in place, and that is very important. Last year alone, we prevented 36 young people, and not only young people, from joining the militants. Six of them have already stood trials.
Dmitry Medvedev: And they have a chance to return to normal life.
Yunus-Bek Yevkurov: We always give them this chance, but, nevertheless, it must be stressed that this year ten people have joined the militants. We have analysed this and although it is generally assumed that people join the militants because of idleness or unemployment…
Dmitry Medvedev: Not always.
Yunus-Bek Yevkurov: It turns out that it is not true, all ten of them came from relatively well-off families, and some of them had university education.
Dmitry Medvedev: Their motives may be different, as they are different in other countries, by the way, but in any case, it is very important that the Muslim clergy works with the people to make sure that all sorts of dubious ideas that at times, and even often come to us from abroad, do not become attractive. It is an issue of regular work, regular communication with the people, and not just on the part of the authorities; it is a matter of creating normal conditions for the clerics, the imams themselves, and this is actually a very important issue.
Yunus-Bek Yevkurov: The work is going on, there is interaction with all Russian regions, including Chechnya and Daghestan. Just yesterday the Mufti and I inaugurated and gave interviews to a religious radio station, which will work 24 hours a day. We have a big problem with information networks and we do not have our own television channel.
Dmitry Medvedev: We must create it.
Yunus-Bek Yevkurov: We are currently drafting the concept. But we would be grateful if you could request the VGTRK [National State Television and Radio Company] to broadcast in the republic for at least eight hours a day.
Dmitry Medvedev: How many hours is it broadcasting now?
Yunus-Bek Yevkurov: Two and a half hours a day except Saturdays and Sundays.
Dmitry Medvedev: Why so little? Are you ready to provide what they require?
Yunus-Bek Yevkurov: Certainly.
Dmitry Medvedev: I will instruct the Communications Minister and the head of VGTRK to give consideration to this issue.
Yunus-Bek Yevkurov: That would be a great help.