Vladimir Putin’s Press-conference
ORT television company:
There are people in Russia that have not yet determined their political views for themselves, that did not join this or that political party. Maybe, they will become something like an easy prey for those political forces that offer simple solutions of complicated problems, like it happened in France. Do you think there is a threat that extreme political parties will attract masses of electors on the threshold of elections and what can be done in order not to let the extreme ideology find the support in Russia?
First of all, Russia is not France and we have a lot of things that resemble the situation in Western Europe, but this is a different country and the situation is different as well. I think that the major political forces of Western Europe are coming to certain conclusions for themselves on the ground of what is happening in connection with a shift to the right. I paid attention to those alarming symptoms in conversations with my colleagues. It happened in Germany, in Holland, in France. I think it is not our business to interfere or to express our evaluation. I think it is connected with a certain fault in the priorities of home policy, like a certain human being of a certain country gets lost amid human values. This leads to such results. As far as Russia is concerned, I do not see such a threat. In my opinion, such a threat can be formed when country’s leadership does not pay attention to the needs of its population, does not solve those issues, or ignores them. I think that our major goal is to pull Russian out of poverty, to make people feel safe here, and make Russia’s international prestige grow. We are working in this direction gradually, but not as fast as we would like to. We want to explain to the people of the country what we do, to clarify those goals that we set. I think that if this continues in the future, then there will be the adequate reaction from the population, then the country's political forces will have their support, but we will not get any extremism in Russia. There is another circumstance that I would like to pay your attention to. This is the wrong way to put opponents in illegal position. Thank God, the representatives of all political movements have a possibility to express their opinions legally, to strive for their points of view, to struggle for electors. Thirdly, we have to strengthen the multy-party system. The parliament of the country has passed the law about it, this law starts living, it will work from territories, from regions, which is very important, because the parties must show their influence on the regional political life. Everything is being done without any haste, taking into consideration the readiness and opportunities of the region to the introduction of this multy-party system on the regional level. If all this continues its realization in the future, then I do not see any radical threat for Russia.
Chechen television and radio network Khladov:
The so-called myth about Chechens, the negative myth is a serious moral and psychological damage for Chechens and for those, who live beyond the borders of the republic. Do you think it is possible to dissipate it? We have another question – is it possible to amend the system of cleansing procedures in Chechnya, in order to make them not so painful for civilians?
Speaking about the negative image of the Chechen nation. The Chechen people are not guilty of anything about it. I think that it is the guilt of the federal center, because the Chechen people were left to the mercy of fate. We will not be looking for certain guilty people, but it is clear that Russia’s state machine has not worked. What can a common Chechen citizen do, when an armed gang of 100-200 people enters a village? Even when there is a Kalashnikov in every Chechen house? They cannot do a thing with that Kalashnikov and the state turned out to be unable to protect the interests of the Chechen people. Extremist fanatics used that, was there anything in common between the bandit incursion in Dagestan of 1999 and Chechnya’s interests? There was nothing in common. Were those people protecting Chechnya’s interests? They used Chechens as the living shield. It is a tragedy today, I repeat, there is no point to look for the guilty, we have to look at the reality. Yes, there is that negative image, unfortunately, but we have to dissipate this perception, this image of the enemy, of the terrorism, and there are a lot of reasons for it. We are to blame. You know it very well that they do not talk and write much about the heroism of Chechen volunteers or Chechen police that was shown in the beginning of the struggle with extremists, by the way. The latest event – the elimination of Khattab – it became possible owing to the direct participation of the Chechen population. There are other examples to illustrate Chechens’ efficient work to oust terrorists and establish peaceful life. One has to talk about it more and that’s all. This is everyone’s goal – yours and ours, and everyone’s who is in this room today. Now speaking about cleansing procedures. They cannot be amended, they should be stopped. This will become possible only after strengthening the Chechen administration, its legal, military, and judicial constituents. The military constituent is the establishment of capable bodies of home affairs. This work is being conducted actively now, this is the next step of the normalization of the situation in Chechnya. Only Chechens must defend Chechnya. It goes without saying that this cannot be done quickly, but let’s remember the time, when everyone was saying a year or two ago, that there would be no Chechen person found, who would support the federal forces. We have forgotten about it today, because the Chechen people are actively supporting the efforts of the federal center for the establishment of law and order in their fatherland. We have to give them the opportunity to do it with the help of guns in their hands. This will take a lot of time and energy, but this work is being done now. I believe that this work is to be completed by the end of the current year, then we will move over to the next step of the normalization, I mean the constitution of the Chechen republic.
I would like to ask you about the internal Russian problem, which is still the talk of the day, this is the problem of corruption and at the same time the problem of irresponsibility within Russian law-enforcement bodies. My friends and I see that daily in the streets, when we have to communicate with police officers, the people that are called juridical persons have to deal with that daily at courts. Why don’t your words about the need of humanity work for the law-enforcement system, why do those people that exist for tax-payers’ money rook those tax-payers? Can you do anything about it?
The issues of criminality, struggle with criminality are certainly the issues that have to be solved by law-enforcement bodies, but not only them. Law-enforcement bodies are a part of our society and the society must be more mature, cultivating certain values, penetrating into the mind of the population. It would not be correct to blame them for everything, because we would not see the roots of the criminality. Those roots are in the social sphere, in the political sphere, that is why the struggle with criminality is the complex of measures that have to be taken by the state within rather a long period of time, we cannot do it in a simple way. What could be said about the struggle with criminality, when we had the whole regions of our country, which allowed themselves to create unimaginable anarchy? What could be said about any laws or any observation of those laws, when there was no federal treasury in several regions for almost ten years, when no taxes were paid to the federal treasury? This is the indication of the absence of the unity of the state. A lot of things happened and we did not notice them, or turned a blind eye on them. Everything that I was saying created a good base for talking about the absence of state mechanisms and instruments. The law-enforcement sphere is in need of the reconstruction. We are trying to do it, not everything works out, but we will keep on increasing those efforts. Speaking about the perfection of laws, you know that the new administrative code has been approved together with new rules for road police. Speaking about public security police, which are the closest to the population, I believe that they have to be closer to the regional level of administration. We have recently discussed this issue with the home minister and he made the decision, pursuant to which police chiefs will consult governors, the purpose of the police services will depend on the regional level of the administration. There are other measures that would shorten the distance between the public security system, the population and the regional administration. This all will take time and efforts, we will keep on working in this direction.
Kursky Vestnik newspaper:
Vladimir Vladimirovich, your ill-wishers keep on reminding you that the cult of the president is growing in Russia. It would be very curious to know your personal attitude to the process of “putinization” of the whole country. Doesn’t it flatter you, when your incidental slips of the tongue become so relevant for the country, when they paint your portraits on…. (Putin is interrupting)
On eggs? I do not know who paints what on eggs, I have not seen that. I have recently read an article in a newspaper, they wrote that someone was opening bars that carried my name. What can I do about it? A Russian official is an inventive person. There are state symbols – the flag, the national anthem. The president is also a symbol of the country to a certain extent, but never personified, everything should be within reasonable limits, but this depends on the level of the common culture in Russia. There cannot be anything done about it. My attitude to it is negative.
To be continued
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov
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Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/main/2002/06/24/43122.html