A May 9 terrorist attack in Grozny which killed the Chechen president, Akhmad Kadyrov, has posed a number of serious problems before the republic. Just back from the Chechen capital, Vladimir Yakovlev, the presidential envoy to the Southern Federal District, described to a correspondent of the Russian newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta his view of ways of resolving it.
QUESTION: Do you not fear that the situation in the republic will be further destabilized after the terrorist attack?
ANSWER: Indeed the situation in Chechnya is not simple today. Akhmad Kadyrov was sincerely committed to peace. He did not make overtures to the bandits, but did everything possible to free Chechnya of bandit formations. Kadyrov held back religious extremists and countered the formation of a so-called Wahhabi state. Speaking of the prospects of settlement of the conflict, however, they are enshrined in the constitution of Chechnya, which was adopted during Kadyrov's lifetime, too.
We felt how tense the situation is in the two days we spent in Chechnya. I had meetings with the public, muftis, power structures and the government, and I have every reason to say that this misfortune rallied the people together. People saw change under Kadyrov and want the path of development taken by him to be continued. It is necessary to address more vigorously payment of compensations for lost housing, and problems of housing construction, engineering services, and demining. The need is to start restoring cultural facilities, including the theater, which has always been the pride of the republic.
It is necessary to render all-round support to cabinet chairman Sergei Abramov, who is now doubling as president of the republic.
QUESTION: Will the Kremlin's positions not weaken in Chechnya following the Dynamo stadium tragedy?
ANSWER: The Kremlin's prestige is not at issue here. It is important to draw correct conclusions from what happened, to weigh up and understand what needs to be done to prevent anything similar taking place in future. Here the efforts of security-related structures will not be enough. As normal life is being revived, everything is essential - economics, education, and culture. These were the things we discussed during my trip to Chechnya. Problems are galore. The republic has a 56 per cent unemployment rate. Yet many people have stayed on, spending more than ten years in conditions of hostilities and counter-terrorist fighting. All these "sweeps" no doubt have had their effect on the mood of the population.
Today, in order to reverse the situation, it is necessary to solve the problem of jobs. People should work in order to adequately support their families and grow children. Meanwhile, 27,000 babies were born in the republic last year. They should live under peaceful skies, see the bright sun, and have playgrounds, which, unfortunately, are still absent.
So let us begin with these things, and forget about the center's prestige.
Since the likes of the traditional Inauguration Day in the national Capitol are likely never to be witnessed again, take this opportunity from one who has been there to relate some truth about the experience