Russia: President Vladimir Putin attacks corruption

Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed his indignation at the high level of corruption in the south of Russia, and called for measures to combat it.

“One of the key problems is a restrained and bureaucratic business life in many regions of the Southern Federal District. There’s excessive interference by local authorities, local markets are monopolized, in fact closed to any activity from outside,” Putin said at a meeting with the heads of the regions of the Southern Federal District on Friday, Rossiya television reported.

“This is not only a problem of the south but this is a problem faced by the whole country. I would pay a particular attention to the south,” the President said, noting there were questions regarding the effectiveness of local law-enforcement agencies and law-enforcement spending in the south of Russia. He said terrorists and other extremist groups operating in the region destabilized the situation in southern Russia.

Dmitry Kozak, Putin’s representative in the Southern Federal District, also said urgent measures were needed to restore order in the law-enforcement system of the North Caucasus. He said proposals had been prepared to increase transparency and control over the region’s law enforcement bodies. A research by Transparency International-Russia rated the Southern Federal District the most corrupt among the regions of the Russian Federation.

On Tuesday next week, Putin will appear in a live call-in TV program, which will be broadcast by Channel One and Rossiya. This will be the fourth time that Putin goes on air to talk to Russian people. The previous call-in programs took place in 2001, 2002 and 2003. Putin’s rating remains high. Fifty five percent of Russians said they would vote for Putin if the presidential election was held in September, showed an opinion poll by the All-Russian Public Opinion Research Center.

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