Incidents » Conflicts
Author`s name Michael Simpson

Chechnya Revives

The Chechen prime minister is sure that the republic will be self-sufficient soon
The restoration of the social and economic field of Chechnya is one of the most important objectives of state policy to settle the situation in the republic. Anatoly Popov, the chairman of the Chechen government, answered reporters' questions in Grozny, the Chechen capital.

Mr. Popov, which goals do you consider to be most important ones for the time being?

There are so many of them it is even hard to enumerate them. Yet, I think that the major goal is to achieve a level at which Chechen citizens would feel full citizens of the Russian Federation. It is also extremely important to normalize the economic situation in the republic too.

How is compensation going to be paid to the families that lost their homes in the republic?

Preparatory work to pay compensations is being conducted very actively now. We have already developed instructions to pay state compensations to the republic's families, and a controlling committee has been set up as well. The committee consists of 23 members - spokespeople for the government and military departments of the republic and others. We handed over our suggestions for paying compensations to the federal intergovernmental committee. The payment scheme excludes the possibility of forgery or repetitions in receiving compensations. As is scheduled, each family member is to receive the price of 18 square meters of dwelling space, not depending on the kind of dwelling space. This is approximately 136,000 rubles per person. Targeted compensation will be paid only to those who lost their dwellings completely. Individual compensation will be paid to people whose apartments and houses were destroyed partially - they will be given either money or construction materials. Those people who have already managed to restore their residences will be given compensation after they present expenditure documents. The Russian government is to make an adequate decision after they consider our suggestions. I do not think that there will be any problems with money. The Russian Finance Ministry has all the funds for that.

There are a lot of unemployed people in Chechnya now. Is the government doing anything to settle the unemployment issue?

There are two main industrial branches in the republic that provide people with jobs. These are agro-industrial and construction industries. If they function normally, the unemployment problem will stop being acute.

A question about finances. Can you comment on the untargeted usage of the budget funds?

You probably mean the sum that has been previously divulged by the director of the Russian FSB, Nikolay Patrushev? Seven hundred million rubles?

Yes.

The situation is as follows. In 2001, when documents were prepared to administer social and economic fields in the republic, a mistake was made. On account of that mistake, several districts of the republic, including Grozny, the capital, found themselves outside the budgetary process. That is why the government of the republic had to transfer a part of the funds to those districts in order to pay wages to budget-related employees. That money did not disappear. The money was spent on paying wages to our people. Adequate decisions were made later on, and everything got settled down.

How do finances get assigned in the budget of the republic?

Our budget is absolutely transparent. It makes up 8.5 billion rubles. This is about 17 percent of the republic's funds. Grants from the country's budget make up the rest of it. I think that it is a good index of Chechnya's self-sufficiency. It is an open secret that we have certain republics in Russia that are subsided from the federal budget at the level of 95 or 97 percent. We have a huge potential. I think that the republic will be completely self-supporting in the future.

Is it going to be because of oil?

In addition to the oil industry, we have agro-industrial production developing very fast. In general, I think that they exaggerate the significance of the oil industry when they talk about the economy of the republic. Look at it yourself: We sow and reap, we plough and build. The cattle-breeding branch as well as the processing industry are developing too. This is the republic's first priority.

Nevertheless, how much oil does Chechnya extract?

A couple of years ago, we extracted about one million tons of oil a year. Nowadays, the index is at the level of one million and seven hundred tons. This number can grow, for we have high-quality oil, and almost all our oil is exported. Chechnya used to extract about nine million tons of oil during the Soviet era, whereas 20 million tons of oil were processed. We do not have an objective of retrieving such capacities now, since the situation has changed in general, as well as the infrastructure.

Are any significant changes occurring in the government?

This is a permanent process, the usual work. Some people come, some people go. Yet, we demand a lot from everyone. if someone does not meet the requirements, they have to go.

What is the situation in the healthcare industry like?

About 150 different medical institutions work in the republic. I am amazed at our doctors' heroism. People are doing their best under the conditions that Chechnya finds itself in today. We try to provide acceptable working conditions for them, and the restoration of hospitals continues. One of the most important questions for us at present is the construction of a new maternity hospital. In Grozny, nine babies are born each day. In addition, our ambulance services work even at nighttime now.

What is your attitude to sports, to football in particular?

The Chechen football team Terek will be in the supreme league (laughs). Seriously, there are no training opportunities for our football team here so far. Athletes will keep on training in the city of Kislovodsk. One cannot do everything at once, you know. We have to have certain conditions in order to have a football club here. First and foremost, one has to build a good stadium at an international level.

In the photo: Anatoly Popov

Andrey Pilipchuk
Narody Kavkaza

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