President Putin has praised the performance of Chechnya’s government under the leadership of the republic’s president, Ramzan Kadyrov. Putin’s comments came during a meeting of Russia’s Public Chamber on May 16, when he responded to a report on the situation in Chechnya given by chamber member Leo Bokeria, a leading Russian cardiologist who recently visited Chechnya. Newsru.com quoted Putin as saying that he is happy with the way Chechnya’s government is working and promising that he will issue instructions on improving the republic’s health care system. The fact that rebuilding is taking place in Grozny “testifies to the fact that the leadership of the republic is in place and working effectively,” Putin said, adding: “We were long criticized for the fact that Grozny was not being rebuilt. But we could not begin to do that while the issues of security remained unresolved.”
According to Newsru.com, Bokeria told Putin that Grozny today is, in Bokeria’s words, “a garden city.” “The airport there is repaired and rebuilt; people are happy with the situation,” Bokeria said. Putin asked him: “Are they working day and night?” After receiving an affirmative response, Putin said: “That really is a reason to rejoice.” Bokeria added, however, that as a result of “the long warfare” in the republic, there is “a very large accumulated rate of illness among the population,” and that the republic’s hospitals are not operating up to standards. Bokeria called for building a model republican hospital in Chechnya, saying that this “would be important for the whole region [and] would become a model for the North Caucasus in general.” Putin assured Bokeria that he would order his cabinet “to see what can be done” in this regard.
Kadyrov, meanwhile, was quoted as saying that Chechnya has played a crucial role in preventing foreign intelligence agencies from undermining Russia. Vremya novostei reported on May 16 that Kadyrov made the comment on May 13 during a visit to Nalchik, the capital of Kabardino-Balkaria, where in October 2005 rebels reportedly under Shamil Basaev’s command launched an uprising in which more than 130 people died. “In fact, Chechens have defended Russia from those who wanted to tear it down via the Caucasus,” Kadyrov said. “The Chechen Republic was a test territory; foreign special services wanted to see how confidently they could … oppose Russia from the south. And we proved that this would not work. It is not a problem to lift up the economy; the most important thing is not to allow enemies to draw youth into the chaos of war.” (For more about Kadyrov’s trip to Kabardino-Balkaria, see Andrei Smirnov’s article below.)