6 november 2008

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin met with the President of Dagestan Mukhu Aliev

Vladimir Putin

Meeting with the President of Dagestan Mukhu Aliev

"We shall dramatically increase the Culture Ministry budget next year, with an emphasis on restoring such monuments as the Derbent fortress".

Vladimir Putin: You say, Mr Aliev, the social and economic situation has been steadily improving in Dagestan despite a global financial and economic crisis?

Mukhu Aliev: Right, there are certain improvements. Commodity and service output increased by 20% in the first nine months of the year, industrial output by 23%, agricultural by 5.4% and investment in basic assets by 27.4%.

We have commissioned more than 500,000 square metres of housing, and are going to commission another 850,000 before the end of the year. 17 schools have been built this year, and 57 medical institutions: 42 first aid stations in rural areas and 15 hospitals and outpatient clinics. A cardiology centre will soon open in Makhachkala.

Public incomes have risen by 22% to monthly 10,000 roubles per capita. This is considerably higher than incomes were just a few years ago. Consolidated budget revenues rose by 38.6% within nine months-more than 15 billion roubles this year against 4 billion three years ago.

The most important achievement is that unemployment is falling for the first time in recent years. We created 5,000 new jobs last year, and 9,400 in the first six months of 2008.

We have major investment projects. Total private investment volumes reach 32 billion roubles. We showed you our most successful projects when you visited our stand at the Expo in Sochi.

There are serious problems as well. Dagestan still falls behind according to a number of parameters. At 21.6%, unemployment is our worst problem. 16.6% of the population have incomes below subsistence level.

There are also problems in the social sphere, healthcare, education and pre-school institutions. So it's crucial to maintain our current growth rate. It has been high enough to reduce our lag behind the average for the Southern Federal District by 7-10%.

The political situation is steady, on the whole, mainly due to economic improvements, growing public incomes and new jobs.

We are stepping up efforts against religious and political extremism. The crime rate came down by 19% against last year's within nine months. The number of grave crimes is also decreasing.

Problems with religious and political extremism still persist, however. There are seven dangerous groups in the republic under our close watch. We still have a lot of work ahead to prevent extremism.

Sensational crime investigation also leaves much to be desired. A majority of such crimes committed last year and this year remain unsolved. We will do our best to tackle all those problems.

Vladimir Putin: What about the Makhachkala citadel? Is the reconstruction going on?

Mukhu Aliev: Yes, it is. The Derbent fortress, 5,000 years old, is also under reconstruction. Derbent recently won a UNESCO prize as one of the world's most tolerant cities, with three coexisting religions.

Vladimir Putin: I know it, I have been to Derbent.

Mukhu Aliev: The works are on.

Vladimir Putin: Is the Culture Ministry funding the reconstruction?

Mukhu Aliev: Yes, it is.

Vladimir Putin: Is the money coming on time?

Mukhu Aliev: Yes. Dagestan has more than 8,000 historical and cultural monuments, of which more than 6,000 are under state protection. The federal centre finances several dozen of them.

Vladimir Putin: We shall dramatically increase the Culture Ministry budget next year, with an emphasis on restoring such monuments as the Derbent fortress.

Mukhu Aliev: We have many monuments clustered along a motorway being laid on your instruction through a tunnel up to Botlikh. The work is very active. Thank you. Many outstanding historical monuments on tourist routes are also being restored from Makhachkala to the Georgian border-outstanding Christian, Muslim and pagan cultural monuments.

Vladimir Putin: What about gasification of the area?

Mukhu Aliev: During your visit to Dagestan in February we arranged for the Botlikh District to be fully gasified next year. I recently visited Gazprom head Alexei Miller to discuss this issue once again.

A gas pipeline branch will be laid next year to Tsumada, and the Tsumada District will be gasified in 2010, also on federal allocations according to an agreement with Mr Miller.

Vladimir Putin: What about villages along the Botlikh pipeline? We have agreed on their gasification, too.

Mukhu Aliev: That's right, all five districts along the pipeline will get gas before 2010. Blueprints are being made.

Vladimir Putin: Good.

Mukhu Aliev: The tunnel will be finished next year. Five billion roubles has been allocated for the construction.

Vladimir Putin: Is the work on?

Mukhu Aliev: Yes, very actively. Thank you very much.