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Acting President and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin answered journalists' questions

February 22, 2000, Volgograd

Mr Putin told reporters that the Russian Army was accomplishing all military objectives set by the country’s political leadership in a highly professional manner. He praised the Russian Army for its combat operations in the Chechen Republic.

The acting president expressed his view that the effective counter-terrorist operation in Chechnya would have been impossible if the soldiers had not had the moral support of the people.

Mr Putin said the state must now care for the soldiers who were injured in Chechnya, and called on Russian businessmen to support housing-construction programmes for military personnel.

Commenting on the country’s current socio-economic situation, Mr Putin said ordinary Russians were now eking out a miserable existence, and most of them had not yet felt the positive effects of nascent industrial and economic growth.

Mr Putin admitted that he felt a heavy sense of responsibility for all the decisions made by him. He thanked the people of Russia for their trust in their leaders and promised to do everything possible to improve the country’s situation and strengthen its statehood. According to Mr Putin, the creation of a powerful state did not imply the creation of law-enforcement agencies that would dominate individuals. Instead, he stressed, it implied an effective, rather than just a powerful, state, which must guarantee the rights and freedoms of citizens.

February 22, 2000, Volgograd