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Address at the Unveiling of a Memorial Stone at the Place of a Future Monument to the Soldiers of the 6th Company, 76th Guards Division, who Died as Heroes in Chechnya

August 2, 2000, Pskov

Vladimir Putin: Today is at once a sad, but momentous day. It is appropriate to recall that exactly a year ago terrorists launched a brazen attack on Dagestan. It came as a surprise to many, but not to all. Actually, it is our fault, the fault of the country’s leaders, the armed forces and the law enforcement bodies that it came as a surprise for the majority of the country’s population. Of course, there were those who did not notice what was happening or pretended not to notice, but it was clear to many that an undeclared war – no less than that – had been waged against Russia for a long time, for several years. Terrorists made forays into this land, preparing in fact for a full-scale offensive, which happened a year ago.

We have a habit of putting even the most urgent matters on the back burner. The Government did not have enough guts to tackle the problems confronting it. This lack of understanding on the part of the state and lack of understanding among the populace of what was happening allowed pseudo-states such as Ichkeria or the Kadar zone in Dagestan to be formed. Our resolute actions aimed at restoring law and order, the Constitution, the rights of citizens, protecting their legitimate interests and lives put an end to the process of disintegration of the state which had started. The armed forces played a great role in this. Today we have to pay a high price, but it is not in vain. The sacrifice has not been in vain.

Today we bow our heads to the 6th Company, to all our servicemen whom we can rightly be proud of and who spared nothing, not even their lives, to defend the interests of their country. Our warmest thanks to the loved ones, relatives, mothers and fathers of all those who died in this war. You have brought up genuine sons of Russia.

Eternal glory to the 6th Company, eternal glory to all those who gave their lives for Russia.

August 2, 2000, Pskov