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Official website of the President of Russia

Transcripts   /

Remarks at the Start of a Meeting with Government Members

May 30, 2000, The Kremlin, Moscow

Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon. Today we are having our regular working meeting. But before we proceed to discussing current issues, I would like to thank the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, all the government agencies of the Russian Federation, and the non-governmental organisations which were involved in and secured the release of five Russian crewmen shot down over Angola about a year ago.

There were eight victims in all. One died when the plane crash-landed, one died in captivity, one man is missing and five have been released. They are now in Zambia, where the Russian Emergencies Ministry will send a plane, and on the first of June, all five men will be back in the Russian Federation.

It must be said that this was the result of intense work by the Foreign Ministry and some non-governmental organisations and the special services. Let us hope that there will be no more incidents of this kind. I would like to draw the attention of the Foreign Ministry, the Defence Ministry, the Government as a whole and the special services to the use of various aircraft and marine vessels flying the Russian flag for commercial carriage of cargoes that are not connected with the interests of Russia. From time to time these companies, and consequently the people who work for them, find themselves in complicated situations while not performing any tasks for the Russian government, and then turn to Russia for help. And some of them, as we know, when they get into trouble are not even citizens of Russia at the time of the conflict, and then take Russian citizenship in order to get Russia to protect them.

Of course, Russia will take care of its citizens in all cases and under any circumstances. I simply want the heads of agencies and ministries to be aware that we should clearly understand where Russian interests are involved and where they are not. And they should behave and assess the situation accordingly.

Once again I would like to thank the Minister and all those who took part in securing the release of Russian citizens. And now let us move on to our current agenda.

May 30, 2000, The Kremlin, Moscow