The interview of the President was broadcasted by three federal TV channels: Channel 1, Russia and NTV.
The questions were asked by Kirill Kleimenov, Deputy General Director of Channel1, Dmitry Kiselev, Deputy General Director of the Russian National State-Owned TV and Radio Broadcasting Company, and Tatiana Mitkova, Deputy General Director of Channel NTV.
During the interview President Dmitry Medvedev of the Russian Federation answered a variety of questions relating to the war in the Caucasus, amendments to the Russian Constitution, military reform, Russian foreign policy and others.
One of the main events of the passed year was the Georgian invasion of South Ossetia. Dmitry Medvedev told how he was taking the decision to send our troops to defend Russian citizens in the Republic, and actually reconstructed the chronology of those events.
" I think that overall, the military campaign, which lasted only five days in all, showed that our measures were effective and also demonstrated the strength of our armed forces and strong spirit of our citizens and our soldiers. They dealt a full and irreparable blow to the Georgian military machine with only minimum losses. Our action restored peace in the Caucasus and, most importantly of all, brought protection to the tens of thousands of people. I think this was the only course of action we could take, and subsequent events proved that this was the right decision”, said the Russian President.
The Russian President told about the impact of the global economic crisis on the Russian economy. Dmitry Medvedev confirmed that despite the problems in the economy caused by the world financial crisis the Government does not intend to renounce its social obligations. The President flatly denied any possibility of a default.
"As for what awaits us in the future, I think that the situation is far from simple, but there is no cause for alarm or hysteria, and no reason to expect that we would end up having to take some kind of radical action. In this respect, we have no plans to carry out any of the measures you mentioned. Russia is able to pay its debts, and our level of internal debt is such that there can be no default, and we are not planning any re-denomination of the currency – it would make absolutely no sense. Regarding the rouble’s exchange rate, it must be effective and it also has to correspond to the real state of our economy. In other words, we need to maintain it within certain limits, but at the same time the exchange rate should be perhaps a little more flexible than it has been of late, so as not to give rise to internal economic problems. But whatever steps we take will be taken openly, and we will certainly ensure that this does not cause losses for our people.
The authorities cannot take the same of course of action as back in 1998, when decisions were made and people awoke the next morning to discover that they had been robbed and felt that they lost out very significantly indeed. We will pursue a predictable economic policy”, assured Dmitry Medvedev.
"At a time of crisis like this, the authorities must be not just attentive but also stay in constant contact with the population and take rapid and effective action. Of course we stand to lose something in this crisis: the growth rate and industrial output development we had planned. But what we must not lose under any circumstances are the social achievements we have made over these last years. We have put much effort into developing the social sector. I think that even in these difficult conditions we must not lose any of what we have achieved in the way of social support. By this I mean wage levels, people’s real income levels, and pension savings. It is probably the authorities’ most important and sacrosanct obligation at this time to ensure social support for our people”, said the President.
Besides, he reminded that Russian gold and foreign currency reserves are the third-biggest in the world. “This creates a decent safety cushion and gives reinforcement to our economy, financial and currency system”.
President Medvedev of the Russian Federation claimed that he is disappointed with delays in making the decisions by his Western colleagues with respect to the financial crisis, and urged them to accelerate their work.
"Until our colleagues come up with suitable remedies, the economy will continue to face difficulties. .. We need to act faster. I want to say frankly, and I hope some of our partners abroad will hear me, that things are not progressing as rapidly as we hoped. A number of the decisions we discussed in Washington have still not been taken, including on the participation of Russia and a number of other countries in special economic forums, but without these steps we will not be able to come up with decisions together. We need to work hand in hand”, claimed the Russian President.
In the opinion of the President “the current crisis has its roots in the state of affairs in America and a number of other big economies, and in an international financial regulation system”.
"We therefore need to do everything possible to ensure that the future configuration of financial relations, the future financial architecture, will be fairer, more modern and better suited to today’s conditions”, emphasized the President.
Dmitry Medvedev pointed out that inflation remains one of the problems that we failed to solve over these passed years.
"I can say frankly that we did not succeed in bringing down inflation before, though we did maintain decent macroeconomic indicators. Our economy is still insufficiently diversified. It should have been somewhat different if we have managed to do it over these last years”, he said.
"Our financial system is still in the process of development. Our stock market was growing exceptionally fast, but it is nonetheless still a developing market. These falls and drops that come in waves are a sign that our development has not gone entirely as we wanted”, added the Russian President.
Speaking about the foreign policy Dmitry Medvedev expressed his stand how it is necessary to protect Russian national interests in the international arena.
"I am firmly convinced that Russia must use every available means to protect its interests. Above all, it must use international law and act within the international organizations such as the United Nations and the regional bodies in which we take part. But when necessary, we also need to use our military possibilities. The world is full of contradictions and is far from straightforward. There are many internal conflicts in the world and also a great many threats such as terrorism and international crime. We need to ready to make a firm response, a military response, to these threats if necessary, because this is the only way to guarantee our country’s sovereignty”, claimed the Head of State.
He recognized that on occasions he does indeed sense attempts to ‘put Russia in its place’. “These attempts sometimes worked a while back when Russia was in a different situation, but in today’s situation, in today’s life, this is simply unacceptable”. For example, Russian does not like at all the desire of NATO have to expand the organization without limit. In the opinion of Medvedev, this does not contribute to international security. Therefore it is necessary to put in place new mechanisms that would guarantee the security of other states. “On issues such as this, as President of the Russian Federation I will always take a principled line, even if this is not to everyone’s liking.” Dmitry Medvedev pointed out.
As for the situations similar to the August events in the Caucasus “Russia will of course take firm and direct action”. “We will protect the interests of our citizens wherever they may be, and this in no way goes against international laws. This is the duty of any country and any leader”, emphasized the President.
The problem of the Russian-Ukrainian relations in the opinion of the Russian President consists in the political situation in Ukraine: “political establishment is unfortunately locked in endless confrontation between themselves”. “The situation in the gas sector is further evidence of the Ukrainian authorities’ ineffectiveness. Instead of incurring debts and then not paying them, it would be better to make a concerted effort to pay the debts, to find some effective solution to the problem. But instead they all start thinking up their own solutions and taking their separate stands. At times it is simply shameful to see. They need to pay every last rouble if they want to avoid having their economy hit by sanctions and demands from the Russian Federation. We cannot let this situation continue any longer. It is time for them to pay”, claimed Medvedev. “I do hope that Ukraine’s leadership will take the needed decisions and pay the debts, and we will be able to enter the New Year with a clean slate", he added.
According to the President the main goal of the reforms in the Russian Armed Forces is to make them more efficient, more modern, and the live of servicemen – more comfortable.
"The purpose is obvious – to make our Armed Forces more modern and effective, and to give our servicemen a more comfortable and better protected life”, said the President of the Russian Federation.
"Work on giving our Armed Forces a new appearance has continued over these last years and now has entered an important stage. Our objective is to create more effective, compact, and most important, more logical armed forces”, emphasized Medvedev.
The President stressed that the transition to a three-link command system within the Armed Forces with all available armed services and branches preserved will improve their combat capabilities.
Within the reform of the Armed Forces command and control architecture it is planned to change from a four-link (Military Command-Army-Division-Regiment) to three-link system (Military Command-Army-Brigade). Thus we abandon the division and regiment links and introduce a brigade link.
"Overall, these changes aim to make the Armed Forces more combat ready”, he emphasized.
According to the President from the next year money allowance of commissioned officers serving in the permanent combat-ready units may amount to 70,000 – 250,000 rubles per month.
"This money allowance will be comparable to what servicemen get in developed countries, which have already long since undertaken these kinds of reforms of their armed forces. We are talking about sums ranging from 70,000-250,000 roubles a month for officers, depending on their position and rank”, said Medvedev.
As the Supreme Commander-in-Chief he personally promised that the work will be done, taking a careful and balanced approach and without hasty decisions.
"In the case of people who leave active military service, they will have the option of taking employment in civilian posts within the Armed Forces and receiving free training and gaining a new qualification in military higher educational establishments”, added the President.
"As for the duration of compulsory military service, I want to say right away to put a stop to any rumors that nothing is going to change. The decisions that were taken will go ahead as planned”, said Medvedev.
For the full text of the interview of the Russian President Dmitry Medvedev you are welcome to the Official Website of the RF President.