Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Saturday that extremists in the restive North Caucasus region had been “vanquished” and the fight now was against corruption and poverty.
“The state must prove it is capable of guaranteeing security and must make a breakthrough in the economic and social development in North Caucasus,” he said at a meeting with leaders from the region.
“Corruption, poverty, unemployment, negligence … these are the things that hinder a normal life in the Caucasus,” he said.
The former president and a key player in the Second Chechen War (1999-2009) slammed regional authorities “who distance themselves from local problems, fuel corruption and incompetence, create administrative barriers and take part in feuds between clans”.
He also warned that local officials could lose their jobs if the new administrator of the North Caucasus thought them inefficient.
On Tuesday, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev appointed a powerful new envoy to the North Caucasus tasked with boosting development in a new district that groups the country’s most violent regions.
The shake-up reorganised the Kremlin’s management of its southern region, separating out seven mostly Muslim regions including Chechnya where Moscow is battling a low-level Islamist insurgency, from more stable parts.
Medvedev named Alexander Khloponin, the current governor of the Siberia region of Krasnoyarsk, as his new envoy to North Caucasus Federal District, a post that also comes with the rank of deputy prime minister.
The new federal district includes Chechnya, Dagestan, Ingushetia, where insurgency violence has picked up in recent months, as well as the neighbouring territories of Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachayevo-Cherkessia, North Ossetia and the Stavropol region.