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ALEKSANDR V. KURTIN - First Deputy Chairman of the State Pension Fund of the Russian Federation

ANATOLY I. VYALKOV, Deputy Minister of Health of the Russian Federation

VLADIMIR M. FILIPPOV, Minister of Education of the Russian Federation

YURI A. KOSAREV, Chairman of the Social Insurance Fund

SERGEI V. KALASHNIKOV, Minister of Employment and Social Development



KALASHNIKOV: The operation of the social block is a part of the work of the Russian Government. We are directly cooperating with the provisional administration of the Chechen Republic, working under the guidance of Vice Premier Mr. Koshman.

I would like to speak about the following spheres of operation of the Ministry of Employment and Social Development. First, the issue of employment and incomes in Chechnya. We see our main task in giving jobs to the people, so that they would have normal sources of income. An employment department was set up in Chechnya, headed by Mr. Tsagolov. We approved a number of documents, in particular the provisional procedure for registering the unemployed, the provisional procedure for organising paid social work, and a list of social work done on the territory of Chechnya. Working jointly with the regional administrations, we determined the priority social jobs and are organising their fulfilment.

Over 2,000 people are involved in social labour in Chechnya. Most of them are servicing the migrant camps, restoring communal facilities, repairing roads in the Naursky and Shelkovskoi districts, and cleaning streets in Gudermes. They are paid for their work. We plan to create up to 10,000 social jobs in the first quarter of this year.

A total of 680,000 roubles were channelled into Chechnya in 1999 for the organisation of social jobs, 783,000 roubles were allocated for social work in the migrant camps in Ingushetia, and 2,217,000 roubles were provided for the organisation of social work and restoration of social infrastructure facilities in Chechnya.

As many as 23,000 additional social jobs have been created in Daghestan since August 1999, with 55.4 million roubles allocated for the purpose. Several days ago I issued an order on the provision of another 7.3 million roubles for the same purpose. Our task is to create 7,000 new jobs in the first quarter of 2000.

We are creating social insurance agencies, headed by Mr. Vakhayev. We are also restoring the entire system of structures vital for providing social insurance and social services to the population. Neighbouring republics, in particular North Ossetia, the Stavropol Territory and Ingushetia are greatly helping us in this sphere.

A total of 200,000 roubles were allocated for the prosthetic and orthopaedic assistance to Chechen residents. Such assistance was not provided in the past ten years, and so we have much to do to help disabled people.

We are beginning to pay child allowances, with 23.2 million roubles allocated for the purpose. Child allowances for October-December 1999 have been paid in the Nadterechny, Shelkovskoi and Naursky districts, and for November-December in the rural Grozny and Urus-Martan districts, as well as in the cities of Gudermes and Shali. The December allowances have been paid in the Achkhoi-Martan district. The allocations on child allowances as stipulated in the 2000 budget will be paid in full.

The placement of old people from the home for the aged in Grozny, who were evacuated in December 1999, has been completed. Some 60 old people were taken to the central regions of Russia, and 14 remained in Ingushetia.

We worked hard to organise the delivery of humanitarian cargoes to the Chechen Republic. Acting through the Ministry of Emergencies, the Ministry of Labour and Social Development delivered 732 tonnes of foods to the republic, including 163 tonnes of UN-provided assistance. We delivered 30.3 tonnes of medical equipment and sanitary-hygienic resources and 1,092 tonnes of other cargoes to the republic. We are discussing the additional delivery of non-foods worth 215,000 dollars with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and are negotiating the delivery of 92 tonnes of foods and medicines for Ingushetia and Chechnya with American non-governmental charity organisations.

This year the social infrastructure of Chechnya is to receive 300 million roubles from the federal budget.

FILIPPOV: We started to actively tackle the problem of general schools in October. Rural schools have not worked for three or four years and were completely ruined, standing without windows, floors or doors. In urban schools, in particular in Grozny, children studied by a curtailed programme, with only three or four lessons a day. Parents had to pay 50 roubles for primary education and up to 120 roubles for education in high schools a month, because teachers had not received wages for four years, although transfers for the payment of wages had been dispatched to the republic for a number of years.

By November 46 schools started working in the Nadterechny, Naursky and Shelkovskoi districts. As of now, 250 schools are working. Initially, we restored and repaired schools, sending 8,000 square metres of windowpane there. New Russian textbooks were delivered to the republican schools for the first time in the past four years. We sent 150,000 textbooks, 625,000 copybooks, pens and pencils, knapsacks, chalk and other implements to Chechnya, and have allocated money for the purchase of another 500,000 textbooks. Since it is impossible to repair all schools, we are tackling the problem of delivering children from outlying regions to the repaired schools. We have dispatched 14 mini vans, bearing the logo Children of Russia Programme, there. We are preparing to send another 30 vehicles for the delivery of children from the mountain regions to schools.

Teachers started receiving wages for the first time in the past three years. But we also have to retrain the teachers, too, as they had not worked for four years. We are launching a mass teacher retraining programme now.

The congress of the Russian Union of Rectors decided to help restore the system of vocational education in the republic. An enlarged collegium of the Ministry of Education will be held on February 1 to approve a programme of measures for the restoration of all levels of the educational system in Chechnya, including vocational training and technical schools, colleges and higher schools. Admission to higher, vocational training and technical schools will be resumed in Chechnya this coming summer.

VYALKOV: Only 16 out of the 27 hospitals are working in the six liberated regions, and then not to full capacity. Only 32 out of the 65 doctors' assistant and child delivery centres survived the war, and the number of medical establishments was halved. The disease rate went up in the republic for different reasons, including a shortage of medical staff.

We tackled the problem from two directions: by repairing the remaining medical institutions and providing them with a sufficient amount of medicines, medical equipment and qualified medical staff, and by dispatching specialists from the federal health care and research institutions to the liberated regions and organising temporary hospitals and outpatient clinics there. Requisite measures have been taken to ensure the stable work of first aid departments and stations. With this aim in view, we have dispatched medical vehicles, resuscitation cars, medical equipment and medicines to the republic.

We have elaborated a state programme of restoring medical care establishments in Chechnya and forwarded it to the government for approval.

There are three mobile hospitals, six outpatient clinics, and 32 medical specialists of the Federal Protection Centre of the Russian Ministry of Health in Chechnya. In all, the Ministry of Health has dispatched about 100 tonnes of medical property worth 20 million roubles to the republic since the beginning of the counter-terrorist operation.

The restoration of the republican medical schools will be of major significance, because there are only 45-50% of the required medical staff in the Chechen medical establishments now. As soon as Grozny is liberated, we will take priority measures to restore the medical department of the Grozny State University and medical schools. We have moved the Chechen students to the medical schools of nearby regions, namely to Rostov-on-Don, Krasnodar, Stavropol and Makhachkala. It will be very difficult for Chechen young people to pass examinations to medical schools, and this is why we will enrol them after they complete the preparation course.

The medical staff in Chechnya has received wages for October, November and December last year, and we are transferring their wages for January 2000. We are also helping doctors to upgrade their skills.

The Ministry of Health has created a special operational headquarters, guided by the first deputy minister, which is organising medical assistance in Chechnya. An operational group of the ministry is working in Chechnya.

KURTIN: Pensions are being paid now in the liberated Naursky, Shelkovskoi, Nadterechny, Gudermes, rural Grozny, Shali and Urus-Martan districts. In all, over 30,000 people are getting pensions. In the past few months we have regularly paid pensions to the tune of 35 million roubles. A part of Chechen residents who migrated from Chechnya to the Rostov Region, Ingushetia and Daghestan get their pensions on time. Initially, we paid minimum pensions of 360 roubles to them, but we started to make compensation payments in October and November. As of 1 February 2000, we will increase pensions by 20%, just as throughout Russia.

QUESTION: How many peaceful civilians are there in Chechnya now?

KALASHNIKOV: Experts say there were some 500,000 people in Chechnya as of 1 September 1999. Since then, slightly more than 200,000 left the republic, which means that there are about 300,000 people in Chechnya now. But the figure is probably larger, since the main migrant camps are located in Chechnya on the border with Ingushetia, and many migrants are returning to their homes now.

KOSAREV: We have established a branch of the Social Insurance Fund on the liberated territory, hiring local staff. We have begun payments for disease certificates, provided childbirth and pre-natal allowances, and money for the burial of the deceased and the killed. We purchased and distributed 97,600 New Year presents to Chechen children, and plan to improve the health of 3,000 Chechen children under 12 in the first quarter of 2000. The first group of 600 children was delivered to Adygeya on January 15, where they will have rest and treatment in local sanatoriums and attend schools there.

Also, 300 veterans of the Great Patriotic War will get specialised medical assistance in the first quarter of this year. Some 4,000 children from Chechnya have had rest and medical treatment in Ingushetia, but other groups will be sent mostly to Adygeya, Kabardin-Balkaria and the Krasnodar Territory. Nobody in Chechnya cared for children's rest and treatment in the past few years. In 1998, the Russian government suggested embracing about a thousand children with this programme, and the fund started preparing to do this work. But Chechnya refused to send its children to Russia. 

ITAR-TASS: Can you provide figures about pensions? How large will be the pension upgraded by 20%?

KURTIN: Figures vary because of the individual coefficient. But it will be something like 650 roubles.

PRIME-TASS: Mr. Kalashnikov, you said 300 million roubles are to be allocated for Chechnya's social sphere this year. Where precisely will this money go?

KALASHNIKOV: The 300 million roubles will be spent on ensuring the operation of the social sphere in the liberated regions, namely the restoration of schools and social infrastructure facilities, and the payment of wages.

AKM NEWS AGENCY: How will you spend the 250,000 dollars provided by the Soros Fund? And now about the visit of the PACE delegation to the North Caucasus: Did they suggest measures to stabilise the social sphere? And who controls the disposal of the money?

VYALKOV: The money from the Soros Fund will be provided directly to the provisional government or the office of the Russian Government in Chechnya. About two-thirds of the sum will be used to purchase medicines and vaccines, and the remaining money will be spent on medical equipment for hospitals. The disposal of the money is being controlled by the administration headed by Nikolai Koshman.


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