Medvedev makes unannounced visit to terror-stricken Caucasus

President Dmitry Medvedev (RIA Novosti / Dmitry Astakhov)
President Dmitry Medvedev has arrived in Vladikavkaz in the North Caucasus republic of North Ossetia, making an unscheduled visit. The Russian leader will personally participate in a session of the National Anti-Terrorism Committee.

The unannounced visit took place on Tuesday afternoon. The Vladikavkaz airport was working in regular mode. Immediately upon arrival the president went to the town of Beslan to lay flowers at the monument to the victims of the 2004 terrorist attack.

According to Russian news wires, Medvedev decided to personally attend a session of the National Anti-Terrorism Committee following last week’s massacre in the neighboring republic of Kabardino-Balkaria. On Friday a group of armed attackers stopped a minibus with tourists from Moscow and fired at it with assault rifles, killing three people and wounding two. A short time later unidentified terrorists blew up a cable car to Mount Elbrus – a popular tourist destination. Law-enforcement officials said that the attacks were most probably organized and carried out by local Muslim terrorists.

Speaking at the committee session President Medvedev said that Russian law enforcement officials will continue to hunt down terrorists and eliminate those who refuse to make peace. The president stressed that such strikes will be made not only in retribution, but also as a preventive measure. “They must be brought to justice and if they resist – eliminate them without any mercy,” Medvedev said about terrorists. “This job must be completed and without any pauses,” he said.

The president reiterated that in 2010 the law enforcement agencies eliminated 332 outlaws, including more than 40 warlords and also detained and brought to justice over 600 members of terrorist groups. He noted that in some cases the police and security officers acted like heroes, saving people and neutralizing terrorists at the cost of their own lives.

“I call for additional suggestions to be put forward for supporting the families of those agents killed in action, giving them aid, housing, and compensating the expenses of their children’s education,” the president said.

Speaking at the committee session, President Medvedev said that Russian law enforcers will continue to deliver strikes on terrorists and eliminate those who refuse to make peace. The president stressed that such strikes will be made not only in retribution, but also as a preventative measure. “They must be brought to court and, if they offer resistance, eliminate them without any mercy,” Medvedev said about terrorists. “This job must be completed and a stop is not permissible,” he said.

The president reminded that in 2010 the law enforcement agencies killed 332 bandits, including over 40 warlords and also detained and brought to justice over 600 members of terrorist groups. He noted that in some cases the police and security officers died as heroes, saving people and destroying the terrorists at the cost of their own lives.

“I order to prepare additional suggestions on support to families of the killed agents, giving them aid, housing, compensating the expenses for their children’s education,” the president said.   

The president also said that the ongoing police reform would not result in personnel cuts for law enforcers who work in Russia’s Caucasus republics. He said that in some cases the personnel in these regions will be increased. 

“It is here, in the Caucasus, where our citizens encounter terrorism practically every day. It exists in other parts of our country, but in the Caucasus it is practically omnipresent and terrorist attacks take place quite often,” Medvedev said. He also acknowledged that the nation still had a lot of problems with security. 

At the same time, the president assured the assembly that Russian authorities would continue the tourist projects in the Caucasus republics and no terrorists would obstruct these plans. "Whatever the bandits may try to do, we will continue implementing the projects, including projects to develop the tourism cluster," Medvedev said. He added that such development would create jobs and thus undermine the terrorist movements that recruit new members from the young people, who turned into zombies by the extremists. "The situation in the Caucasus republics must be as advanced in terms of social welfare, as in other regions,” the president said.

Medvedev also said that he had ordered law enforcers, lawyers and officials from his administration to prepare amendments to the law that would allow to hold court trials in other regions than those where the crime was committed (there are restrictions on this in the current Russian law). This must rule out any pressure from the terrorists on those who uphold justice, the president said.