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HOSTAGE CRISIS AFTERMATH | EXCERPTS FROM PUTIN'S SPEECH

'A Challenge to the Whole of Russia'

September 05, 2004|From Pravda and Times staff reports

It is difficult to speak. A terrible tragedy has happened in our country. The past few days, every single one of us has suffered pain for people in the Russian town of Beslan. There, we have not encountered mere murderers but those who used guns against innocent children.

First of all, I would like to express my condolences to those who lost ... their children, their relatives and loved ones.

Russia has faced quite a few tragic events and tough ordeals. Today we live in what's been left after the collapse of a great empire....

All of us expected changes. Changes for the best.

However, we appeared to be not ready for a number of things that took place. Why?

We live in times of transitional economy. We live in times of major internal conflicts and cross-ethnic antagonisms that used to be suppressed by the existing ideology. We have stopped paying proper attention to issues of state security, allowed corruption to destroy legal and law-enforcement spheres.

In addition, our nation, which once used to possess the most powerful defense system, has suddenly become completely unprotected from both the east and the west. It will take years and billions of rubles to create up-to-date, safe borders.

But even so, we could have been more effective if we had acted professionally, and at the right moment....

We did not fully understand the complexity and the dangers of the processes at work in our own country and the world. We failed to react properly. We showed ourselves to be weak, and the weak get beaten....

This is not a challenge to the president or the parliament or the government. This is a challenge to the whole of Russia....

I am convinced that we have no choice at all in reality. Because to allow ourselves to be blackmailed and succumb to a panic would be to immediately condemn millions of people to an endless series of bloody conflicts.... We are dealing with a whole intervention of international terror against Russia....

I would like to say the following.

First: A set of measures aimed at strengthening national unity will be prepared soon.

Second: It is necessary to establish a new system of regulating forces and means in the North Caucasus.

Third: It is necessary to create an effective anti-crisis governing system, including absolutely new approaches in the work of the law enforcement....

We will always remain stronger than the enemy in terms of our morals, our courage and our humane solidarity.... We ought to be together. This is the only way to defeat the enemy.

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