$4.7Bln to Be Invested in Chechnya

APPutin visiting the Moscow State Steel and Alloy Institute on Monday. He backed new funding for young scientists.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Monday backed a $4.7 billion program to rebuild Chechnya over the next four years, signaling a sharp rise in spending on the effort.

The federal government spent roughly half of that amount over the previous six years to create jobs and fund construction projects, the Regional Development Ministry said.

Chechnya, largely destroyed in two separatist wars in the past 15 years, currently earns just 5 percent of its budget, with the rest of its financial needs covered by the federal coffers, Regional Development Minister Dmitry Kozak said Monday.

"In the next four years, we are to create tens of thousands of jobs in this region and double its industrial output," Putin said at a session of the Presidium, his inner Cabinet.

Running from 2008 to 2011, the program aims to finance the construction of roads, colleges and institutes, hospitals and broadcasting facilities, Putin said.

Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov sounded thankful for the additional reconstruction funds, which he has previously called Moscow's obligation to the republic. "We realize that we are not left one on one with our problems," he said, Interfax reported.

Kadyrov recently told a Los Angeles Times reporter that "[Federal troops] should have carried out pinpoint strikes, not what they did. I always tell them. I demand. They are obligated to rebuild and if it doesn't happen, I'll write my resignation paper."

Timur Aliyev, an adviser to Kadyrov, said in e-mailed comments that the new program paid greater attention to the development of roads and other communication networks to support development.

Kozak said the 110 billion ruble program, if implemented, would create 90,000 jobs, up from the 21,000 jobs that emerged in the past six years as a result of the previous federal spending program.

Workers have built 73 schools, 77 hospitals and laid more than 500 kilometers of power lines since 2002, the Regional Development Ministry said in an e-mailed statement.

At the Presidium session, Putin also accepted a report from Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin that the federal government had recently acquired control in diamond miner Alrosa. The federal stake grew to 50 percent plus one share after the government bought more shares in the latest offering, Kudrin said.

The Sakha republic, where Alrosa operates, owns 40 percent, maintaining its previous stake, Kudrin said. The federal government lost control of the company in the early 1990s and has long sought to re-establish its position as the majority owner.

In other news from the Presidium session, Putin endorsed a plan to spend 80 billion rubles ($3.4 billion) on a program to boost research, which will include funding studies by young scientists and the acquisition of state-of-the-art equipment for universities.

The plan also seeks to lure back researchers who left Russia to work abroad, said Education and Science Minister Andrei Fursenko. It offers such researchers grants if they return to work here, he said.

"We expect that, as part of this program, the number of these people will be in the hundreds, not tens," Fursenko said.