MOSCOW, November 12 (RIA Novosti) - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday described the level of corruption in the country's North Caucasus as "unprecedented" and promised to takes steps to tackle the problem.
"Let's say it openly, the level of corruption and violence...in the North Caucasus republics is unprecedented," Medvedev said in his state-of-the-nation address.
The Russian president instructed the government to assess the efficiency of federal structures in the region and compile a list of investment projects for the area.
"It is evident that the source of many problems lies primarily in the region's economic backwardness and the absence of the promise of a normal life for most people...We will pay attention to the resolution of social and economic problems," Medvedev said.
According to Medvedev, as part of two federal target programs, over 26 billion rubles ($900 mln) has been allocated to develop the region, and the government is to approve another $1.1 bln federal program by the yearend to support the development of the republic of Ingushetia from 2010 to 2016.
"As we see, the volume of funds allocated to the entire North Caucasus is considerable, but the efficiency of spending leaves much to be desired. Moreover, part of the funds is almost openly stolen by officials, at a time when unemployment and mass poverty in the Caucasus have reached extreme scales," he said.
Medvedev said a Cabinet post dedicated to tackling problems in the North Caucasus would soon be created.
The president said the list of investment projects to be formed should include energy, construction, tourism and agriculture-related ones. He also called for entrepreneurship and investment activity to be stepped up in the region to get rid of unemployment and enhance living standards.
Militant attacks and clashes remain common in Russia's North Caucasus, even though the Kremlin campaign to fight separatists and terrorists in Chechnya has officially ended. Violence often spills over into nearby republics, in particular Ingushetia, Dagestan and Kabardino-Balkaria.