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In the TASS special project Top Officials, Vladimir Putin talks about healthy lifestyle, the "fifth column" and oil prices "plot" and argues with Russian philosopher Nikolay Berdyayev
On health, wrong statement and the other side of the coin
- What’s your health status now, Vladimir Vladimirovich?
- All worries are in foes’ dreams!
- The foes are making hints…
- Really? It’s the first time I hear about it. What are they saying? Just fantasying?
- I won’t retell it to you. As a matter of fact, I’ve come to the firsthand source.
- Let them think this way. It’ll make them relaxed and will bring us benefits, too.
- But this isn’t idle curiosity, you know. The country’s health depends on your physical, moral and psychological condition. In a way…
- Do they call into question my bodily or psychic status?
- Their assumptions differ.
- I’m OK, all’s fine… And what sport are you doing?
- No sport for quite some time. Only sports on TV.
- That’s bad. No, TV surfing is no sport… And work requires certain energy, strength and physical activity.
- But why did you ask about it? Just because you…
- I do sports regularly.
- On a daily basis?
- Exactly. Absolutely on a daily basis. Frankly, though, I stopped doing it during trips. When the flight is long and the time difference is big you don’t sleep yourself out...
- By the way, do you adapt easily to local time zones or do you live by the Moscow time?
- I don’t adapt well. And when you’ve gotten adapted, it’s time to return home… Therefore, I try to live mainly by the Moscow time but long
trips make it impossible, of course.
- Let’s go back to the issue I started with. Vyacheslav Volodin (first deputy chief of the presidential staff) said at the Valdai Forum, “No Putin, no Russia.” But you later said that the statement was absolutely wrong.
If a person thinks of essence and results of his work, as well as interests of people, then even a mistake does not look so terrible
- But this was a formula having a particular connotation, nowadays at least. Many people inside and outside of the country associate Russia with you personally.
- I think that’s natural. The head of state, person number one in a nation is always associated with his country in one way or another. And
not only in Russia. The individual is elected by direct secret balloting, people have delegated him certain powers, he is charged with
conducting policy on people’s behalf. And, of course, the nation expects a definite conduct from its leader. The voters proceed from the
assumption that they elected the head of state and trusted him and he will meet their expectations, defend their interests and struggle to
improve their living in the economy, in the social sphere, in the international arena, and in the matters of security. There are many tasks. There is nothing unusual or anything specifically Russian in the fact associations of the kind spring up.
- Still very few leaders can boast the popularity ratings you have.
- That’s true but the problem is you’ll be unable to work if you think about ratings all the time. The worst thing of all is to get enslaved by contemplation of one’s ratings. As soon as someone starts doing it, he immediately turns into a loser. Instead of engaging in real business and moving forward with no fear of stumbling along the way, one who thinks about ratings abandons all activity. Then the rating begins a downhill slide. Vice versa, if a person thinks of the essence and results of his work, as well as the interests of the people, then even a mistake does not look so terrible. And he can speak of it straightforwardly and confess his blunder. And you know, this won’t affect the rating much, people will understand perfectly well the true intensions, sincerity and honesty, and especially, a direct dialogue. It is really valuable and people will always appreciate it.
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Level of Russian citizens' approval of President Vladimir Putin. Infographics by TASS
- But still, when the level of support exceeds 80 percent after 15 years in power… This is both obvious and incredible.
- I’ve already said that I feel myself a part of Russia. It’s more than just love. Each of us can speak of loving his Motherland. We all love it but I really feel being part of our people and I can’t imagine for a second living outside Russia. Getting the support of compatriots for a long time, one cannot but make every effort to justify their trust. Quite possibly, that’s the key principle and groundwork for relations between the people and the
leaders whom they elect.
- But every coin has two sides. At a certain period, all achievements are linked to the leader but as time change, all the misfortunes may also be ascribed to him.
- Sure thing.
- And what’s next?
- As the saying goes, once you pledge, don’t hedge. One has to work.
- We see that Uralvagonzavod (Russia’s main manufacturer of tanks) is with you.
- It’s not one or another enterprise that matters.
The worst thing of all is to get enslaved by contemplation of one’s ratings
- It’s a collective image.
- People who declared their position openly and put forward certain initiative appeared at Uralvagonzavod at some point. But were the enterprises few in number that got the assistance of the government that I headed during the crisis in 2008? The problem was actually bigger
than our help or the system of effective measures, which we had devised and implemented. The Russian government and your most obedient servant never shunned responsibility. In late 2008, at one of the United Russia party’s public events I recalled the crisis of 1998 and said baldly, “We won’t admit it ever again, take my word!” This was a very risky statement. Putting responsibility of this kind on oneself without
knowing all the components of the new crisis and controlling all the instruments that had sparked it and were developing it… But it was
extremely important at that time to give members of the cabinet, administrative crews in the regions and, most importantly, the man in
the street the feeling that the Russian leadership understood the situation and assessed it appropriately and had the clues to what was to
be done. In such cases this is even more important than concrete actions. But our actions, too, were quite adequate to the state of things at the moment.
On Uralvagonzavod, the “fifth column,” “death-active” movies and monarchy
- But I mentioned Uralvagonzavod as an example, meaning that you have a big group of supporters. But there are people that don’t
accept your politics or vocabulary. How do you treat them?
- Very well.
- The hell with them, yeah?
- You see, we can call one another hurtful names endlessly. I’ve faced the situation for quite a few years and I think that all depends on overall culture and on political culture. We can struggle with opponents but refrain from insults and scuffles, etc. Yet this doesn’t mean we cannot defend our viewpoints. We can and must do it but within the confines of law, as I’ve always said. If we break out of these brackets we’ll dash into destruction. And then it’ll be too difficult for us to reassemble the things we hold dear.
No foreign country with a sense of self-respect will ever let the use of outside finances in internal political struggle
- But do you want to turn your opponents into allies or let them alone?
- You can’t turn everyone into your allies and you shouldn’t even dream of it. On the contrary, it’s good to have around some people who
have doubts. But they should propose constructive solutions. If we face opponents of this type, they are very useful. But others who act along
the “Worse is Better” formula exist, too. And this is also inescapable, unfortunately.
The problem is centrifugal forces seeking to pull the state down get into play every time when its basic parameters become feeble. Just like
in the human body – if your immune resistance is down, you immediately catch the flu. These bacilli and bacteria are seeded in the organism and
reside there all the time but if the organism is strong, you suppress the flu with your immunodefense. Doing sports is a must!
- This is indisputable but there are people who don’t agree with you on some other points. Doesn’t this necessarily mean they are
“the fifth column” and enemies?
- No, of course not. And still this doesn’t mean there are no people who are serving foreign interests in Russia. They exist, too. Who are
they? They use money from foreign countries in domestic political struggle and don’t have scruples when they take the money.
- But our Motherland is making such borrowings increasingly more difficult. Let me name the laws making NGOs equal with foreign
agents, restricting foreign ownership in Russia mass media…
- No. It may look more difficult but it is still possible. One will always find channels to get the money and use it for intended purposes.
Of course, the recent decisions restrict the use of foreign funds in domestic political struggle in Russia. They kind of put up certain barriers but these barriers are bypassed and we should watch closely to prevent this. None of the foreign countries with a sense of self-respect
will ever let the use of outside finances in internal political struggle. Try and do something like this in the US and you’ll land in jail at once. They have far more rigid state agencies there than we do here. On the surface, everything looks dignified and democratic but all chances vanish as soon as you get down to such things.
You can’t turn everyone into your allies and you shouldn’t even dream of it
Here in Russia everything is far more liberal. Everything is possible. And the issues of the progress of democracy are as crucial for Russia as
for any other state. But we must understand that this isn’t democracy for the sake of democracy. This is for the people, for their better life and real access to the levers of practical control over the country. We should not create conditions letting foreign countries make us weaker, subdue us to their will and put pressure on us from the inside, impacting our policy in their own petty interests. It’s like they push us and we agree on Syria, the Iranian nuclear program, the Middle East settlement, and wind up some or other defense policy programs. And hat’s what these instruments and this money are used for…
- Throwing stones into whose kitchen garden?
- No stones, no one’s kitchen garden. I just explain my position. You asked me and I am simply telling what I think. If people have genuine interest in improving the structure of governance, public control over their work, citizens’ access to power agencies, law enforcing, administrative and all sorts of other things, this is absolutely right and should be supported. And I will always support it. But if I see something is done exclusively to satisfy someone “over there,” to dance to the alien tunes and to force us to do the same, I will definitely fight back.
- And doesn’t this fuel hatred in our society?
- But I don’t see it today. It usually occurs everywhere during election campaigns but as far as I can see we don’t have it today.
- But take a look at social networks’ stormy reaction to any landmark event, for example, events in Ukraine or the premiere of Nikita
Mikhalkov’s new movies. Sometimes people are not ready to respect or even listen to some other viewpoint that comments have to be shut off on the Internet pages and websites.
- This has no link to our actions to ensure internal security or to the cleansing of our domestic policies from foreign influence.
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Putin signs law setting restriction on share of http://en.itar-tass.com/russia/754483" target="_blank">foreign stakeholders in Russian mass media
- I mean the condition of our civil society.
- That’s what I am talking about. Our common culture. People still lack something. And would you say everything’s OK in other countries? If it were, there wouldn’t be any events like football fan brawls. There wouldn’t have been the recent attack on the immigrants’ camps in Italy where people were killed. We wouldn’t see a multitude of other events taking place all around the world and, unfortunately, here in Russia as well. We have to work towards making people with totally different outlooks sort out their relations and contest their opinions in a civilized way.
- But still, as I said in the beginning of our conversation, much depends on you in the moral climate.
- No, that’s not true.
- Yes, that’s true, Vladimir Vladimirovich.
- No, the situation just seems to be that way. People like you and your fellow-journalists find it easier to lay blame on someone for it. Just look at yourselves! Look at how the media dish out information, how you influence the mindset of millions of people, and what kind of programs our central TV channels put on air. Are we the country where federal channels only have to earn money and to think about the price of a minute of advertising time and hence to fill the schedules with the so-called “death-active” movies from the early morning hours through to late night?
And do we have to confine all the positive, encouraging things, the ones that set the standards of worldview, the fundamental philosophical and aesthetical things to Kultura (Culture) channel? I don’t think so. And note one thing: state agencies are watching this situation as outside observers would do. We do not interfere with the editorial policy of even the state-run TV channels. From the point of view of liberal values, it’s most likely good. And unfortunately we see the results.
Centrifugal forces get into play every time basic parameters of the state become feeble
- Judging by the news reports and political talk shows of federal TV channels, we’ve been living in Ukraine. This is the main topic of the
- But this doesn’t mean that all is related to me. This is a false notion, a delusion. This is wrong. Even absolutely wrong! It only seems
that everything is hinged on the country’s man number one. It’s true there are things of a fundamental nature. But clashes of different
opinions occur all the time. Very frequently my colleagues come to me and say, we need your final opinion on this or that problem. Dmitry
Anatolyevich (Medvedev) and I meet to draft a unified position. Such things are really difficult to do without the president’s participation
in them. In addition to the government, we have the Central Bank, the presidential staff, the parliament… The work has to be coordinated. And I
have to interfere. But it’s definitely wrong to claim that the president always decides on everything and that everything always depends on him.
- I think bewilderment will be short-lived if you declare imposition of a monarchy tomorrow.
- In the first place, I’m not sure if bewilderment will be short-lived and if people will approve of it.
- I am not calling for it, I say if it’s experimental.
- I see what you mean. That’s in the first place. In the second, you asked about rating. I don’t know if I managed to answer your questions and remarks in full but it seems to me another explanation is people put trust in the personalities they elect, including your obedient servant. People obviously proceed from the assumption no reckless steps will be made. Fortunately or unfortunately –and let’s stay away from assessments now – we’re past that stage. We’veclosed the monarchic chapter of our history.
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Putin Prospect in the city of Grozny, Chechnya
On renaming streets, the Ukrainian passport and oil prices plot
- It’s not necessary to proclaim monarchic rule. It’s enough for you to move a finger and tomorrow they’ll revive the GULAG or, for
example, the cult of personality so that a street named after Vladimir Putin appeared in every town. A steering committee that demands renaming of Sacco and Vanzetti Street named after the Italian anarchists who were electrocuted in America surfaced in Yekaterinburg recently. They said Sacco and Vanzetti had nothing to do with Yekaterinburg, while Vladimir Vladimirovich (Putin) prevented destruction of the country in 1990s and stopped the rampage of gangsters and oligarchs, and so on… And what do you think about it?
- I think people are doing it out of good and fair intentions.
- And such intentions will be displayed in any city if you give them a signal with your eyebrows.
- I see but it’s too early to put up monuments to each other yet. I mean myself. There is still some work ahead and the future generations will assess the contribution to Russia’s development each of us will have made.
- But what’s your attitude to such initiatives in general?
- As I’ve said, it’s too early to erect monuments...
- Yes, but streets?
- The same applies to streets and squares.
- But one street exists already.
- You mean Grozny?
- Yeah, Grozny (the capital of Chechnya)…
- Yes, and I won’t conceal it they didn’t ask me. But still Chechnya occupies a special place in our most recent history. There are many
links to the activity of the first President of the Chechen Republic, Akhmat-Hajji Kadyrov. Everything was tangled so tightly there… But
what’s done is done now.
- No one in the West has proposed monuments to you either?
- You recalled the early 2000s here, didn’t you? I haven’t forgotten how all of that was unfolding. The West would give even tougher
assessments of my activity then. I lived through it all and I remember it.
It's too early to put up monuments to each other, and I mean myself
What do we see? As soon as Russia rises to its feet, gets stronger and claims its right to defend its interests outside its territory, the
attitude to the state and its leaders changes in the twinkle of an eye.
Recall how it was with Boris Nikolayevich (Yeltsin). In the first stages, the world approved everything. The West received everything he
did with unequivocal cheers. But as soon as he spoke up in defense of Yugoslavia, he immediately turned into a drinker and a carrier of all
vices in the mind of the Westerners. It’s an open secret, of course, that Yeltsin loved to give himself a damp. And was there anyone who did
not know about it before? Everyone knew it, but it did not hinder his contacts with the world. And as soon as the moment came to defend
Russia’s interests in the Balkans and he stated it openly, he turned almost into an enemy of the West. Such was the reality in not so distant
past. And I have fresh memories of it.
We’re speaking about developments in Ukraine today and our partners tell us all the time about the importance of observing the territorial
integrity of that country. They say that all those fighting for their rights and interests in the east of Ukraine are pro-Russian separatists.
While those who fought against us in the Caucasus, including those who did it under al-Qaeda guidance, for its money and with its weapons in
the hands and even the al-Qaeda militants involved in combat actions were fighters for democracy. It’s incredible, but it’s a proven fact. We
were rebuked for a disproportionate use of force then. We were told then, “You’re firing from tanks and using artillery. It’s no way!” And
in Ukraine? Aviation, tanks, heavy artillery, and salvo systems. They’ve even used cluster bombs and ballistic missiles and the latter fact
simply defies belief! And no one has said a word about the disproportionate use of force.
- Because it is assumed the Ukrainian troops are counteracting Russia.
- Because it is assumed that Russia has interests there but our right to defend them and the people living in those territories is denied.
You personally come from Kharkiv, don’t you?
http://en.itar-tass.com/russia/756390" target="_blank"> Attempts to use force in Ukraine’s south-east to drive situation into deadlock — Putin
- From Luhansk.
- OK, from Luhansk. You definitely know that if you ask a person, whose ethnicity is identified in his passport as Ukrainian, you’ll see he doesn’t give much thought to it. People there perceive themselves as parts of the greater Russian world. No doubt, the Ukrainian nation has its original culture, language, and self-identity – unique, with marvelous sounding, and very beautiful. But fairly recently a colleague of mine showed me documents dating back to 1924. The word ‘Velikoross’ (‘Great Russian’) was entered in a passport. And today Ukrainians would have written ‘Maloross’ (’Little Russian’). There was no difference in practical terms. We are told, why are you pressing forward with the idea of the Russian world all the time, what if people don’t want to live in it? No one is pressing forward with it, which doesn’t mean however that it does not exist.
When I speak to people from Crimea, for example, or from the east of Ukraine, I ask them “What is your nationality?” Some of them tell me, “We don’t draw any difference.” But when Russia begins to speak about it and to defend people and its own interests, it turns into a bad guy at once. And do you think it’s the east of Ukraine that really matters? Does the problem lurk in our position on eastern Ukraine or Crimea? Not at all. Were it not this particular pretext, any other would be found. And this has always been so.
Take a look at our millennium-long history. As soon as we rise, some other nations immediately feel the urge to push Russia aside, to put it “where it belongs,” to slow it down. How old is the theory of containment? We tend to think it dates back to the Soviet era but, however, it is centuries-old. But we shouldn’t fan any passions over it on our side because that’s how the world is functioning. It implies the struggle for geopolitical interests and, consequently, the nation’s significance, as well as the ability to generate a new economy, to resolve social problems, and to improve living standards. This position is not aggressive a bit. But if you take the United States, our American friends…
- Surely, they’re all our friends. Americans are printing dollars and have turned their national currency into a global currency, although they gave up the gold equivalent several decades ago. But all the same, the printing machine is held by them and they’re obviously capitalizing on this.
- Good guys!
- Good guys. But why did this happen? The US achieved a certain position after World War Two. Why do I say this? The struggle for geopolitical interests leads to the situation when a country either becomes stronger, resolving its financial, defense, economic and subsequently social issues more effectively, or slides into the category of third-, fifth-rate countries, losing a possibility to safeguard the interests of its people.
The struggle for geopolitical interests leads to the country sliding into the category of third-, fifth-rate countries
- And what about our attempt to contest with the West?
- We don’t need to contest.
- Will we have enough strength?
- We don’t need to contest. We simply don’t need to contest.
- What are we doing now?
- We simply need to calmly implement our agenda. Many say that oil prices are falling, including because a tie-up is possible between
traditional producers, in particular, between Saudi Arabia and the United States. They say this is being done specially to sink the Russian
If you talk to specialists now, I mean true specialists and not specialists like me…
- Who are true specialists, if not you?
- We have such specialists as the Economic Development Ministry, the Finance Ministry and the Central Bank. What will they tell you? Some
things lie on the surface. Look, oil prices have fallen. Why did they fall, by the way? Supply has increased. Libya is producing more, as well
as Iraq, no matter how strange it may seem, despite all its problems. Illegal oil has appeared at $30 per barrel, which the Islamic State is
selling on the black market. Saudi Arabia has increased extraction. Meanwhile, consumption has contracted due to the period of certain
stagnation or, say, slower-than-projected global economic growth. There are fundamental factors. Let’s assume that there are also partners’
purposeful steps on the world energy market. Can we presume this? Yes, we can. What is the result? This leads to the depreciation of the ruble,
our national currency. This is one of the factors, not the sole one, but one of them. And what does this mean for the Russian budget? We
don’t calculate the budget in dollars. The ruble’s value has fallen and it has depreciated a little.
http://en.itar-tass.com/russia/759966" target="_blank"> Putin points out three reasons for oil prices to fall
- By a third.
- By 30 percent... But look: we earlier sold a product that was worth one dollar and got 32 rubles for it. And now we’ll get 45 rubles for the same product costing one dollar. Budget revenues have increased and not decreased. Yes, certain corridors and curbs exist related to the fact that the situation is deteriorating for production sectors and enterprises oriented to purchases abroad with foreign currency. But this is not so for the budget and we’re confidently resolving social problems. This also relates to the tasks of the defense industry. Russia has its own base for import substitution. Thank God, we have inherited a lot from the previous generations and we have also done much in the past 15 years for the industry’s modernization. Does this do us damage? Partial but not fatal. If deliberate efforts are being taken to lower energy prices, they also affect those who introduce these constraints.
Contemporary world is interdependent. This does not at all mean that the sanctions, a sharp fall in oil prices and the depreciation of the national currency will bring about negative results or disastrous consequences solely for us. Nothing of this kind will happen! Problems arise, they are present and they will increase, deteriorating the situation but not only in Russia but also in our partners’ countries, including in oil and gas producing countries. We talk about falling oil prices. This occurs, among other things, because the United States has started to extract shale oil and shale gas. The US now provides itself with its own raw materials to a considerable extent. Not fully so far, but to a considerable extent. But what is the breakeven point of this production? It differs in various regions of the United States. Estimates range from $65 per barrel to $83. Now the oil price has fallen below $80 per barrel. Shale gas production is becoming unprofitable. Perhaps, the Saudis specially want to “kill” their rivals…
- But would it be better for us, if a neighbor’s horse died?
- It depends on the neighbor, his horse and how he used it
On Forbes list, corruption level and about who steals from whom - Forbes has put you at the top of the list of the world’s most influential people for the second consecutive year…
- You know, this is still less significant that internal ratings.
- But it’s a pleasant thing, don’t you agree?
- No, I can’t say, pleasant or unpleasant. The point is that world leadership is determined by a state’s economic and defense capabilities.
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http://en.itar-tass.com/world/758269" target="_blank"> Forbes' list of world's most powerful people
- We are obviously not No. 1 by these indicators.
- This is what I’m talking about. If we turn to interpersonal evaluations, I don’t know how Forbes made these assessments, it is their business. Perhaps, they do this on purpose to exacerbate my relations with Barack Obama, placing him second. The President of the United States and I know each other. I can’t say that we have quite close relationships but he is a clever person and can evaluate all this. This could be a method of internal political struggle in the United States, especially on the eve of the elections to the Senate. Let them sort out these things themselves…
Everything that is done in the course of electoral campaigns has sense and significance. I don’t want now to give an assessment of the US President’s steps on the international scene, and we have a lot of contradictions and our views frequently diverge and, all the more so, I don’t want to assess his internal political initiatives as this is a separate theme but I know that Obama realistically assesses what is going on in his country. I’m confident that he considers these ratings as an element of struggle aimed at causing him damage.
- This is what the US independent press means: it writes to spite the president.
- How can it be independent, if it works in pair with the political opponents of the head of the White House? There is no independence in this regard. This is full dependence and the servicing of certain forces. But these are my assumptions.
- We don’t have even this pair.
- We have everything. If you read our certain publications, and you surely do this, then you’ll see what expressions they use to characterize my activity or the work of the Russian government. Frequently, they descend to personalities…
- Do you read this?
- Sometimes my spokesman Dmitry Peskov brings all sorts of dirtiness.
- What do you do in response?
- Listen, those who do this want me to respond.
http://photocdn3.itar-tass.com/fit/333x ... 070986.jpg" alt="Federation Council, the upper house of Russia’s parliament">
http://en.itar-tass.com/economy/760557" target="_blank"> Russia’s parliament approves anti-offshore legislation
- They’ll never get this as you have said?
- This is also a method of self-promotion. If you assail a higher-ranking person and he responds, this means that the assailant is a tough guy. All these techniques are well known. But I have no time for such things because I try to do real work rather than to confront someone. If I see something really reasonable in criticism, I take note of this so that I can use it.
- For example?
- It is difficult to give an example right now. These are things related to the organization of power, the activity of political parties and society’s control of the presidential administration’s work. Or this concerns work for creating a more favorable business environment, the registration of enterprises. Please note that we have done much in this regard in recent years. Perhaps, not everything and we need to intensify work but much has been implemented.
- Another question about the rating. According to the latest data, Russia was given some 130th place in the ranking of 170 countries
by the level of corruption. It stands close to Benin in the rating.
- You know, you need first to see who draws these ratings.
- These ratings are largely drawn abroad, not in our country. This rating was compiled by the TRACE International association.
- Well, that’s clear. Take the ratings of higher educational institutions. Who draws them and which criteria are used? We struggle
ourselves to raise the quality of our education but the ratings of higher educational institutions are drawn by the corresponding agencies,
proceeding from the volume of endowment and the accumulated purposeful capital, which a higher school can use. But we have a completely different pre-history of the development of higher education! It is therefore possible to assign zero ratings to our higher educational
institutions. And this rating is effectively used in the struggle for the market of educational services! - Please, don’t get away from the question.
- I’m just approaching it... The same can be seen in geopolitics. Various instruments are used: accusations of the undemocratic nature of the state, the suppression of press freedom and weak struggle with the manifestations of terrorism and separatism. All methods are used, including ratings…
World leadership is determined by the state’s economic and defense capabilities
But this does not mean we don’t have corruption. We constantly speak about it ourselves. I believe this is one of very serious problems,
which we have inherited from the past when the administration at any level thought it had the right to do everything and no one could have
the right to encroach on its powers and control it somehow. But then something else was added to this, which only aggravated the situation. I
mean non-transparent privatization. This was awful and this was a big mistake. We’re all clever persons with hindsight. Perhaps those who made
decisions then would have now done many things differently.
Incidentally, this was also in the 1990s when the Europeans told us that we needn’t listen to American experts. But we went along this road… The
non-transparent privatization made people think: well, if some are allowed to steal billions from the state, then why can’t we take away
something cheaper? Why some are allowed and others are not?
- You are talking about the 1990s but we are living in late 2014.
- But mentally all this has remained and has never got out of people’s minds...
There is also another aspect. When decisions were taken on the creation of market mechanisms and the functioning of society’s democraticinstitutions, we somehow forgot that democracy and a carelessattitude to law were different stories. Law has to be observed by
everyone. There is no unbridgeable abyss between a market economy and state regulation. Incidentally, as soon as crisis manifestations emerge,
everyone recalls the state. But it is not even a matter of the principles of building economic life. The point is that we failed to create control instruments during the transition to a market economy.
Sometimes, we have to observe strange situations even at large joint stock companies. It is believed that owners won’t steal from themselves.
This is hardly so! They steal in large amounts. Why? Those who hold a controlling stake don’t very much want to share with minority
shareholders. That is why, they create hundreds of schemes for the withdrawal of resources from companies. And this can be observed in many
I can’t say that we have close relationship with the US president but he is a clever person and can evaluate all this
We’ll have not only to tighten fiscal policy or law-enforcement sanctions. We need educative work and work for creating an effective,
modern and certainly market system of relations in the economy, which should actually limit a possibility of the emergence of corruption. We
need to work on this, look at world best practices and introduce them. Of course, this requires time, efforts, persistence and the will but we
have no other way.
- And there should be no untouchable persons.
- I absolutely agree with you, this is one of the components.
- There are no such persons?
- I don’t know. It seemed to me there were none. We need to seek to achieve this. If I see that such persons and situations appear, we’ll
certainly struggle with this. By the way, we have created public control on the platform of the all-Russian People’s Front for this purpose. It
works quite effectively.
On friends, offences, attempts to sow discord and discomfort
- I’ve mentioned Uralvagonzavod as a collective image. And there is also an idiomatic expression - “the friends of Putin.”
- Yes, please.
- This expression is used not only by our internal opposition but also by the State Department.
- In what connection?
- The US intention was that the first package of sanctions hit exactly President Putin.
- I understand. The Americans have made one very pleasant for me and systematic error.
- “Pleasant” in quotes?
- No, literally. What does this error mean? They proceeded from a false assumption that I have some personal business interests due to
ties with the people on the list. And by pinching them, they were kind of hitting me. This does not absolutely correspond to reality. I
believe, we have to a great degree put an end to the so-called oligarchy. What is this? This is money influencing upon power. Today I
can definitely say that we have no such situation in Russia. No oligarchic structures substitute state power or influence upon state decisions in their interests. This fully refers to those people whom you have mentioned. All of them are rich and they made their fortunes a long time ago…
http://en.itar-tass.com/world/758181" target="_blank"> http://photocdn1.itar-tass.com/fit/333x ... 068608.jpg" alt="">
http://en.itar-tass.com/world/758181" target="_blank">Putin and Obama meetings: how the dialogue evolved
- In different ways.
- I agree but mainly a long time ago, and absolutely within the legal framework. They took nothing, they privatized nothing like what had been done in the 1990s.
- Are we talking about the Rotenbergs, Kovalchuks, Timchenko?
- Yes. What state property did Timchenko get? Please name at least one asset. Nothing.
- I will say another thing.
- Yes, please.- I quote the newswire. Gennady Timchenko believes the
US investigation against oil trader Gunvor and money-laundering allegations seek to target the president of Russia. Then word-for-word,
“I am 100 percent sure that this is the case.”
- This is good that you quote Gennady Nikolayevich. Probably, this is so. But I told you what the systematic error is. The US believes some of my financial interests are seated there and they are rootling.
- But did they aim at you?
- Probably, yes.
- Do you feel bitter for your friends?
- They are Russian nationals, they consider themselves patriots of this country and this is true. Someone has decided they should be punished for this. And it just strengthens the acknowledgement of such their quality. There is nothing offensive in this. I believe this is a
gross violation of human rights. Some of those blacklisted, as far as I know, have filed lawsuits but not in order to protect themselves but to
show the unlawfulness of the taken decisions. What relation does anyone of them have towards the relative decisions which I took on Crimea,
sorry for tautology? Nothing of the kind. They did not know anything in the very least. They read about it in a TASS story or heard it in a TV
news report. They were being chased for nothing… This is a direct violation of human rights. That’s why they have turned to court. If
courts in the United States and Europe are indeed independent and unbiased, the decisions will be taken in their favor, and if not… This is a very good litmus paper. http://en.itar-tass.com/russia/758383" target="_blank"> http://photocdn1.itar-tass.com/fit/333x ... 068840.jpg" alt="Presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov ">
http://en.itar-tass.com/russia/758383" target="_blank">Issues related to sanctions often turn into assaults on Putin — Peskov
- Vladimir Vladimirovich, you have a reputation of a person who does not denounce “your” men.
- Yes, I try, if they behave decently and do not violate anything. And if they act to evade law, then they are no more “my” people.
- But if the friends are offended…I meant this when I asked whether you felt bitter for them?
- On the contrary, I am a kind of glad about this. I am glad that I do have such friends, whom our opponents, let’s call them so, blame for the fact that Crimea has become part of the Russian territory. This does credit to my friends. They have no relation to this, but this does credit to them.
- Isn’t this the reason to take a different attitude to those who offended close friends?
- I believe this is a result of wrongful decisions based on false information, including inside Russia itself. They throw something and say, “These are the friends of Putin and they should be punished, they will revolt and there will be a mutiny aboard.” There will be nothing like that.
I became president of Russia not to satisfy personal ambitions
- Does it reflect on your contacts with the G7 leaders?
- No, this is not so. Listen, during the grave events in the Caucasus I saw and heard beyond these things. I gave you the example: when we
were struggling against international terrorism for our territorial integrity, we were refused this right. I heard many things at that time.
Those who did so believed that Russia will always be in a vulnerable state. And they went on to always press on the tender spot.
Now the situation is different. We have a consolidated country.
Despite the natural presence of the opposition and people who do not accept what we are doing, the society is still consolidated. I assure
you that the West doesn’t like it much. And the attempt to punish my friends, whom I am not going to abandon, is a desire to sow discord
within the elites, and then maybe into the society.
- Now I am talking not about friends, but about you. When you were spending a night at Bush’s ranch, who looked into your eyes and
then saw something …
- The soul.
- Exactly! He saw the soul. And you and Obama now talk “on feet.”
- So what? You know, if we want just to clap each other on the shoulder, call each other friends, pay visits and go to G8 summits but
the only value of informal communication is the permission to sit near, with no account for our interests and no attention to Russia’s position
in solving these or those key issues, then what is this for? I became the president of Russia not to satisfy personal ambitions. I do not need
this if Russia’s interests are neglected. Therefore, we will not pay visits to each other and will meet at these or other venues and in a
business-like atmosphere. But we need to principally but openly and even we can say like partners, if not friends, discuss all problems and
search for solutions. I hope this will be like this in the practical work.
- So you feel no discomfort about the fact that there has been a cooldown?
- No, I do not feel anything. What discomfort should I have? I need the result.
- It turns out that you were right when you said that after Gandhi’s death, there had been no one to talk to.
- You understand, I said this with a certain irony.
If people act to evade law then they are no more “my” people
- You say many things with irony.
- Yes, but your colleagues preferred to ignore it. By the way, then they also cited ratings (I do not remember what year this was) and
asked, "Don’t you feel that you have no one to talk to?" That’s utter nonsense! I am well aware that the leaders of both Western and
developing countries are people who have gone through an ordeal of inter-political fight and through a process of making up of a
personality. All of them are distinguished figures in international politics. They defend the national interests like I am trying to do the
same for the sake of this country.
On loneliness, daughters, personal environment and ability to say “No”
- If I am wrong, please correct me, but it seems to me that when a person holds the post like yours, he is lonely. That’s his
- They always say like this.
- And in fact?
- In fact, to some part, this is so. You have mentioned my friends. I do not blatantly reject them but this is also approximate. This does
not mean that we meet every day, drink champagne or vodka and “chatter.”
- What do you prefer?
- I prefer tea.
- And what drink are you served while we are talking?
- Ordinary tea. Would you like some? They serve it covered in a special teaware so that it does not get cold.
Moreover, I have a rather tight schedule. I even see my daughters once or twice a month, but I still need to choose time.
- In what country do they live?
- In Russia, where else?
- Of course, they live in Moscow. We meet at home…
Yes, I have good relations with those people whom you have mentioned.I also try to keep in touch with my fellow students from the university.
I appreciate people who can say, “I believe that you are wrong”
- Are they not necessarily billionaires?
- Not at all! Ordinary people. They mainly work in the law
enforcement sphere, in the Interior Ministry, Prosecutor General’s Office, attorney offices and administrative authorities.
- Let’s name them all. They will be pleased.
- Well, there are plenty of them, 80 people! Someone will be pleased, others, on the contrary, will be not, as some of them live in the republics of the former Soviet Union, and the mere fact of the contact with me also poses a certain threat for them.
- And in Ukraine?
- Yes, and in Georgia and other countries.
- The agents of influence?
- No, they are not agents, they influence nothing. They live their own lives. They are ordinary citizens in their countries, very loyal and loving. But given the events in their countries, our acquaintance is a certain burden… If the businessmen, whom you have mentioned, were
clamped down immediately just due to contacts with me and sanctioned, then those whom I have just spoke about are absolutely ordinary people.
They have no capitals and they cannot be subjected to sanctions. But there are other measures of influence, which are very hard-hitting and
maybe even dangerous. That’s why we should better not talk much about these people.
- Still if we speak about solitude.
- I have told you, I have such a workload that does not allow having a wide circle of friends.
- Just taking into account that you can learn everything about everyone…
- …and one can learn all sorts of things about anyone…
- …maybe this also affects?
- No, I try not to use my possibilities in this regard.
- In order not to be disappointed in humanity once and for all?
- No, simply… I worked for the KGB for almost 20 years and I know how
the fact sheets are writt