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Putin's annual Q&A session

June 15, 12:03 UTC+3

The Russian president is answering questions from the public during his annual Q&A marathon

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© Mikhail Klimentiev/Russian Presidential Press and Information Office/TASS

On Russia's economy 

According to the Russian president, the recession in the country's economy is over, and Russia has now moved into a period of growth.

"You started with the key question, is the economic crisis over? I really want to respond positively, to send out an upbeat message to the public. At the same time, you always think that something will suddenly happen somewhere. We must make decisions based on objective information. And it says that the recession in the Russian economy is over, and we have moved into a period of growth," said Putin.

Putin added that Russia’s GDP has been rising for three quarters in a row. 

"Russia's GDP growth has been rising for three quarters in a row, modestly but still quarter-on-quarter," the president noted.

At the same time, when answering a young teacher's question about low wages, Putin said that the number of people living below poverty line has grown, and that is worrisome. The Russian leader vows to take measures to bolster Russia’s standard of living. 

"Citizens’ real incomes have decreased here over the past years. It is very alarming that the number of people living below the poverty line with salaries below subsistence levels has risen," the president said during the Q&A.

Putin added that today this figure stands at 13.5%. "Over the past years the number of these people has grown to 13.5%. It seems that this is not that much, but this percent refers to tens and hundreds of thousands of people and their fate," the president stressed.

Labor productivity growth is the key to improving living standards. The current structure of the Russian economy is not satisfactory, Putin stressed:

"In this respect, we can say this about the low labor productivity," he said. "If we do not raise it, then we won’t get new jobs, and incomes won’t grow."

"Our real wages have begun to grow gradually from July and August of last year and over the past year went up by 0.7%. That is still difficult to see, although in April of this year the growth was 2.3-2.4% At the beginning of the year there was a onetime payment of 5,000 rubles to retirees, starting on February 1, pensions were inflation-adjusted for unemployed pensioners, as were social pensions, we are working with employers to raise the minimum wage benchmark. We are working on making sure that people can feel change for the better," the president explained.

On anti-Russian sanctions 

Surprisingly, the Russian president pointed to the benefits of anti-Russian sanctions. Putin believes the tightening of anti-Russian sanctions is a side effect of the ongoing political struggle in the United States. 

On anti-Russian sentiment 

The growing US Russophobia was caused by intensified political infighting in the States, Putin explained:

"We do not consider the US our enemy." 

"We see that Russophobia is spreading across the United States and we believe it was caused by the intensified political infighting there," he noted. 

The United States constantly tries to exert influence on the minds of the residents of other countries: 

"Take a globe, spin it and point with a finger to any place - and American interests will lie there," the Russian president said, responding to a question about Russia’s alleged interference in the US presidential elections.

"And there is surely their [US] interference there. I know this from talks actually with all the heads of state. They do not want to quarrel with the Americans and no one directly speaks about this," the Russian president said.

On prospects of Russia-US cooperation 

Russia may cooperate with the United States in the issues of non-proliferation and control over armaments, and also fight against poverty and negative impact on environment:

"You know in what areas we could cooperate with the US. This is first of all control over non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction," the president said.

"We are major nuclear powers, our cooperation in this issue is goes without saying. This is a crucial area. This refers not only to the North Korean issue but also other regions," he said.

"Second, this is struggle against poverty, struggle against negative impact on environment," Putin said. "We know the stance of the current administration [in the US] on the Paris agreements, but President [Donald Trump] is not refusing to discuss this issue. It is senseless to agree on something in this area without the United States."

The Russian leader stressed that it’s the worst way to quarrel and trade bars. "We won’t be able to agree on anything then, and it is senseless to agree on something in this area without the United States - this is one of major issuers."

"We should work together on the fight against poverty in the world. We say that now the percentage of people with minimum wages has risen here but in the world there is a disaster in many regions," he said. "This poverty is one of sources of radicalism and terrorism. We need to decide together what to do with this."

Putin's Q&A sessions over the years 

In the first dialogue with nation, which the Kremlin formally refers to as the Direct Line with Vladimir Putin, 400,000 questions were asked. From that moment on, queries have steadily climbed all the way to a record-high of 3.25 million in 2015.

The very first Q&A marathon of the Russian President was held on December 24, 2001. Since then Direct Lines have been held annually, except for 2004 and 2012.

This year, the Q&A session is being held in the summer for the first time. 

According to Putin's press secretary, international issues are not the topic that worries Russian citizens so much and they are "not even on the tenth place" on the list of the most frequently asked questions. 

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