MOSCOW, December 19 (Itar-Tass) - Russian President Vladimir Putin has begun his customary annual news conference in front of an audience of some 1,300 media workers at the World Trade Centre overlooking the Moskva river.
In his opening remarks Putin touched upon the economic situation in the country.
As presidential press-secretary Dmitry Peskov told ITAR-TASS on the eve of the event, the Russian head of state spent the whole day of Wednesday on preparations for the news conference, reviewing statistics and studying reports and memos from ministries and agencies.
“Putin invariably takes a very responsible attitude to such events,” Peskov said.
The presidential press-secretary believes that the themes of many questions can be well anticipated. For instance, he mentioned such obvious subjects as Ukraine and amnesty.
“Also, it is easy to predict interest in problems of federal importance - socio-economic ones, the housing and utilities sector, health care and education,” Peskov said.
This is Putin’s ninth ‘grand’ news conference. In the eight previous ones he spend a total of 24 hours 59 minutes talking to journalists. In 2008 he set a record of 4 hours and 40 minutes.
The news conference is being telecast live by three Russian television channels and three radio stations.
Russia's President said at 'grand' news conference that not all questions get to the head of state to a larger extent than is actually the case.
US sanctions against Iran are counter-productive; Iran's development of civilian technologies must not be restricted, Putin said.
Putin feels sorry for Pussy Riot participants, but called their behavior disgraceful.
Russian President Vladimir Putin believes that the basic order should be established in private air companies. He hopes that the aviation authorities will draw proper conclusions after the crash of an airliner Boeing 737 in the city of Kazan.
Putin explained why some of those involved in the Bolotnaya Square riot case would not be amnestied, and urged liberals not to see themselves as ‘sole possessors of ultimate truth’. He also said that all people were free to express their opinion but clarified that the state must restore law and order to prevent chaos if law was violated.
Russia can be proud of principal positions on international issues, Putin said, adding that it would be impossible without counterparts. He also spoke on the subject of Russia's G8 presidency, noting that it will be marked by continuity.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday his country’s main task at the Winter Olympic Games in the Black Sea resort of Sochi was to create equal conditions for all athletes irrespective of what country they represent.
Putin said that Russia cannot ignore the reality after the 2008 war, but signals from Georgian leadership are evident. He added that visa-free regime between the countries can be considered sometime in the future.
Regarding the Prirazlomnaya incident and the following detention of Greenpeace activists, Putin said that he appreciates everyone who protects nature, but does not appreciate those who make a publicity stunt out of it or extracts revenue. The president said he has no plans to ease his stance towards violations committed by Greenpeace.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin says it is not necessary to cancel elections of mayors.
Russia's president stated that he has never met Edward Snowden, however admitted, that he's an interesting individual, as he was "capable of turning something in the heads of people". He added that Russian intelligence services do not use Snowden in operative work and never have used. Putin said that American surveillance is motivated by the war on terror, but added that "clear rules" are required.
Putin hopes Russian subtle economic policy to be fruitful; Russia “does not need to cut sharply social expenditure,” as this is happening in the European Union, he said.
Answering question on Putin's likely successor, he said that he has nothing to say.The president also said that the worst thing that can happen is reshuffling of high-ranking governmental officials; the Cabinet's potential is far from being tapped, he said, adding that he's generally satisfied with work of the government. Regarding opposition figurehead Alexey Navalnyy, Putin belies he was no threat to the existing rule during mayoral elections.
Regarding Russia's deployment of Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad, Putin said that those who fear it "need to calm down", as no final decision has been made. European missile shield program still poses threat to Russia's nuclear potential, and the country is ready to respond accordingly, the president said.
Putin stressed that it's important to protect Russian society from aggression against traditional Russian values.
The first question touched upon the latest developments regarding Ukraine.
He said: “Ukraine is a brotherly country and Russia needs to support it in a tough situation – this is the main motivation for our decisions.” Russia is not against Ukraine’s association with the EU, he said, but added that Russia will protect its market.
Russian President Vladimir Putin finds the terms of the gas contract concluded with Ukraine in 2009 just.
Putin explained that currently the desire to help to the fraternal country and the fraternal nation had caused a gas price discount granted to Kiev, adding that he expects that an agreement on long-term gas prices for Ukraine can be reached.
“Under these conditions, we have undertaken, on one hand, the decision related to our special relations with Ukraine, not in the interests of whatever current power, but exactly in the interests of the Ukrainian people,” Putin said. “Secondly, for pragmatic reasons. This is not the first decision of the kind.”
The president said Gazprom had signed twice addendums to the current protocol on postponing Ukraine’s payments: at first rescheduling them for October, and later on - for November. “We realise, there are problems with solvency; so why should we fail the major partner? Thus, it is a pragmatic decision,” Putin concluded.
“GDP growth has reached 1.4 percent, inflation - 6.1 percent, the agricultural production index - 6.8 percent; the growth of real earnings has reached 5.5 percent,” the president cited the main economic indicators of the outgoing year.