MOSCOW, November 23. /TASS/. President Vladimir Putin does not feel lonely although even meetings with his daughters take place a couple of times a month at the very best. He made this confession in an exclusive interview with TASS as part of the ‘Top Officials’ special project.
Besides, he tries to keep up contacts with old friends whom he will not give up under any circumstances.
“You know, I don’t feel lonely at all,” he said. “Odd as it may seem, the opportunities to socialize and the contacts I have are possibly few, and the time to see even those people who are regarded as my friends, the ones under sanctions is scarce. That’s true.”
“But loneliness, I believe, is something very different,” Putin said. “It is not an opportunity or lack of an opportunity to see people. It’s a state of one’s soul. I feel no such loneliness of the soul at all.”
He said the opportunity to meet with his friends was often hindered by his tight schedule. “I even see my daughters once or twice a month, but I still need to choose time,” he said.
When asked whether Maria and Katerina were living in Russia, he answered in the positive, saying: “Of course, they live in Moscow. We meet at home…”
Putin said he tries to keep up contacts with his fellow-students from Leningrad State University. He described them as ‘ordinary people’. “They mainly work in the law enforcement sphere, in the Interior Ministry, Prosecutor General’s Office, attorney offices and administrative authorities.”
Some of them live in other former republics of the Soviet Union, including Ukraine and Georgia.
“There are plenty of them, 80 people! […] 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,” Putin said.
He said he treated respectfully those who had their own opinion. “There are independent people, with an opinion of their own,” he said. “I appreciate people who can say: ‘I believe that you are wrong’.”
Along with it, Putin said he would usually rely on personal perception in communications with people.
“Personal contacts are more important,” he said. “Although, especially, when we talk about making decisions, in particular, those related to personnel, there are certain rules. First one certainly needs to get information from various sources. This is natural. But in the long run, I try to make a conclusion based on my own impression of a person.”
“I worked for the KGB for almost 20 years and I know how the fact sheets are written,” he said. “These reports and materials are not always objective.”
“I try to rely on my personal impression, and direct contact and communication are important for me,” Putin went on. “And often my impression about a person is different from what I get from official documents. I judge by my own impressions of a person, not by papers.”
As he spoke about his friends whom the U.S., the EU and some other countries had placed on sanction lists, Putin said that by doing so the Western powers “have made one very pleasant for me and a systematic error.”
“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 a kind of hitting me,” he said.
Putin indicated, however, that the West’s assumption had nothing to do with reality.
“I believe, we have to a great degree put an end to the so-called oligarchy,” he said. “What is this /oligarchy - TASS/? This is money influencing upon power.”
“Today I can definitely say that we have no such situation in Russia,” Putin went on. “No oligarchic structures substitute for 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…”
“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 society,” he said.
Putin added he did not see anything hurtful in the fact his friends had fallen under the Western sanctions.
“On the contrary, I am a kind of glad about this,” he said. “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,” he said. “They have no relation to this, but this does credit to them.