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MOSCOW, April 16. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin will answer questions of the nation at his traditional annual question-and-answer marathon before television audiences, known as Direct Line due to start at noon on Thursday.
The Direct Line will be telecast by Russia’s TV Channel One, Rossiya 1, Rossiya 24, radio stations Mayak, Vesti FM and Radio Rossii. Sign language interpretation will be available at the programme’s website and on Public Russian Television.
The venue for the session will be located at Gostinny Dvor near the Kremlin. Politicians, public figures and heroes of TV reports have been invited to attend the Direct Line, presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov told journalists. They will have an opportunity to ask their questions to Putin. Apart from that, mobile studios have been organized in various localities across Russia to give an opportunity for people to speak to the president directly. This year, no live standups from abroad are planned.
The Direct Line organizers began to collect questions a week ago, on April 9. Ever since, about two million questions have been received and they will be received till the very end of the programme. Organizers register thousands of questions every minute, with the biggest numer being 3,135 a minute.
Questions to the president are coming from all around Russia and from foreign countries too. According to the presidential press secretary, the questions "make it possible to make an absolutely complete picture of Russia’s geography, of topical issues, problems people have, their attitudes to various events." Putin will answer the most frequently asked questions, most acute and unexpected questions. Information about most blatant abuses will be referred to relevant regional and sectoral authorities. "It is a good opportunity to take one’s eye off boring statistics and see what is really going on," the Kremlin spokesman said.
Peskov said over the past several years Putin had been preparing for the Direct Line brushing up some statistics and hearing reports and reference notes from various ministries and agencies.
Traditionally, the most frequently asked questions are linked with the situation in the social sphere and the housing and utilities sector. "We receive many complaints about local officials, of their attitude to people," the press secretary said. "People from many regions express their discontent." But all together, people seem to be concerned over the situation in Ukraine, sanctions and international relations more than in previous years.
This year, people are demonstrating bigger activity than in previous years. The Kremlin sees the reason in the "interesting and brisk times." "Last year, we were at the beginning of very important, crucial events. A year has elapsed, with its achievements and new challenges - natural and imposed from outside. This is a cumulative effect," Peskov noted.
Organizers never set any time limits for such question-and-answer sessions. "Everybody can envy the president’s ability to work," the press secretary noted. The record in terms of the Direct Line duration was set in 2013, when the marathon lasted for four hours and 48 minutes. Last year, Putin answered questions for three hours and 56 minutes.
This Direct Line will be 13th for Putin over his presidency and premiership. Put together, Putin’s previous question-and-answer sessions nearly reach three days in a row - about 36 hours.
Anyone can address his question to the president by dialing 8-800-200-40-40 toll free or via the internet www.moskva-putinu.ru or москва-путину.рф. Apart from that, it is possible to send a video address at the same websites or by means of a special app for mobile phones.
SMS and MMS messages may be addressed to 0-40-40 from phone numbers of Russian operators. The question is to be in Russia.