On Thursday Russian President Vladimir Putin gave the first big news conference after the presidential election that lasted 4 hours and a half. It was a tough debate between the head of state and journalists. Experts note that the latter took the opposition’s functions upon themselves.
The first expectable question asked during the news conference was that on a draft law banning adoptions of Russian children by American citizens, the Novye Izvestiya daily reported. The theme turned to be so burning that it was raised in different variations five more times. Journalists handed out to the president 100,000 signatures against this ban that they had collected and the lists of disabled children, whom U.S. families are ready to adopt. But every time Putin answered one and the same thing that he did not know the draft law’s wording, but at the same time confidently described the State Duma’s decision as adequate.
At the news conference he, in fact, approved the amendment banning adoptions of Russian children by U.S. citizens calling the State Duma’s reaction to the Magnitsky Act as an “emotional”, but “adequate” response, the Kommersant business daily reported. The main argument Putin provided was the fact that the Russian side has no opportunity to track the future of children adopted by U.S. families.
The newspaper drew attention to the fact that when asked whether he will sign the U.S. adoption ban or not Putin gave no direct reply.
Despite the president’s position Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov repeatedly announced that he did not support the ban on adoption of Russian children by American citizens. “If we put a stop to adoption, that means one thing: that we will have to revoke the agreement on international adoption with the United States,” Lavrov told Euronews. “If we revoke it, we will no longer have any right legally to demand access to our children abroad. If only for that reason, I won’t react so strongly.”
Although Putin’s big news conference yielded no surprises as concerns his answers, but observers emphasized it stuck in memory by its atmosphere and journalists’ questions, the Izvestiya daily wrote. “The main revelation of the news conference is revival of public politics, public agenda under the conditions when the society feels demand for the opposition, but the old opposition fails to fulfil its functions being plunged into crisis,” the head of the Petersburg Politics Fund, Mikhail Vinogradov, said.
“In this situation the mass media had to take the opposition’s functions upon itself. This proved a sensation. The questions turned to be more resonant. In fact, this was a political debate, where Putin took part for the first time and where the media gave a proper response. This was the main revelation,” the analyst said.
“I consider the change in journalists’ mood the most important thing,” the deputy president of the Political Technologies Centre, Alexei Makarkin, was quoted by Izvestiya as saying. “The president’s reaction was predictable. I was surprised by tough questions and by the fact that journalists without getting answer on their question asked it for the second and third time. Earlier journalists were satisfied with that format of the answer that the president agreed to give.”
“The news conference distinctly showed two Putins, notably two very different ones,” the head of the Effective Politics Foundation, Gleb Pavlovsky, said. “One is economic and financial Putin. He showed high proficiency and felt himself absolutely confident and even relaxed, when spoke about economy and different sectors of economy. Quite different Putin appeared, when an unpleasant theme of the anti-Magnitsky law was forged ahead. And here we saw quite a different person, who openly demonstrated his discontent.”