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Direct Line with Vladimir Putin: President’s annual Q&A session

The Russian president addresses the nationwide audience for the 17th time

On National Projects 

Russia’s National Projects are aimed at bringing the country’s economy to a new level, improving the well-being and ensuring security for years to come, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at his Q&A session.

"The ultimate goal of all these events [in the framework of the National Projects] is to put the economy on a new track and make it high tech, increase labor productivity, and on this basis to improve the living standards of our citizens and ensure the security of our state for the long historical perspective," the president said. 

The results of the implementation of national projects must be seen as early as in 2019", Putin stressed.

"The results must be felt now - this year, next year and so forth. They must be reflected in people’s incomes, and wages," he said. 

He admitted the existence of certain problems in the implementation of Russia’s National Projects. "But we do have positive trends as well," he said, pointing out that "it is not about, as they would say in the Soviet era, that the current generation of Soviet people would live under communism, but no one knew what ‘the current generation’ really meant," he recalled, touching on what leaders in the USSR used to say. "And then, the Olympic Games were held in Moscow in 1980 instead of communism," he said jokingly.

The president drew attention to the measures to develop healthcare and education systems. According to the president, despite "certain negative factors," national projects make it possible to "consolidate resources and spend them on these purposes, to achieve results and make a breakthrough in the long run."

"This is what the national projects are geared to," he stressed.

Measures undertaken by the Russian government and the Central Bank to secure funding for the National Projects turned out to be correct, Putin believes.

The Russian government resorted, in particular, to increasing the value-added tax (VAT) from 18% to 20% to finance the National Projects, the head of state pointed out. "However, we expect from the very beginning that it may and will definitely lead to adverse, so to say, consequences for a very short period of time," the president said.

"In general terms, the Government and the Central Bank hit the mark," Putin said. Inflation slightly increased for six months, the Central Bank raised the key rate as a result, and so on, the head of state said. "However, now we see that production started growing, inflation has already dropped below 5% according to the latest data," Putin said. In addition, the president noted that revenues started recovering.

Putin points to rebound in public’s real income

The real incomes of Russian citizens had been on the decline over several years, with the steepest decrease recorded in 2016, President Putin noted. 

However, the head of state pointed out that a gradual recovery in the public’s real incomes has already begun.

"Indeed, the real incomes of citizens declined over several years. The biggest drop was in 2016. Now, incomes are gradually recovering," he said.

The president noted that it is necessary to differentiate between the two concepts - real disposable incomes of the population and wages.

"Real disposable incomes of the population, which are declining, according to statistics data, consist of many indicators - of income and expenses. Loan repayments is one of indicators of expenses to date. Banks extend loans to citizens, so to say, against the pledge of 40% of the salary, which is risky. In my opinion, the Central Bank should pay attention to that because we do not need these bubbles in the economy, "he said.

Putin noted that the reduction of the shadow sector in the economy also negatively affected real income statistics. "We have approximately 100,000 self-employed people who legalized their activities and the so-called shadow market has shrunk - this also affects real incomes in the negative direction," the president noted. 

On Syria 

It is possible to resolve the Syria issue through the joint efforts of all interested parties, including the United States, Vladimir Putin believes. 

"We can make agreements with our partners in order to resolve pressing issues. Among the problems that we need to solve together with those of our colleagues with whom we have achieved significant progress - I mean Turkey and Iran - and other parties involved in the conflict, particularly the United States, concern the political settlement process, the formation and launch of a constitutional committee and efforts to determine the rules for its activities," he said.

In addition, Egypt, Israel, Jordan and other Middle East countries, including that European states that "suffer from the migrant issue," need to join the Syrian settlement process, Putin added.

"We all need to work together," the Russian president emphasized.

When asked if Russia and the United States could make a big deal on Syria, Putin said: "What do you mean by ‘a deal?’ Sounds like it is a commercial enterprise. No, we trade neither our allies, nor out interests, nor our principles," he pointed out.

On Huawei and US containing China 

The current attack on Chinese tech giant Huawei is part of a policy aimed at containing China’s development because the country has become the United States’ rival, Vladimir Putin said . 

"Let’s take the attack on Huawei: where did it come from and what is the reason behind it? The only reason is to contain the development of China who has become a global rival to another global power, the United States," Putin emphasized.

Putin's Q&A

Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses the nationwide audience during his annual Direct Line question and answer session, during the course of which he regularly manages to answer a multitude of questions flooding in by telephone, text, email, social media, or live via television studios.

According to infographics released by the Rossiya-24 channel, a total of 1,053,326 questions have been submitted as of 09:00 Moscow time on Wednesday. More than half of them (616,505 questions) were submitted by phone, while 291,311 were transmitted via SMS and MMS messages, 55,133 through the mobile app, 49,800 by way of the program’s website and 40,557 over social networks.

This will be Putin’s 17th Q&A session. The very first ‘Direct Line with Vladimir Putin’ was held in late 2001. Since then, this renowned event has been held annually, except for 2004 and 2012. Last year, the Q&A marathon took place on June 7.

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