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Putin speaks on foreign agents, his achievements, Taliban at Valdai Club session

Russian President thanked Europe for sanctions and confessed that he raced electric cars at his Novo-Ogaryovo residence

SOCHI, October 22. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin believes that poverty reduction in Russia is his main achievement, as he himself said in response to questions from participants in the Valdai International Discussion Club session on Thursday. The head of state pointed out that the world was moving towards recognizing the Taliban movement (outlawed in Russia) and that Washington and Moscow were on the right track following the Geneva summit. He also thanked Europe for sanctions and confessed that he raced electric cars at his Novo-Ogaryovo residence. TASS has put together the most important and striking of the president’s remarks.

On the possible recognition of the Taliban

"It seems to me that we are getting close to doing so." "Russia's position will be to move in this particular direction" "but still, these decisions should be made the way they were made when the movement was blacklisted as a terrorist organization." US President Joe Biden "did the right thing when he withdrew troops from Afghanistan" but now the United States and Europe "should not avoid responsibility for current and future developments" in the country.

On the outcome of the Geneva summit

The Geneva meeting with US President Joe Biden was in general fruitful and created the impression that Washington sought "to build relations and revive them somehow and in some crucial fields." "It is safe to say that although the range of issues on which we agreed was not wide, we are still on the right track because it's about the most important issues of the day. On the whole, both the US administration and Russia are implementing the projected plans and moving forward." However, "we also see a certain setback, like we used to say, 'it's one step forward, two steps back.’ This also happens, but still, in terms of some general agreements, we are moving forward."

On Europe's gas crisis and carbon tax

The gas crisis "is the result of the European Commission's economic policy. Russia has nothing to do with it." "If the Europeans continue to pursue such a policy, they will share the fate of a wolf from a Russian folk tale. "One of the other characters takes the wolf tto an ice hole, makes him catch fish with his tail and keeps chanting: 'Let the wolf's tail freeze'." The idea of introducing a carbon tax in Europe "requires further elaboration." "We hope that it will be done in dialogue with other countries, including Russia."

On the law on foreign agents

The law on foreign agents does not prohibit people from having their own opinion and engaging in politics "but the money that comes from overseas should be marked as such so that Russian society is aware that this particular person has a certain attitude to domestic political processes and receives money from overseas." However, according to Putin, there aren't many foreign agents in Russia. "I think that the danger is greatly exaggerated." "However, the reasons for putting people on the foreign agent list will be assessed once again. "I promise you that," Putin said, addressing Novaya Gazeta Editor-in-Chief Dmitry Muratov, whom he also congratulated on receiving the Nobel Peace Prize.

On the situation in Mali

Private military companies linked to Russia may be present in Mali but "those are private companies, it's not about the government, they don't reflect the interests of the Russian state and if they are present somewhere, it's not based on the government's instructions." "If it runs counter to the interests of the Russian state - and unfortunately, it sometime happens - then we need to respond to that and we will do so."

On the situation in Ukraine

People of extreme political views have seized power in Ukraine, they rule the country "regardless of what the name of the head of state is." Even those who came to power relying on the support of the 'silent majority' failed to fulfill their election promises because "the aggressive nationalist minority deprived them of the freedom to make the decisions that the Ukrainian people were waiting for." "This is a deadlock. I don't actually understand how to break it. We'll see what will happen on Ukraine's political stage in the near future. For our part, we will do everything we can to build relations." However, NATO is already active in Ukraine, creating a threat for Russia. "What if missiles are stationed near Kharkov some day? What do we do about it?"

On the change of government in Germany

Russia is ready to enhance contacts with Germany under the a German government. "Germany's coalition government is expected to be a complicated one, with different political views." "We'll see what comes out of it in practical terms but we are ready for it." According to Putin, Angela Merkel could have run for chancellor once again. "[Helmut] Kohl, who reunited Germany, ruled the country for 16 years" (like Merkel - TASS).

On mandatory vaccination

"They say that hundreds and thousands of people think how to create laws, while millions think how to circumvent them. And as a rule, they win. So I think we don't need to impose anything, we need to convince people, proving to them that it's better to get vaccinated than to fall ill. There are only two options for almost everyone, either to fall ill or get vaccinated."

On the possible summit of the permanent members of the UN Security Council

It's possible to raise the question of expanding the UN Security Council and various decision could be made but "it's not for Russia to decide, it should be decided based on consensus." "The very idea [of a summit of the UN Security Council’s five permanent members] was received quite positively." "French President Emmanuel Macron welcomed it at once" but "some issues not related with Russia" interfered, including the coronavirus pandemic. "I do hope that it may materialize someday. It will certainly do good."

On European sanctions

"A thank you goes to the Europeans for sanctions in the field of agriculture." They triggered retaliatory steps and encouraged investment in import substitution efforts, including in industries. "And I should say that the impact is positive. I don't mind telling you that I was concerned but the impact is in general very positive."

On electric cars

"I do race this kind of cars in Novo-Ogaryovo, it's true. There's no difference (from regular cars), I don't see much difference, but they are smart, good vehicles."

On his most important achievement

According to Putin, his most important achievement as a state official is that poverty has halved in Russia. "We used to have 40 million people living below the poverty line and now the number is over 19 million to 20 million, according to various estimates, which is still too many but it's not 40 million. This probably would be the main achievement.".