Russian President Vladimir Putin, annual press conference, attended by Russian and foreign
media, in Moscow on Friday, December 23.
Conference begins at 9:30 of video.
Posted December 26, 2016
of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon,
colleagues, friends. Let’s begin.
agreed with my assistant here that I will not make any
lengthy opening remarks, so let us get down to business,
to your questions. Go ahead, please.
Presidential Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov:
Following a tradition we have, I propose that we give
the first question to one of the most experienced
members of the Kremlin’s press pool, who, I think, has
been working in it since the end of last century. Valery
Sanfirov, Mayak radio station, your question, please.
Mayak radio station, Vesti FM, Radio Rossii.
President, the year is coming to an end, so it is time
to take a look at the state of the Russian economy.
At meetings on economic and other matters held
throughout this year you have often used such terms
as ‘turbulence,’ ‘hitting the bottom’ or ‘reaching yet
another low’. I can even quote a joke you shared with us
at last year’s news conference, saying that 2015 was not
as bad as it could have been. How could you describe
the current state of the Russian economy? Thank you.
This is a traditional question and a natural thing
to ask. Of course, we are analysing our performance over
the past year. As usual, this performance needs to be
put into perspective. We need to look
at the macroeconomic indicators of 2015 and compare them
with what we have achieved in 2016.
As you can
probably guess, I have the latest figures that we
reviewed yesterday with colleagues and a number
Russia’s GDP, which is the key indicator, dropped 3.7
percent. This year GDP also declined, but we are not
talking about a contraction of this magnitude any more.
Initially we believed that the GDP would fall by about 1
percent, but this figure was later adjusted to 0.7
percent and then again to 0.6 percent. In November,
national GDP inched up. Overall for the year we are
expecting a decrease in GDP in the range of 0.5
percent – 0.6 percent.
increased thanks to growth in industries of the real
economy, such as machine building, truck manufacturing,
heavy machine building, manufacturing of road-building
equipment, transport machine building, the chemical
industry, light industry, processing and, of course,
agriculture. Growth in agriculture was substantial – 2.4
percent last year. We expected 3.2 percent growth this
year but the current figure is 4.1 percent
and the yearend figure will be at least 4 percent.
I think this is a very good trend and we must try
to maintain it.
also the inflation rate. You remember that it was rather
high last year, even for our economic system. One
of the reasons was the import replacement programme
in agriculture and the ensuing market disproportions. We
could not substitute everything we had imported. But
agriculture has demonstrated very good dynamics,
and the inflation rate will be different this year.
I would like to remind you that the previous lowest
inflation rate – 6.1 percent – was reported in 2011. It
will be below 6 percent this year. We had thought it
would be around 5.7 or 5.8 percent, but it will be most
likely around 5.5 percent. That is a record low
inflation rate and a reason to believe that we will soon
be able to reach the target inflation rate of 5 percent
and subsequently 4 percent.
that our budget deficit was 2.6 percent [of GDP] last
year. It will be slightly larger this year – I will
explain why later. The figure for the first 10 months is
2.4 percent, but the yearend figure will be 3.7 percent.
I believe that it is an acceptable figure, in part
because we have a foreign trade surplus of over $70
billion. We have maintained our reserves.
It is true
that the Government’s Reserve Fund has decreased
a little bit, but the National Welfare Fund is almost
intact. The Government’s reserves are estimated at some
$100 billion, while the Central Bank’s foreign reserves
have increased. They amounted to $368 billion
at the beginning of the year, if memory serves,
and by now they have grown close to $400 billion,
or more precisely more than $385 billion. In other
words, we are doing well in this respect, too, and this
is a solid safety net.
cargo shipments are on the rise, which means that
the economy is recovering. This is a very positive
any other encouraging signs? Capital outflow is
decreasing. Just look at the trend: in 2014, the outflow
exceeded $150 billion, but in 2015 it was $57 billion.
This year, it came in at just $9 billion in the first 9
or 10 months, and is expected to total $16 billion – $17
billion in 2016, taking into account payments under
loans, etc. Overall, the trend is quite encouraging.
the problems? Are there any issues? Of course, there
are. We have to ensure further economic growth
and higher industrial output, real disposal incomes have
somewhat declined, which is not a very good thing
in itself, since it leads to lower consumer demand
and thus affects investment. That said, there is
a positive side to it, as well: over the last several
months we have been seeing a rise, albeit a modest one,
in real wages in the real economy, which is a positive
development that gives us reason to believe that
the positive trend will remain in place in the near
As for the social sphere, the demographic trends remain
positive. Natural population growth continues. The birth
rate has slightly decreased, but the mortality rate also
declined. Overall, there is a positive trend in terms
of natural population growth. This is how things are.
regard it can be said that we are advancing
in accordance with the plan that was publicly announced.
It is being implemented, and the performance so far has
been quite positive.
agriculture media holding. My name is Marina
Sevostyanova. My question has to do with subsidies
for Russian agricultural machine manufacturing.
these subsidies benefit two industries, both
manufacturing and agriculture. My question is to what
extent do you believe these support measures are still
needed? Are there any plans to expand them and make
anti-crisis initiatives permanent?
Anti-crisis measures cannot be permanent. They are
intended to help specific industries, in this case you
mentioned the manufacture of agricultural equipment,
overcome current challenges and put them on the path
of steady growth. This is about demand, and there is no
doubt that it is our job to ensure that there is demand.
By the way,
agricultural machine-building, which, if I didn’t
already mention before, I will now, has posted very good
growth. This is one of the sectors that is now driving
industrial growth rates and, ultimately, our GDP
figures. But we need to set a clear course of having
this and other industrial production sectors live not
on state subsidies but on natural demand.
How do we
create this natural demand? By developing
the agriculture sector itself. If we develop the sector
and our agribusinesses have more money at their
disposal, they will be able to invest more in buying new
equipment and this will support agricultural
As I said,
the trend is very good here, with agriculture up
by slightly more than 4 percent, and I am sure that
as this sector continues to grow, demand will grow with
it, and this will support the agricultural
machine-building sector too.
though, these trends are still fragile and so we need
to support them. The Government will continue providing
state subsidies next year to the sectors that need it.
A total 10 billion rubles have been earmarked
for industry as a whole, and 216 billion
for agriculture. I hope that these combined measures
will produce positive results.
are on the subject of agriculture and there will
probably be more questions on this sector, let me say
that we have been celebrating along with the rural
population lately, celebrating this record harvest we
have had. We said it would be a record 117 million
tonnes. In fact, it will be more than 119 million
tonnes, which is quite simply an excellent result,
and I want to thank the farmers for their work.
is an unprecedented achievement in our recent history.
There were similar results back in the 1970s, when
Russia was called the RSFSR, even slightly bigger
in 1973 and 1976, but we know that even with those
bumper harvests foodstuffs and fodder were still
in short supply back then.
The structural changes and organisation
in the agriculture sector today show that the result we
have now is something unique and offers us excellent
opportunities for developing the sector further.
Alexander Kolesnichenko, Argumenty i Fakty.
a good opportunity to double-check the economic growth
you are talking about. Everyone says the world is
on the threshold of some serious economic changes
and even revolutions. Economic growth will be impossible
in principle without new technology and this will
seriously change the place of many countries
in the world.
talked for a long time about a new technological
paradigm. You devoted much time to this in your recent
address. That said, it seems that in some areas we are
lagging even further behind, for instance, in IT,
as well as in production and social development with IT.
fallen far behind others. Could this be forever? It
would be interesting to know your viewpoint, your
opinion, if you could be more specific about this. Maybe
you could even explain what the biggest problems are
and what to do about them. Thank you.
Some experts believe our economy is unresponsive
to scientific achievements and modern high-tech economic
trends. I think this is not quite so because the problem
with economies like ours is that it is possible to take
in big revenue from the energy-related sector and it is
difficult to compel business to invest in other areas if
there is one area where they can make quick and fairly
the structure of the economy, give it a new dimension
and create development prospects, our Government has
for many years taken steps to subsidise certain areas
of economic development, primarily, high-tech
industries, of course. Yes, for the time being we invest
less in high-tech industries than the OECD,
in the economy in general, and the difference is
considerable. The OECD countries invest about 2.4
percent of their aggregate GDP in it compared with
Russia’s 1.2 percent.
efforts have produced the first results. First,
the authorities and businesses have joined efforts
to adopt the National Technology Initiative, as you
know. We are drafting a comprehensive economic
development plan to 2025. The Government is to complete
and make it public by May. Priority development areas
are being created in the Far East and eastern Siberia
as zones of high-tech production with special
incentives. In general, special incentives have been
available in several sectors, including the IT sector,
for the past few years, and we can see the results.
the results? For example, IT exports were around zero
several years ago. Today we export $14.5 billion worth
of weapons and $7 billion worth of IT products. I have
cited these figures before. Many of our high-tech
sectors have become competitive. They may look like mere
growth points now, or individual achievements, but we
are certainly a global leader in many areas, including
those we have led traditionally, such as civilian
nuclear technology, space exploration, some aviation
sectors, and the like, as well as in the defence
industry, which has experienced exceptional growth
also carry over to civilian sectors. You know that
the Government has been instructed to translate
the current positive trends in the defence industry
to civilian industries. By and large, I believe that
there is no reason for despair. More than that, there
are grounds to believe that we will not simply achieve
leadership in many key spheres, but will also preserve
this leadership for decades. Of course, we proceed from
the belief that we must become part of the global trend
and even lead the transition to a new technological
revolution. We have every chance of doing so,
considering the high level of development in research
says ‘Tatars’, and the other ‘Not without Tatars…’ So,
what about Tatars, what is the problem?
Mr President, my name is Yelena Kolebakina, Business
Online business newspaper.
the following question. As you probably know, there are
more and more troubled banks in the country. It is not
uncommon for the Central Bank to revoke …
What does this have to do with the Tatars? How cunning
Hold on, that is not all.
It is not
uncommon for the Central Bank to revoke licences
and suspend operations, and Tatarstan has not been
spared. Of course, individual depositors will get their
deposits back in the amount set by law, which is 1.4
million, while small enterprises that you support so
much, they will go bankrupt, since they are viewed
as third-rank creditors, so more often than not they end
up not getting anything back.
is whether a fund of some kind should be established
for legal entities that would operate just
as the Deposit Insurance Agency does for individual
depositors? Maybe you have some idea of how this issue
can be resolved? Maybe we will end up having just four
or five federal state-owned banks? In your opinion, do
we need small regional banks?
First, almost all experts, both Russian and foreign,
support the Central Bank in its efforts to improve
the financial system. No one believes that in doing so
the Central Bank of the Russian Federation is doing
something wrong. Nobody believes that. These efforts are
undertaken above all in the interests of depositors. If
organisations that are not financial institutions
at all, but money laundering vehicles, remain
on the Russian market, it will do no good,
and depositors will be the ones to suffer. It is
for protecting the interests of individuals that
the deposit insurance system was introduced.
as I am aware, the Central Bank is working closely with
Tatarstan authorities. The President and Government
of Tatarstan, which is one of the regional leaders
in the Russian Federation in terms of development
in the economy, social sector and many other areas, are
working with the Central Bank to find ways to support
all depositors, including legal entities. There are
legal procedures in place in this area, the provisions
we have today, but of course we will need to take
a close look at how to support our industrial companies
and small and medium business.
The Tatarstan bank you mentioned is not some small
establishment but a sizeable institution. As far as not
simply the big banks but also small banks and small
and medium business go, as I said in my Address
[to the Federal Assembly], if you noted, we need
a network of smaller regional banks too, and the Central
Bank could apply different regulatory requirements
for these smaller banks. The idea is to take
a differentiated approach, apply tougher requirements,
closer to the Basel III, to big banks and banks that
play a central role in the system overall, including
regional banks, and apply less stringent requirements
to small regional banks working with small and medium
business and with ordinary people. This would give them
greater flexibility in working with their customers. But
a lighter regulatory framework should not mean lower
quality of these establishments, and the financial
authorities must continue their oversight role here.
As for the bank you referred to, let me say again that
the Central Bank and the authorities of Tatarstan
continue their work and this process is proceeding quite
Good afternoon, Mr President.
is connected, in part, to your Address [to the Federal
Assembly]. You said that the fight against corruption is
not a show. There are too many shows like this around.
Take the story of [Federal Customs Service Director]
Andrei Belyaninov. He has been nearly ruined, his name
dragged through the mud, but later it turned out he was
framed. Or take [Economic Development Minister Alexei]
Ulyukayev, a close and confidential associate, whom you
dismissed overnight, citing the loss of trust. Did you
talk with him? Did you ask him for an explanation? Do
you have it? Is it possible that these headline-grabbing
cases are not about fighting corruption and that they
are an imitation created for public attention, or your
attention, in order to get a seat closer to you?
If I may,
I asked a question at last year’s news conference,
and I would like to ask the same question again. It
concerns the murder of Boris Nemtsov. Are you monitoring
the investigation? Do you, as a lawyer, consider
the related developments convincing? Do you,
as the Supreme Commander-in-Chief, believe that Russian
officer Ruslan Geremeyev, who has not appeared in court
for testimony, must appear in court?
I will begin with the last part of your question.
Of course, I closely monitor the so-called high-profile
cases, especially when they concern murder,
in particular, the murder of Boris Nemtsov. Of course,
I support everything the investigative authorities have
done to establish the circumstances of this case
and to identify the persons involved and the culprits.
It is not
surprising that officials, people who held official
positions, including in law enforcement agencies,
sometimes commit crimes, even very serious crimes. This
has happened in Russia and other countries before. Take
the horrific, tragic murder of our ambassador in Turkey.
Do you know who killed him?
So there is
nothing new in this, and we will continue working
consistently to establish the circumstances
and to identify the criminals. The investigative
authorities usually achieve this goal in the majority,
if not all high-profile cases, although this can take
years, as in the case of Galina Starovoitova and several
other cases. Unfortunately, we have not yet established
all the circumstances surrounding the murder of Mikhail
Manevich, with whom I had a close personal relationship.
His murder has not been solved yet.
As for other high-profile cases, including Mr
Belyaninov, there was no case against him. I fully agree
with you in this respect and consider it unacceptable
that information about the pre-investigation actions
taken, including searches and the like, was leaked
to the media. Such leaks damage business and personal
Mr Ulyukayev: I did not talk with Alexei Ulyukayev.
I believe that the information provided by the related
agencies was sufficient reason to remove him from his
position due to loss of trust. We will know what this
leads to after the trial. Making any conclusions before
this is improper and harmful.
Vyacheslav Terekhov, also one of the most esteemed
members of the Kremlin press pool.
Thank you very much.
Everything for the Kremlin press pool. “How can one pass
over a relation!”
We have been working together for a long time – that is
why. Mr President, we have been implementing 11
executive orders and 270 provisions – the so-called May
executive orders – for five years now. We have been
working and working… There is probably no money
The budget shows that there are cuts everywhere.
please tell me whether I am right in assuming that
the sale of a large stake in Rosneft, in part to foreign
investors, will fund the implementation of the May
executive orders and the economy? But will foreigners be
able to give us the money now that the banks are under
sanctions? If so, are you ready, is the country ready
to sell stakes in large state-owned companies
to maintain the current state of affairs?
I could answer your question until tomorrow morning
because it has to do with the budget, implementation
of the May executive orders and privatisation. In fact,
it boils down to three major issues.
of the budget, yes, we proceed from the most
conservative forecasts, notably, $40 per barrel next
It is true
that budget spending will decrease in percentage terms
from over 18 trillion to just over 16 trillion but
in absolute terms it will remain constant – 15.8
trillion rubles in 2017, 2018 and 2019. Coupled with
5,000 ruble payments to pensioners next year
and the so-called income-related costs and revenues,
this will be a little over 16 trillion – 16.1 trillion
rubles. But we have made all the allocations needed
to deliver on social commitments, including those stated
in the 2012 Presidential executive orders.
we will fully and completely retain our support
for the industry. It will amount to 2.6 percent
of the GDP – even a little higher than this year.
I think this year it was 2.2−2.3 percent.
defence is the biggest spending item in the budget.
In 2011, we spent 2.7 percent of our GDP on defence.
This year, and over the last five years, we have
substantially increased defence spending. This year’s
figure will come to 4.7 percent of GDP. Next year,
the figure will be 3.3 percent, and in 2019, 2.8
percent. We will arrive at this level of 2.8
and maintain it there over the several years to follow.
This will not affect out plans to strengthen our
country’s defence capability because, as I said, we have
invested substantial funds in this sector over the last
five years. What is very important is that we will pay
off all debts to defence companies this year, and this
makes it possible for us to programme the financing
levels I just mentioned.
selling stakes in state-owned enterprises not because we
lack money for particular budget expenditure items, but
for several other reasons.
bringing in new owners will help to improve our
economy’s structure. These new owners include Swiss
trading company Glencore and the Qatar Investment
Authority. Our position is that the arrival of these new
representatives on the management board will improve
the management quality of the company, which is already
among the most effective in the world. This was also
part of our budget revenue plans, programmed into
the budget right from the start, not to finance any
particular sector, but for a variety of reasons all
As for the money the foreign buyers are paying
for the 19.5-percent stake they are acquiring
in Rosneft, it has already been paid in full into
the Russian Federation budget.
itself paid slightly over 300 billion for Bashneft,
and the foreigners have already paid their share –
slightly over 700 billion. Overall, the budget received
around 1.1 trillion from the Bashneft sale and the sale
of a 19.5-percent stake in Rosneft.
My name is
Nathan Hodge, Moscow Bureau chief of the Wall Street
Journal. Is there a possibility of an early presidential
election next year?
What country are you talking about?
Laughter in the audience)
The Russian Federation.
I can tell you right away. It is possible, but not
a statement yesterday on strengthening the strategic
nuclear capability. Could you elaborate on these plans
in greater detail?
May I ask you to better articulate your question? What
exactly in my statements at the Defence Ministry Board
meeting caught your attention?
On a personal level, what interests me is the production
of new kinds of nuclear weapons. We know of course how
hard it is, since nuclear tests are banned. Perhaps you
simply could not help but respond to Mr Trump’s
statement yesterday on nuclear weapons?
Regarding the US President-elect, Mr Trump, there is
nothing new here. On the campaign trail he talked about
the need to strengthen the US nuclear capability
and armed forces. So there is nothing unusual here.
I was quite surprised by statements coming from other
official representatives of the current administration,
who for some reason started to argue that the United
States has the most powerful army in the world. But
nobody suggested otherwise.
listened carefully to what I said yesterday, I talked
about strengthening the nuclear triad and in conclusion
said that the Russian Federation was stronger than any
potential – and this is key – aggressor. This is a very
important point, and not an incidental one.
it mean to be an aggressor? An aggressor is someone who
can attack the Russian Federation. We are stronger than
any potential aggressor. I have no problem repeating it.
I also said
why we are stronger. This has to do with the effort
to modernise the Russian Armed Forces, as well
as the history and geography of our country,
and the current state of Russian society. There are
a whole host of reasons, not least the effort
to modernise the Armed Forces, including both
conventional weapons and the nuclear triad.
I must say,
and this is no secret, we have nothing to hide, that
indeed, we have put a lot of effort into modernising
Russia’s nuclear missile potential, and our Armed
Forces. This also applies to our Strategic Missile
Forces, which are deployed on land; this concerns our
sea-based forces; this is all open information, we are
not hiding anything. We are deploying new strategic
nuclear submarines with new types of missiles on board.
This also applies to our air forces. I am referring
to both the carriers, i.e. the aircraft, and the strike
systems they have under their wings. We operate
in strict compliance — I would like to emphasize this —
in strict compliance with all of our agreements,
allow me to repeat something I consider extremely
important. In 2001, the United States unilaterally
withdrew from the ABM Treaty. This agreement was
certainly the cornerstone of the entire international
security system. We were told then, “We are not doing
this against you, while you…” I said, “We will have
to react somehow, we will need to improve our strike
systems in order to defeat these missile defense
systems.” And they said, “Well, you can do whatever you
want, we will proceed from the idea that you are not
doing it against us.” So that’s what we’re doing.
Although many prefer to ignore this fact, but this is
exactly what we have basically agreed to, tacitly,
without signing any documents. So nothing new is
So why are
current US officials suddenly claiming that they are
the strongest and the most powerful? Yes, indeed, they
do have more missiles, submarines and aircraft carriers.
We will not even argue with that. We are saying that we
are simply stronger than any aggressor. And this is
Crimea: Point of Attraction. Introduce yourself, please.
I am Maxim Nikolayenko, Kryminform [Crimea Inform]. Our
news agency was established barely a week before Crimea
reunified with Russia. So three years is a long time
in Crimea and Sevastopol differ on the losses
and achievements of that period. I think that our
opinions are subjective because we lack complete
information. This is not the case with you. You
certainly have complete information not only from
reports but also from other sources.
you assess Crimea’s development and the rate of its
integration in the Russian economy? It is not an idle
question. You may have had to answer it often, but
the implementation of the federal targeted development
programme to 2020 in Crimea and Sevastopol is not very
successful, though it has not gone off the rails either.
The implementation rate is less than 5 percent
in Sevastopol, and the figure for Crimea is not
available yet. In this situation, it is very difficult
to see which industries are worth developing in Crimea.
Another objective reason for this delayed development is
the lack of power. Thank you for launching a power
bridge to Crimea. We had enough gas of our own
for consumption, but we face a severe shortage
of additional electricity resources for development. We
need more gas and new power stations.
but I must ask one more question, about the project
of the century, the Crimean Bridge. The project is
absolutely transparent, and we know almost everything
about it, except for one detail – the name. We call it
the Crimean Bridge, but Muscovites have different
associations. The name “Kerch Bridge” has not taken
hold, and no other ideas are being discussed. What would
you name this bridge?
You just said it, Kerch Bridge. I did not suggest
the name. I suggested that the bridge be built, and you
suggested the name. (Applause)
By the way,
projects to build a bridge [to Crimea] were proposed
in tsarist Russia and also in the Soviet era.
The [German] occupiers almost built a bridge, but they
miscalculated and it was destroyed by the spring ice
breakup. There is a demand for this bridge. I hope, no,
I am sure that we will eventually normalise relations
with Ukraine, and this bridge will be very important
for the development of Russian-Ukrainian trade
and cultural ties. The bridge is an important element
of infrastructure, which will have an impact
on the economy as a whole, not just the tourism
to the beginning of your question, that is, the progress
of integration. You know that the programme
for the development of Crimea stipulates very favourable
conditions in terms of Russian law, that is, free
economic zones. However, it turned out that rapid
integration comes with legal and economic complications.
And you cannot blame it all on the federal authorities.
They have provided the funds, but you must dispose
of them competently, promptly, effectively, sparingly
and rationally. But this is also a problem for local
officials, who cannot understand how to adapt their work
to Russian law and administrative procedures. Adjustment
takes time. I can tell you that this process is ongoing,
and at a fast rate.
an increase in industrial output in Russia. In some
manufacturing industries, we see major growth of up
to 20 percent. In general, growth will be low, under one
percent, around 0.7, 0.8, 0.9 percent of industrial
output; while in Crimea it is six percent, and 25
in Sevastopol due to federal orders placed by our
The unemployment rate is below the Russian average. It
is at a good level in general. If we go back
to the first question, it is one of the indicators (it
was not you who asked this question, I believe). We had
5.6−5.7. This year, it will be 5.5, and even lower
in Crimea, which is very good.
industries could hold promise for Crimea? Of course,
ship repair, shipbuilding, and certain branches
of the chemical industry. They are already there and,
overall, they work well. All they need is support.
Of course, agriculture, as well. By the way, 3 billion
rubles were allocated to support agriculture this year,
I believe. That is five times more than last year,
and 10 times more than in 2014. It is important to make
good use of that money and to achieve the best value
for the money spent.
of course. I have no doubt that with the opening
of the Kerch Bridge tourism will increase dramatically.
I would like the high-tech industry to develop in Crimea
without harming the environment and to create high-tech
and well-paid jobs. There is an issue here. Salaries
and incomes in Crimea are below the national average.
In Russia, the figure is about 35,000 rubles on average,
whereas in Crimea it is 24,000, perhaps 24,500,
and a little more in Sevastopol – slightly above 25,000.
But I am sure these numbers will level out.
to take the necessary steps to ensure that at least
in the federal government bodies at the regional level
salaries are equal to the national average.
I have no
doubt whatsoever that in a while it will level out.
By the way,
there are Russian regions where income levels are lower
than in Crimea. But, in view of Crimea’s potential, I am
certain there will be growth in this important social
area. We need to resolve issues that have remained open
for decades. I am referring, primarily, to healthcare.
It is necessary to build a good hospital, a clinic
in Simferopol. An advanced clinic will soon be built
on the southern coast of Crimea outside Yalta. There is
a problem with personnel training, because people have
never used such equipment. However, this issue is being
addressed. Let us combine our efforts and work on it
President, the world is going through a period
of fundamental change. We saw the expression of popular
will, when people vote against old political concepts
and old elites. Britain voted to leave the European
Union, although it remains to be seen how the Brexit
issue will pan out. Many say that Trump won because
people voted, among other things, against the old
establishment, the people they have become sick
and tired of.
discussed these changes with colleagues? What will a new
global landscape look like? Do you remember what you
said at the General Assembly when the UN celebrated its
70th anniversary? You said, ‘Do you
understand what you have done?’ Where are things headed?
We are still locked in a confrontation. You have
mentioned the exchange about who has the strongest army.
At his farewell news conference, Barack Obama, who is
still your colleague, said that 37 percent
of Republicans sympathise with you and hearing this
Ronald Reagan would have rolled over in his grave.
That 37 percent of Republican voters sympathise with
Yes. And if Ronald Reagan had heard it, he would have
turned in his grave.
By the way,
we as voters very much appreciate your power and that
you can reach as far as Ronald Reagan. Our western
colleagues often tell us that you have the power
to manipulate the world, designate presidents,
and interfere in elections here and there. How does it
feel to be the most powerful person on Earth? Thank you.
I have commented on this issue on a number of occasions.
If you want to hear it one more time, I can say it
again. The current US Administration and leaders
of the Democratic Party are trying to blame all their
failures on outside factors. I have questions and some
thoughts in this regard.
that not only did the Democratic Party lose
the presidential election, but also the Senate, where
the Republicans have the majority, and Congress, where
the Republicans are also in control. Did we, or I also
do that? We may have celebrated this on the “vestiges
of a 17th century chapel,” but were we
the ones who destroyed the chapel, as the saying goes?
This is not the way things really are. All this goes
to show that the current administration faces
system-wide issues, as I have said at a Valdai Club
to me there is a gap between the elite’s vision of what
is good and bad and that of what in earlier times we
would have called the broad popular masses. I do not
take support for the Russian President among a large
part of Republican voters as support for me personally,
but rather see it in this case as an indication that
a substantial part of the American people share similar
views with us on the world’s organisation, what we ought
to be doing, and the common threats and challenges we
are facing. It is good that there are people who
sympathise with our views on traditional values because
this forms a good foundation on which to build relations
between two such powerful countries as Russia
and the United States, build them on the basis of our
peoples’ mutual sympathy.
be better off not taking the names of their earlier
statesmen in vain, of course. I’m not so sure who might
be turning in their grave right now. It seems to me that
Reagan would be happy to see his party’s people winning
everywhere, and would welcome the victory of the newly
elected President so adept at catching the public mood,
and who took precisely this direction and pressed
onwards to the very end, even when no one except us
believed he could win. (Applause).
The outstanding Democrats in American history would
probably be turning in their graves though. Roosevelt
certainly would be because he was an exceptional
statesman in American and world history, who knew how
to unite the nation even during the Great Depression’s
bleakest years, in the late 1930s, and during World War
II. Today’s administration, however, is very clearly
dividing the nation. The call for the electors not
to vote for either candidate, in this case, not to vote
for the President-elect, was quite simply a step towards
dividing the nation. Two electors did decide not to vote
for Trump, and four for Clinton, and here too they lost.
They are losing on all fronts and looking for scapegoats
on whom to lay the blame. I think that this is
an affront to their own dignity. It is important to know
how to lose gracefully.
But my real
hope is for us to build business-like and constructive
relations with the new President and with the future
Democratic Party leaders as well, because this is
in the interests of both countries and peoples.
over there says “Give the floor to Vologda optimists.”
Vologda optimists, please go ahead. Mr Peskov, sorry
to break your plans. We must finally listen to what
greater Russia has to say.
Mr President, this is about import replacement.
Something you talked about a lot today, something our
economy relies on. If we remain independent, we will
win; if we fail, we’ll have problems.
the question: Do you think it might be possible
in the nearest future to establish a club
of manufacturers in Russia, an association of the most
prominent representatives of business who have achieved
the greatest success in import replacement? Here is why
I am asking. Suppose, in a small municipality there is
a business that has set up a phenomenal production line,
rolling out world-class quality products at a profit,
all in a very short time. How does it spend this profit?
On two things. Firstly, it invests it in production
development, thus promoting further development
and expansion of production. Secondly, it donates these
profits for the restoration of Orthodox churches. So
here is the question. Such people must be recognized
somehow, because they have literally invested millions,
hundreds of millions of rubles – and by provincial
standards you can imagine that this is a lot of money.
These people’s motivation should be of interest
and relevance even at the federal level, to the federal
government and you personally. What do you think about
I would like to thank those people who are engaged
in such projects, helping to restore our historical
and spiritual values. This applies not only to Orthodox
churches, but also to synagogues, and to other religious
buildings in all our traditional religions, including
Islam, including Buddhists. Here in Moscow, by the way,
there are problems with Buddhist temples, I am aware
of it, and we will for sure help with that.
As for import replacement, you said we either win or we
have problems. But problems always exist and they always
will. But there is no doubt we will win. And here's why.
Because this so-called import replacement is already
bearing fruit. For instance in industry, our imports
have declined by 10 percentage points, from
49-something, to 39 percent. This is a very serious
change. We have made significant steps in import
replacement for a variety of industries:
the pharmaceutical industry, the chemical industry,
the light industry, heavy machinery, and road machinery
(nearly 100 percent Russian-made). We have major changes
indeed. Let alone the defence industry, which has seen
serious internal structural changes. This is especially
important to our achieving technological independence.
agriculture. We have discussed the increase in inflation
over the past year. This year, with the growth
of agricultural production, inflation has become
significantly lower (for a number of other reasons, but
due to improved agricultural performance as well).
Therefore, I have no doubt that we will achieve
the desired result. We are not going to be isolated.
The Russian economy certainly has to be part
of the global system if we want to grow – and we do want
to grow and develop the high-tech sector. And this will
happen. But where there is the possibility
of restoration or recreation, or any innovative steps
that are entirely within our control, especially
in the high-tech area, we are definitely going to go
down this path and I am sure we will achieve good
results, the results we want.
Sovetsky Sport, please.
I am Nikolai
Yaryomenko from Sovetsky Sport.
the oldest sport newspaper in the country, 92 years. We
have seen a great deal. But we write about more than
just scores, medals and seconds. We are concerned about
the country’s future in sport, and it appears,
unfortunately, that we care more than some of our
officials do. We have seen that some officials were
fired or moved to other posts after the publication
of Mr McLaren’s two reports, even if not immediately.
Can we say that the doping situation in the country is
improving thanks to these personnel reshuffles? Will it
improve, or are the actions taken towards this end not
sub-question is: Can the mega-monster, WADA, be reformed
or should it be replaced with some other organisation?
It is not a strictly sports question, as many people see
a political component. Is there a political component?
Let me begin with doping as such and the problem
of doping. First, Russia has never created – this is
absolutely impossible – a state-run doping system
and has never supported doping, and we will do our best
to prevent this in the future. I wanted to repeat this
as my first point.
like any other country, we have a doping problem. We
must admit this and by doing so, we must do everything
in our power to prevent any doping. As such, we need
to closely cooperate with the International Olympic
Committee, WADA and other international organisations.
We will do this. I hope that the ongoing changes, which
are not only about personnel but are systemic
and structural changes, will help us achieve these
goals. In addition, the Investigative Committee
and the Prosecutor’s Office are investigating all cases
of alleged doping, and they will bring these cases
to their logical conclusion.
As for the so-called whistle-blowers who ran away from
the country, grass up everyone or make up things,
I would like to say a few words. I do not remember
exactly the name of the person who fled Russia. He
headed the Russian Anti-Doping Agency. But where did he
work before that? In Canada. And what did he do after
that? He came to Russia and brought all kinds of nasty
stuff with him, while serving as a high-ranking
official. It is hard to imagine that he managed to cross
the Canadian or US border carrying banned substances
without being detected. You know what it means. Many
of you have crossed the US and Canadian borders, there
are very strict controls there. He travelled back
and forth many times to bring this nasty stuff here. It
was his personal undertaking, he forced people to take
these substances, and even came up with some sort
of sanctions against those who refused to do so,
for example, the swimmers. When he was exposed, he
escaped law enforcement, fled, and started slurring
everyone in order to protect himself and secure a place
in the sun in hope of a better life. At a certain point
he will get what he wants. But after that, just as it
happens to any rascal, they will drop him. Nobody needs
people like this. Why did he not fight here? This makes
me think that somebody was behind him. They waited
for a certain moment and started spreading these false
stories. But this does not mean that Russia does not
have a problem with doping. We do have this problem,
and we must fight it. We must acknowledge this,
and in doing so we must focus on athletes’ health.
As for WADA, I am not entitled to assess its
performance. It is up to the International Olympic
Committee to do it. However, as I have already said,
operations of any anti-doping agency, including WADA,
should be completely transparent, clear and verifiable,
and we must be informed about the results of their work.
What does this mean? This means that the international
sports community should know who is to be tested, when
and by what means, what the results are and what
measures are being taken to punish those responsible,
what is being done to prevent such incidents
in the future. What’s going on? Are we talking about
the defence industry? No. But in this case it is unclear
why everything is so secretive? This should be an open
process. They always ask us to be transparent.
Transparency is very important in this area.
fail to agree with what a number of legendary athletes
said about the recent decisions to cancel major
competitions in Russia. They said that nobody knew
anything. But if it was known before, why was it made
public right now? You know, politics are always involved
in cases like this. Just as culture, sport should be
free from politics, because sport and culture should
both help bring people together instead of driving them
Kristina Liver, regional newspaper Altaiskaya Pravda,
President, I would like to ask you about regional loan
debt. We all know that this is a big issue.
question is, are there plans to give more independence
to the regions regarding their financial possibilities?
Let me add
to this that Altai Territory’s state debt comes to 6
percent of the region’s own budget revenue. This is
the lowest figure in Siberia and the sixth best result
in Russia as a whole. Mr President, will the state
authorities support regions that do not get into debt,
do not borrow from commercial banks, live according
to their means and pursue a balanced financial policy?
The Government supports all regions. For donor regions
we try to create the conditions they need to remain
donors. We help them to develop infrastructure,
for example, like in the case of Moscow Region
and Moscow. We have done a lot to develop Moscow
Region’s infrastructure. It is enough to look
at the latest developments in the transport sector
in Moscow and Moscow Region.
the same for other regions too. Take St Petersburg,
for example, where the Western High-Speed Diameter
motorway has just started operation. This is
a ground-breaking new piece of transport infrastructure
for the entire north-western part of our country. There
are good examples in other regions too.
As for regional debt, yes, this is a serious issue.
Under Government and Finance Ministry rules, a region’s
debt should not come to more than 50 percent of its own
revenue. In this respect, Altai Territory really is
in a very good position. This indicates that
the regional authorities are carrying out a balanced
and highly professional budget policy.
happens, only five regions have not kept to this
principle, and these regions do need particular support
and attention, of course. Overall though, the issue is
a serious one. Combined regional debt comes to more than
2 trillion rubles today, though the Government is taking
necessary measures to resolve this problem. This year,
if I remember well, a little over 380 billion rubles was
spent on refinancing these regions’ loans, taking their
debts away from commercial banks and putting them into
Finance Ministry loans instead, which are accorded
for long-term periods and at a symbolic one-percent
interest rate. This work will continue and we will make
the needed resources available for this purpose next
year as well.
Steven Rosenberg, BBC News. Thank you. I’d like to ask
a question in English. Is that okay?
President, your country has been accused
of state-sponsored hacking with the aim of influencing
the results of the US presidential election.
And President Obama has hinted very strongly, he thinks
that you are behind that. He said that not much happens
in Russia without Vladimir Putin.
And President Obama revealed that he told you personally
to cut it out. So, what did you tell him in response?
And can you confirm that you were warned by Washington
not to tamper with America’s election, warned
in a message via the so-called Red Phone, the crisis
line between your two countries?
And finally, just coming back to the point about Donald
Trump’s tweet yesterday. Are you not concerned there is
a danger of a new arms race, if America is talking about
boosting its nuclear arsenal? Thank you.
The United States paved the way to a new arms race
by withdrawing from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.
This is obvious. When one party unilaterally withdrew
from the treaty and announced that it would be building
a nuclear umbrella for itself, the other party either
has to build the same umbrella (which seems unnecessary
to us considering the questionable effectiveness of this
programme), or develop efficient means of overcoming
this missile defence system and improving its own
missile strike system, which we are doing successfully.
We did not concoct this. We have to respond to this
about our progress (and we have advanced significantly),
yes, we are progressing, but within the boundaries
of our agreements. I would like to emphasise this. We
are not breaching any terms, including START III. We
abide by all the agreements regarding the number
of nuclear delivery vehicles and warheads.
recently, US observers came to our nuclear plants
and watched how we produce missiles and nuclear devices.
Do you all remember that? Instead of maintaining our
relations in a similar fashion, the United States
withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. It was
not we who did it.
have made progress in improving our nuclear triad
systems, including the means to break through missile
defence. This system is currently much more effective
than missile defence, it is true. Perhaps this is what
is prompting the United States to improve its own
nuclear arsenal. Well, this is what they are doing.
for example, the replacement of tactical nuclear weapons
based in other countries, including Europe, including
your own country, Great Britain. This is happening.
I hope that the audience of your programmes and online
readers are aware of this. American tactical nuclear
weapons are being replaced in Turkey, the UK
and the Netherlands. So if anyone is instigating this
arms race, it is not us.
But I would
like to stress that this is also very important for our
domestic consumption, for domestic policy. We will never
be dragged into an arms race to spend more than we can
afford. I already said in my answers to several
questions in the beginning that defence spending
amounted to 2.7 percent of the budget in 2011 and 4.7
percent this year but next year we plan 3.3 percent and,
eventually, 2.8 percent by 2019. We will maintain this
bar because we have already taken some necessary
measures to move towards modernisation that must bring
us to the point where 70 percent of the armaments will
be new and advanced by 2021. Now the advanced weapons
amount to almost 50 percent, with around 60 in some
segments and 90 percent in the nuclear segment.
Therefore, we are satisfied with the current progress.
Everything is going according to plan.
interference and what we discussed with President Obama.
You may have noticed that I never speak about
the private conversations I have with my colleagues.
about the interference. I already responded to one
of your fellow journalists from the United States.
The defeated party always tries to blame somebody
on the outside. They should be looking for these
problems closer to home.
keeps forgetting the most important point. For example,
some hackers breached email accounts of the US
Democratic Party leadership. Some hackers did that. But,
as the President-elect rightly noted, does anyone know
who those hackers were? Maybe they came from another
country, not Russia. Maybe somebody just did it from
their couch or bed. These days, it is very easy
to designate a random country as the source of attack
while being in a completely different location.
But is this
important? I think the most important thing is
the information that the hackers revealed to the public.
Did they compile or manipulate the data? No, they did
not. What is the best proof that the hackers uncovered
truthful information? The proof is that after
the hackers demonstrated how public opinion had been
manipulated within the Democratic Party, against one
candidate rather than the other, against candidate
Sanders, the Democratic National Committee Chairperson
resigned. This means she admitted that the hackers
revealed the truth. Instead of apologising to the voters
and saying, “Forgive us, our bad, we will never do this
again,” they started yelling about who was behind
the attacks. Is that important?
my conversation with President Obama, again, it is
my rule to never talk about this in public. I am aware
that his aide recently made a public statement regarding
that conversation with Mr Obama. You can ask my aide, he
will answer. Mr Peskov is here.
“Environment”. This is important.
Mr President, thank you for the opportunity to ask you
to wish you a happy New Year and good health. The same
goes to all our colleagues in the audience and,
in general, everyone in this country.
a strategically important question which deals with
Russia’s development in the sphere of environment. You
declared the year 2017 the Year of Environment. I am
aware of it, and I had published in the newspaper
the text of your Executive Order on the State Council
meeting scheduled for December 27 that will discuss
a strategically important topic – Russia’s environmental
development for future generations. This is the first
time it is being articulated in the ideology
at the official level that the environment is for future
my question: won’t officials fail to live up
to the upcoming Year of Environment? As far as I can
remember – and I have been publishing the newspaper
for 17 years now… Allow me to introduce myself – Sergei
Lisovsky, editor-in-chief of the Society
and Environment newspaper. I have been publishing it
in St Petersburg for 17 years now. From my experience
I can see that officials failed to live up to the Year
of Environment in 2013. I asked you this question during
the G20 meeting. You admitted it and said that you will
fix it. There’s a transcript on the kremlin.ru website.
You got me.
I have a specific proposal. I have extensive experience
in this area. I would like, if possible, to attend
the State Council meeting on December 27.
a specific proposal and a question. Is it possible
to open environmental departments at the embassies
of the Russian Federation so that they could articulate
Russian domestic policy for external consumption?
I believe that the West is no longer concerned about
the environment and engages in anything from
manipulation, wars, and revolutions around the world,
whereas the issue that the West proclaimed
in the 1990s – sustainable development – has gone down
to something like 105th position on the list
of their priorities. On the contrary, Russia is taking
the environment to the forefront. This is my first
point – to open these departments.
point is probably very important for Russia's domestic
policy. We need to change the information
and environmental policy on our TV toward environmental
and patriotic policy. Because you can see just about
anything there from all kinds of shows and glamour which
destroys young people’s minds. If instead we offer
environmental and patriotic broadcasts, they would
formulate a holistic outlook on the world, and we
wouldn’t have to deal with different consequences, such
as corruption or other bad things. That is, people would
be healthier. Hence, my question. Thank you.
On the one hand, you said that everything failed
in 2013. On the other hand, you said that we are doing
a lot to protect the environment, and attacked our
Western partners a bit because they do little in that
agree with you that the Western countries, the United
States and Europe, are paying less attention
to protecting the environment than before. The best
evidence of this is the efforts of the French President
to promote the adoption of the Paris agreements
on reducing atmospheric emissions. France did
an enormous amount of work in this area and not without
success. We agreed to limit emissions, and this was
a complicated issue. Russia made fairly stringent
commitments and I do not doubt that we will comply with
them. For the time being it is difficult for me to say
to what extent other countries will follow suit. We must
still deal with the matter of implementing these
agreements. We are ready for this in practical terms. We
will have to see what the accords on implementing these
agreements will be like technologically, but we will
deal with this.
domestic policy, environmental protection has obviously
been and will remain one of the main components of our
entire work. We must leave an environmentally prosperous
country to the future generations. I am quite concerned
about pollution and huge dumping sites. Quite recently,
at the Russian National Front Forum we discussed this
in detail. Right now I will not take up too much time
of all those present – there are other matters
to discuss – but you know that the Government has
a definite plan on this issue and we will be working
on it all.
conservation is another area. Obviously, we will not be
able to do without changes to current regulations.
Naturally, we must provide raw materials for the timber
industry as well as jobs for the people employed by it.
However, we must be equally concerned with forest
protection because if we do not do this, if we do not
take care of forests and parks in towns and around large
cities, we will soon have nothing left at all, because
removing forests from these places is the easiest
and cheapest thing to do – they have the roads and other
requires a very serious, thoughtful approach
and analysis involving such organisations as yours
and the media. I am very grateful to you – both to you
and your colleagues who are engaged in this work. They
snoop around forests and are not afraid of axes. Indeed,
this work is like combat. I am hoping we will continue
this work in cooperation with you. I would like
to invite you to attend a meeting of the State Council.
Mr Peskov, make a note please.
Yes, will do.
The word “Pensions” is written there. It is a very
important issue. Please.
Hello. My name is Yulia Izmaylova, editor with
the newspaper Molodoi Leninets, Penza.
concerns the categories of people who are allowed
to retire early. We hear about a growing number of cases
in which these people, including teachers and medical
personnel, have to turn to the courts to defend their
right for an early retirement. This brings me
to my question: has the need emerged for the system
of early retirement to be reformed? If possible, can you
tell us what pensioners should expect next year?
Since you are concerned with this matter, you should
know that not long ago, in the 1990s and early 2000s,
the size of pensions did not depend on the length
of service or the amount of wages. We applied
a one-size-fits-all approach, and many people pointed
to this, and said that this was unfair.
made major changes. What exactly did we change, and what
is the basis of the current pension system? It rests
on three pillars: the length of service, the size
of wages before retirement, and the age at which
a person decides to go on pension and formalise his
or her pension rights. These are the three elements
underlying the new pension system. They will remain
unchanged, and we will be guided by these fundamental
principles to further improve our pension system.
As for early retirement, it is true that we should pay
more attention to and more thoroughly analyse this
issue. There are very many groups of people who are
allowed to retire early. I will not jump ahead and talk
about our plans, but I will tell you that any
innovations in this area should be discussed in public
and should only be adopted after a thorough analysis. We
will proceed very carefully.
As for the near future, I can tell you that early next
year, all pensioners, including military retirees
and comparable categories, will each receive a one-time
payment of 5,000 rubles, irrespective of the size
of their pensions, just as we planned. By the way, 5,000
rubles is a bigger sum for many categories of pensioners
than the potential indexation of their pensions
throughout the year. We have approved sufficient
budgetary allocations next year to index retirement
pensions to actual inflation in 2016 on February 1.
In other words, we will resume operation in compliance
with the relevant law. I believe that social pensions
will be indexed on April 1.
How about TASS News Agency? The media heavyweights have
been left out in the cold so far.
a question on Ukraine. The Ukrainian crisis has evolved
into a frozen conflict. There is a feeling that the two
sides have stopped hearing each other. Where is the way
out of this deadlock? There is the Normandy Format. How
effective is it? Was there any desire to change
anything? Do your meetings with the leaders of Germany,
France and Ukraine help resolve anything? By the way,
what do you think about the prospects for visa-free
travel between Ukraine and the European Union?
colleague has a poster with ‘Ukraine’ written on it.
Please, ask your question too, and I will try and answer
them all at once.
By the way, this is a journalist from Ukraine who has
been working in Moscow for a long time.
I am not sure that you will be able to combine the two
in recent years your country under your leadership has
caught so many Ukrainian citizens that even world-famous
film directors are asking you to free a Ukrainian
director. As a Ukrainian reporter, I would like to ask
you to grant clemency and release Ukrinform reporter
Roman Suschenko, since cases brought against Ukrainian
nationals seem to have a political agenda. Under
the torture that Crimean commandos Zakhtey and Panov had
experienced anyone, including me and even you, would
admit to being a Ukrainian spy.
like to ask you a specific question. You have said
on a number of occasions that you felt compelled
to protect the Russian-speaking population in Crimea
and Donbass. Last year you said that it was never
a secret that you had sent people to Donbass to deal
with military matters. Could you clarify where this is
mentioned in the Minsk Agreements, and do you understand
that if you retire someday, Ukrainians will still view
Russians as occupiers.
It would be good to begin by making sure that
the Ukrainian army is not viewed as an occupying force
in Donbass, which is Ukrainian territory. This is what
matters. This is my first point.
as for freeing people. We are doing all we can
to release people detained by both sides. The fuller
this exchange will be, the better.
a time when President Poroshenko proposed exchanging
‘everyone for everyone.’ I fully support this approach.
It later turned out that there are some details in this
‘everyone for everyone’ formula that do not suit all
of Donbass representatives. What are these details?
In fact, Ukrainian authorities consider the detention
of people in Donbass to be illegal. At the same time,
there are many people imprisoned in Ukraine whom
the Ukrainian authorities consider to be lawfully
convicted, and refuse to put them on the exchange lists.
This is the crux of the problem. If we are to have this
exchange, there should be a decision to pardon these
people and free them all. Otherwise, it would be very
hard to agree on anything.
On the subject of directors and journalists, the latter
should do journalism and the former make shows
the detained Ukrainian military service personnel
and military intelligence officers, no one tortured
or beat them. It is easy enough to check the confessions
they have made. It should be no difficulty for the media
to check whether they are military intelligence officers
or not. They have given full details, not just their
names and registration information, but the names
of their units, commanders, the units they served in,
the missions given them, and their addresses and meeting
places on Russian soil, including in Crimea. They have
given all this information. This provides a whole range
of information and the different elements confirm each
other. This all has to stop. If the political will can
be found to do this, it will be easier to resolve
the other issues.
to journalists and movie directors, of course no one
wants to detain journalists if they are simply carrying
out their professional duties. But what are we to do
with a film director if he is preparing to commit
terrorist attacks, and this was proven in court? Are we
to let him go simply because he is a movie director? But
how does he differ from a career military intelligence
officer planning to do the same thing? If we let a film
director go today, will we have to let go career
intelligence officers preparing terrorist attacks
tomorrow? What difference is there between them in this
particular case? Do we let one go today and have others
come tomorrow? We need to agree that all of this must
stop, and only then can we start considering amnesties.
I don’t have anything against this idea.
answer the question from TASS.
certainly right. It is hard to combine questions.
What was it there? The Minsk agreements, the Normandy
format, and what else?
on the possibility of introducing visa-free travel
between Ukraine and the European Union.
The Normandy format has indeed not proven especially
effective. It remains only to regret this lack of real
effect. But this is the only mechanism we have
at present and I personally think that work in this
format should continue. If we abandon this instrument,
the situation would worsen quite rapidly, and we would
not want this to happen.
As for visa-free travel to Europe for Ukrainian
citizens, I fully support it. Moreover, I think visas
in Europe are a Cold War anachronism, and need to be
abolished as quickly as possible. So if Ukraine,
Ukrainian citizens are allowed to travel to Europe
visa-free, I think it would be a step in the right
direction. But as far as I know, we are only talking
visas that do not give the right to work. So
the question is, will the inflow of Ukrainian workers
increase anyway? It certainly will. In Russia, according
to preliminary data alone, there are 3 million
Ukrainians. If they can go to Europe without a visa
and earn a little more, people will certainly try
to move there, even from Russia, let alone from Ukraine.
This will put a serious burden on the labour market
On the other hand, there might be negative implications
for Ukraine as well. Without the right to work,
Ukrainians coming to work in Europe will find themselves
in a very humiliating position. This means that they
will have to work illegally, that is, they will arrive,
say, for three months under the visa-free agreement,
then go back to Ukraine, check in and go back
immediately. This means that they will work illegally.
This means that they will not enjoy social protection
or any protection, for that matter. They will be
subjected to serious exploitation. And that is bad.
Therefore, if they allow visa-free entry, they need
to give work permits as well.
for the first time, Russia and Turkey have succeeded
in resolving a major important issue with Syria without
involving the West. I am referring to Aleppo. So, Russia
and Turkey have such potential. But will Ankara
and Moscow be able use this potential in the future?
Will Iran, Russia and Turkey withstand the insidious
games in the Middle East? This new triangle, this
alliance – will it be able to play a key role
in settling the Syrian conflict?
to ask a second question. You and Mr Erdogan reached
an agreement on Syria in October 2015, but it was
an informal agreement. Then a Russian plane was shot
down. In June, relations began to normalise. That was
followed by a coup attempt. Today, Russia and Turkey
have begun to collaborate on a settlement in Aleppo, but
the Russian Ambassador was murdered in Ankara. Do not
you think this is a coincidence?
Let us start with the final part of your question, with
the tragedy that happened recently, I mean the murder
of our ambassador. I think primarily, that was certainly
an attempt to compromise Russia, to compromise
Russian-Turkish relations. No doubt about that.
I will be straight with you. I was sceptical about
the idea that our aircraft was downed without the order
of the Turkey’s top leadership but by people who wanted
to harm Russian-Turkish relations. But now after the gun
attack on the ambassador, which was committed by a riot
police officer, I am beginning to change my mind. Now it
seems to me that anything is possible.
And the infiltration of Turkey’s government agencies,
including law-enforcement and the army, by destructive
elements is certainly deep. Right now I am not
at liberty to point fingers elsewhere and accuse someone
of something, but we see that this is a fact, this is
obstruct the development of Russian-Turkish relations?
No, it will not, because we understand the importance
and role of Russian-Turkish relations and will do
everything to develop them with due account of Turkish
interests and, no less important, Russian interests.
During the past year, or to be more precise, after
the normalisation, we managed to find compromise. I hope
we will be equally successful at finding compromise
in the future, too.
Now a few
words about Aleppo. Indeed, the President of Turkey
and the President and all leaders of Iran in general
played a very large role in resolving the situation
around Aleppo. This involved exchanges and unblocking
several areas with a Shiite majority. Perhaps this will
sound immodest but this would have been simply
impossible without our participation, without Russia’s
this cooperation in the trilateral format definitely
played a very important role in resolving problems
around Aleppo. Indicatively, and this is extremely
important, especially at the last stage, this was
achieved without military action, as the Defence
Minister just reported to me about this work
at the final stage. We simply organised and carried out
the evacuation of tens of thousands of people, and not
only radical armed groups and their representatives but
also women and children. I am referring to the over
100,000 people who were evacuated from Aleppo. Thousands
were moved out of other residential areas in exchange
for this withdrawal from Aleppo.
the biggest – and I want to emphasise this for all
to hear – the biggest international humanitarian action
in the modern world. It could not have been carried out
without the active efforts of the Turkish leadership,
the Turkish President, the President of Iran and all
other Iranian leaders, and without our active
participation. Needless to say, this would not have been
achieved without the goodwill and efforts of Mr Assad,
the President of the Syrian Arab Republic, and his
staff. So, experience shows that there is a need
for this format and we will, of course, develop it.
I would not
disregard the interests and the involvement of other
countries in the region, such as Jordan, Saudi Arabia,
and, of course, Egypt. Undoubtedly, it would also be
wrong to approach issues of this kind without a global
player such as the United States, so we are willing
to work with everyone.
step, while we are at it, should be an agreement
on a ceasefire throughout Syria, immediately followed
by practical talks on political reconciliation. We
suggested Astana, Kazakhstan, as a neutral territory,
and the President of Turkey agreed. The President
of Iran also agreed as did President Assad. President
Nazarbayev has kindly agreed to provide this venue.
I very much hope that we will manage to put it
on a practical footing.
This has become a tradition: I tried three times during
the previous news conference as well
Anton Vernitsky, Channel One. I have a question about
the internal situation in Russia, namely, taxes
taxes, such as income tax and real estate tax, which
have been gradually increasing over the past five years
and will reach their peak at some point – they increase
by increments of 20 percent.
in addition to taxes which we all pay regularly, there
are fees that are very similar to taxes, but are not.
For example, fees for the capital repair of buildings.
On the face of it, healthcare services look free, but
some of the services are provided for a fee. Education,
kids go to school for free, but some additional
education is also provided for a fee. Take parking,
for instance. Vehicle owners have probably gotten used
to paid parking in downtown Moscow, but paid parking is
already coming to suburban commuter areas.
aware of what is happening in this area? Should we be
expecting more surprises here? Thank you.
You know, you need to distinguish between taxes
and non-tax fees. Taxes are made up of three components:
personal income tax, vehicle tax and property tax, which
are still the world’s lowest.
begin with the 13-percent personal income tax.
Of course, you are aware that when we introduced
the flat rate of 13 percent in 2001, there were lots
of doubts. I, too, had many doubts. I was concerned that
the budget would lose revenue, because those who earn
more would pay less, and whether there would be social
justice, and so on.
already mentioned it several times, but, as I see,
I should say it again. The outcome of introducing a flat
13-percent personal income tax was that personal income
tax collection has increased by a factor of seven. Those
funds go to the treasury and are then distributed
to address social issues – this is what social justice
is all about.
a differentiated individual income tax system be
introduced? It can. Maybe that will be done one day, but
right now I do not think it would be sensible. Because
as soon as we do this, the first step would be followed
by the second, third and fifth, we would get entangled
in this differentiation and in the end this would lead
to tax evasion, and budget revenues would decline.
social justice, it can be achieved by other means,
without changing the flat tax system. How? Such
decisions have already been taken. This applies,
for example, to raising the tax on expensive transport
vehicles. This has already been done, and the system can
be fine-tuned. Raising the tax on expensive property.
That has also been done, and the system can also be
fine- tuned, and so on.
the second component: non-tax levies. Do I know how that
happens? Of course I do. Do I know the intricate details
of how this works? Of course not. But is this even
possible? You see, this is not a tax system. These are
tariffs and levies that are set either at the level
of municipalities, of which there are thousands,
or at the level of federal entities: it is very
difficult to keep track of everything there. This is
a problem – now I will talk about how we plan to deal
with it – because the burden is really growing.
this problem be addressed? In any event, it is necessary
to see what is happening in this area. To this end,
the Government has received its instructions, and next
year, I believe by June, what is known as a registry
of non-tax levies will be created so that we can have
a clear understanding of what is going
on in the country, in the regions and municipalities
with respect to this burden, and regulation will be
regulation at the federal level, let me remind you that
we have frozen tariffs. We proceed based on the idea
that, say, a derivative of energy and heating tariffs
will be reflected accordingly in housing maintenance
and utilities rates, which is extremely important.
the main method of controlling tariffs in this area is
to reduce inflation, and as I said at the beginning
of our conversation today, last year it was 12.9 percent
and this year it will be the lowest on record
in the entire modern history of Russia. If we maintain
our efforts to bring it down and, for example, reach
a level of four percent, that will significantly
stabilise the tariff situation.
take a look, you have a better view – you sit higher up.
As the Chinese say, “he who sits higher sees further,”
and they are right.
Perhaps we should hear the Kuzbass miners?
Good afternoon Mr
President. My name is Andrei Zheltukhin and I represent
the news site 142, which is part of the holding company
Kuznetsky Alyans. I have questions on two issues
of concern to our region’s people.
the M-53 Baikal federal highway crosses the centre
of Kemerovo and this creates big problems in the form
of traffic jams, accidents, road wear, and exhaust
fumes. Kemerovo is probably the only city beyond
the Urals that does not have a bypass road. Our
company’s founder and long-serving director, Mikhail
Shkuropatsky, is even ready to take the initiative
and collect money to build a bypass road, but this will
obviously not be enough. My question is, can the federal
authorities do something to help resolve this problem?
question deals with the coal sector’s development,
a subject of concern to me, of course. It is believed
today that coal is a polluting fuel that damages
the environment and should therefore be abandoned, but
no one wants to hear about the new technologies that
exist, and yet today’s modern coal power plants have
technologies that capture all harmful emissions. What is
your view on the future of Kuzbass and Russian coal?
First, concerning infrastructure development. In this
case, the issue covers many different areas,
infrastructure development itself, and resolving
environmental issues. We always support projects of this
kind. If someone is ready to co-finance these projects,
let me assure you that we will do everything possible
to support them at the federal and regional levels. We
will definitely examine the proposals that come in from
the regions and will do all we can to ensure these
projects go ahead, all the more so in a region like
Kuzbass, where we know there is a serious burden
on the environment. This is my first point.
as for coal and its future as a primary source
of energy, there is much talk about the need
for a transition to alternative energy. By the way,
Russia is moving in this direction, including hydrogen
fuel, wind and solar power. We are working on all these
issues. I have recently visited a RUSNANO company where
this cutting-edge forward-looking technology is used.
At the same
time, I would like to draw your attention to the fact
that the European Commission, for example, has decided
to scale back subsidies in these areas. Why? Because it
is very expensive. Of course, these technologies should
be improved. But for now they are quite costly, and they
are surely less efficient compared to traditional energy
sources. Here is what I would like coal miners, as well
as other colleagues, to hear: today more coal is used
across the world than oil and gas combined. Well, maybe
not necessarily oil and gas combined, but it is
certainly ahead of natural gas, and maybe even oil
and gas combined. This goes to show that coal remains
a key element in the global energy mix.
right to say that the latest technology should be used
in order to make coal more eco-friendly. I know that
Kuzbass is acting along these lines. Many industrial
companies across the world and in Russia implement
high-technology processing methods to create new
products, including coal dust that can be used
in the wider energy industry. I am confident that if we
move in this direction Kuzbass and coal miners elsewhere
will have a bright future and a lot of work. Of course,
this is related to the overall economic development
in Russia and beyond, including the metals industry.
Unfortunately, the metals industry has somewhat
contracted both globally and in Russia, and there are
some challenges that need to be addressed. However, I am
confident that it has a future.
RIA Novosti, regarding oil.
As a follow-up to my colleague’s question. Yelena
Glushakova, RIA Novosti.
a question about oil. What will happen with it? What do
you think will happen to oil prices? The current price
is $40–$50 per barrel. Is that enough for the Russian
economy? Will the Russian budget cope with reduced oil
production, which we agreed to as part of our agreement
with OPEC? What price of oil, do you think, is the best
for the Russian economy?
Today, as far as I know, Brent is selling not at $45,
but $55, I checked this morning. I have already
mentioned that we are drafting a budget based
on conservative estimates of $40 per barrel. If you go
back to the first questions of today’s agenda,
as the bureaucrats say, then I can tell you that we got
the results that we did due to the fact that the real
situation was worse than our forecasts, because we
drafted the 2016 budget based on oil prices of $50 per
barrel, but it ended up being $40. Despite that, both
the GDP trends and inflation have changed, and we have
kept our reserves. So, this is a significant factor
in the overall analysis of developments in our economy.
The global economy is worse off, but our performance is
better. This means that the economy has adapted and will
continue to grow.
the prices and their impact on us. No one can say
for sure, this is a complex issue which depends on many
variables, and predicting them is almost impossible. Our
Ministry of Energy has already provided its forecasts.
We believe that the excess oil will leave the market
in the second half of 2017, and oil prices will
stabilise. We hope they will stabilise at their current
regard to how our economy will respond to a decline
in oil production, I can say that we took this step
deliberately. We have a relatively high ”production
shelf“ as of the end of this year. The decline
in production, which we have committed to, stands
at 300,000 barrels per day for the period from January
to June. This will be a smooth reduction, which will
have almost no effect on the overall production volumes,
which is absolutely acceptable for us. However, we
expect that this will lead to an increase in oil prices,
which has already happened.
state of affairs remains unchanged, how will it affect
the budget and our companies? The $10 difference in oil
prices would mean additional budget revenue of 1.75
trillion rubles. For oil companies, despite declining
production, the difference of $10 in oil prices will
provide an additional income of 750 billion rubles. That
is, everyone will win in the end. This is the first such
OPEC decision over the past eight years, I believe.
this result would not have been possible without our
good will to work in conjunction with OPEC. We will
continue to cooperate with OPEC, meaning we will meet
our obligations. However, we are not OPEC members,
and while we maintain contacts with them, we, as we meet
our obligations, are free from any other commitments
until we achieve common results. So far the results are
evident, we are striving to achieve them. We believe
that such cooperation is beneficial both
for the countries that are not members of the cartel,
and for OPEC itself.
Sagadatov, editor-in-chief of newspaper Za Suverenitet
Rossii [For Russia’s Sovereignty], Ufa.
start by thanking you on behalf of our readers for all
you are doing to strengthen our defence capability
and for the fight you are leading to restore and bolster
our country’s sovereignty. We hear you very clearly,
and when you say that some might wish to live in a state
of semi-occupation, we certainly do not, and we do not
want a weak government controlled from abroad, – we
agree with you completely.
As we see
it, our country has internal issues that we could
describe as follows. Of late, the media have started
making frequent use of the word ‘war’ in combination
with various qualifiers – cold war, hybrid war,
information war. But the word ‘war’ remains the main
word here. In a war situation, our people, who have
a good genetic memory, always recall our history
and the past wars we fought and always won, even if we
encountered losses and setbacks on the way. Our memories
return us to more recent history – to the Great
that time with today’s situation, the following question
arises. Our economy, industry, ministries and agencies
often follow the rules laid down by international
organisations and are managed by consulting companies.
Even our defence enterprises have foreign consulting
firms auditing them. You raised the issue of NPOs
(non-profit organisations) at one point, and we went
on to learn of foreign influence and foreign agents. But
the consulting issue has not been addressed.
ask if it is not time to do some import replacement
in this area too, and is it not up to us to decide what
development course to take and what we need to do? These
issues concern not just the economy but, regrettably,
spill over into the ideological sphere, too. There are
a great many issues in this area. In other words,
the stream of imports that came flooding into our
country brought with it numerous problems, which have
already been mentioned today, and we saw our traditional
values getting trampled underfoot. We think there is
a need for some ‘import replacement’ in this area, too.
this issue has become ever more urgent of late, I would
like to know if any measures are planned in this area?
You are talking now about economic sovereignty –
an extremely important issue.
As for patriotic sentiments – you are from Ufa, aren’t
you? – we know well the sentiments in Bashkiria. It has
always been this way by tradition in Bashkortostan, even
in olden times. Let me recall that during the 1812
Patriotic War, Bashkiria armed, mounted on horses
and sent to the front its entire male population
starting from age 16. It did the same in the Great
Patriotic War of 1941–1945. We should certainly be proud
of this and support this.
As for economic self-sufficiency, as I have already
said, this concerns not only import substitution but
also the independence of our financial system, bank
cards, interbank settlements, and so on. There were many
elements that we considered immutable and immune
to potential political differences.
turned out that this was not the case and that we were
simply cheated: when it was necessary to exert political
pressure, they instantly started using economic levers.
Therefore, we should bear this in mind, especially when
it comes to our defences.
As for consulting and various rating agencies, which is
no less important, we should, of course, think it over.
This is a complicated issue. It is abundantly clear that
we should establish our national rating agency
and develop our own consulting service. We are doing
this and the only problem is that these structures must
be absolutely transparent and absolutely accepted
by the business community. Otherwise their activities
would be pointless.
remove all our partners from the market without creating
similar structures that enjoy the respect
and recognition of our businesses and international
business, our entrepreneurs will sustain certain losses.
This is the case, because everything that will be
brought to grass, as miners put it, all information
released by our domestic companies will not be
considered by potential investors, if these companies
are not recognised worldwide. This is a bad story,
as this may lead to a cut-down on investment, and not
only foreign investment but our own investment as well.
do need to move forward and enhance our sovereignty
in this area, and we will certainly work on this.
Let us give
the floor to the Poles. This will probably be about
the difficulties and tragedies of the past, referring
to the airplane [crash]. What would you like to know?
Zaucha, TVN, Poland. Indeed, two years ago I asked you
here in this hall about the plane wreckage. You said you
would talk to the Investigative Committee. Here is what
I would like to know: How did they respond? We know that
they responded and that the investigation is continuing.
However, unfortunately, seven years have already passed
since the tragedy. Perhaps all studies and examinations
have been completed and so only a political decision is
needed to hand over the wreckage. Maybe that should be
considered? Of course, this is entirely in your hands.
point. Recently it has often been said that Poland is
moving away from the European Union. There are similar
trends in other European countries. From your
perspective, is a weak Europe more convenient, more
beneficial for Russia? Is Russia using all these
disagreements, conflicts and problems within
the European Union to its own advantage or is that not
I will begin with the first question. Indeed,
the Investigative Committee is conducting
an investigation and until it is over they need
the plane wreckage. This is the first point.
regarding the essence of the matter. Listen, all
the speculation on this issue needs to stop. A terrible
tragedy happened. I personally read [the transcript of]
the conversation between the pilot and the man from
the late president’s security who had entered
the cockpit. I personally read that transcript. The man
who entered the cockpit (I do not remember his name but
his name is known) demands to land. The pilot says:
“I can’t. It is impossible to land.” To which the man
from the presidential entourage who entered the cockpit
says: “I can’t report this to the boss. Do all you can.
everything is clear. What is there to speculate on? This
is a terrible tragedy. We have done our best
to investigate it. This should not be used to aggravate
interstate relations – that is all. Everything is clear.
If there is something that is not clear, let
investigative agencies deal with that.
regarding the weaknesses and strengths of Europe, what
that means and what our position is. No doubt, we want
to have a reliable, strong and – this is not
unimportant – independent partner. If, in dealing with
matters related to building our relations, the relations
between Europe and Russia, we have to turn to third
countries or to a third country, then it is not
interesting for us to talk with Europe as such.
European politician said that all European countries are
small states, but not everyone has realised it yet.
By the way, I disagree with that, because there are
great powers in Europe. I will not enumerate them now
for fear of failing to mention any. We treat them
accordingly. How Europe should build relations
internally is none of our business.
two positions, and you know this better than I do:
a Europe of sovereignties, a Europe of independent
states with a small common superstructure
or quasi-federative state. Today, the number of binding
decisions on EU member countries, decisions passed
by the European Parliament, is more than the number
of decisions passed by the USSR Supreme Soviet that were
mandatory for the Soviet republics. This is a fairly
high degree of centralisation. Whether or not it
benefits Europe, I do not know, it is for them
to decide, not us.
that there are differences over migration or some other
things, that too is up to the Europeans to tackle.
Of course, those European countries that oppose
the current migration policy are concerned over
the degree of their participation in decision making.
They do not like it when someone at the top imposes
solutions they consider unacceptable for themselves. It
is not with us that such countries as Poland or Hungary
should discuss those issues, and they are not doing that
of course, they are discussing them with Brussels, with
matter how relations inside Europe take shape, we are
interested in developing relations with Europe and we
will strive to do that. Naturally, we would like Europe
to speak in one voice so that it could be a partner that
one could talk to – that is what really matters to us.
But if that is not the case, we will look
for opportunities to talk at the national level
of individual states, with each of our partners
in Europe. Although that is what actually happens now:
we solve some issues with the European Commission
and others at the national level with individual
European countries. On the whole, it suits us.
The internal structure of Europe is not our problem.
Good afternoon. Ilona Linart, Interstate Television
and Radio Company Mir. Thank you very much for your
is a channel of all CIS countries, the Eurasian Economic
Union is a very relevant issue for us. And here we find
a paradox: while being beneficial for some
of the participating countries, it is not beneficial
For example, Armenia has managed to increase its
agricultural exports. In Kyrgyzstan, the situation is
the opposite, where the majority of farmers have gone
bankrupt. How would you comment on this phenomenon?
more additional question for you, back to Russia this
time. You probably remember the Khabarovsk animal snuff
scandal that occurred in autumn and shocked the whole
country. In Russia, we have a human rights ombudsman,
an ombudsman for children's rights, and an ombudsman
for entrepreneurs’ rights. Perhaps we should start
thinking about creating the post of a commissioner
for animal rights and draft the legal framework? Thank
About animal rights – it sounds nice indeed, but dog
owners, any pet owners – they do have rights.
As for humanitarian issues such as the humane treatment
of animals, these fall into a different regulatory
domain, although it should certainly be improved.
there have been suggestions about toughening some
of the legislation and the general regulatory framework.
I would support them, given that everything is within
reasonable limits, but regulation is certainly
the first part of your question. In my opinion, what we
are doing in terms of integration across these states
should benefit all the EAEU member countries. With
Kyrgyzstan, that country has certain difficulties
primarily stemming from its relations with Kazakhstan
and Russia in the field of phytosanitary standards, that
is the problem. But in general, the sales of Kyrgyz
goods in Russia have increased. The same is happening
with Belarusian products in Russia, where retail volumes
have increased greatly; I will not cite specific
industries now, but I have seen dramatic growth, by very
large percentages. Therefore, it is an extremely
important, necessary and useful process for all
the countries participating in this alliance.
In agriculture, indeed, there is a problem with adhering
to phytosanitary requirements. There are yet unresolved
issues on how this work is organised in Kyrgyzstan.
For our part, we are assisting our friends in Kyrgyzstan
in creating a modern system of phytosanitary
expect our Kazakh partners and friends to provide some
help and support to Kyrgyzstan, including financial,
administrative and professional support, so that
Kyrgyzstan would set up a similar health surveillance
system, while we would avoid importing untested
or dangerous products. There is a debate going on, but
there are solutions to the problem, and moreover, this
can be done fairly quickly.
Perhaps we could take a question from TV channel RT,
which the West accuses of every mortal sin? Russia
Thank you very much.
afternoon, Mr President.
like to ask about democracy in the context of the recent
election in the United States. American politicians,
perhaps more than any others, love to talk about
democracy. They say democracy is what makes the American
people exceptional. Sometimes they say that some
countries lack democracy, and they then have to share
their democracy with these countries. But after this
election, these same people who proudly bore the banner
of ‘American democracy’, suddenly started saying that
they have been betrayed after the result of a democratic
election in their own country.
happening? What has gone wrong with democracy?
In general, is democracy a good thing?
permit, I have one more brief question on an issue
of concern to me personally on the human level. As you
know, Oksana Sevastidi was recently sentenced to 7 years
in prison for state treason. Don’t you think this too
harsh a punishment for the SMS this woman wrote when she
saw a train carrying military equipment heading
Regarding the court decision, it is hard for me
to comment because the courts are an independent branch
of power here in Russia, as in all other civilised
countries. But I think this really is a rather harsh
approach. To be honest, I do not know the details. If
she wrote something in her SMS messages, if she just
wrote what she saw and everyone else could see it too,
then we are hardly talking of any real secret here.
honest, I am not familiar with this whole case, but
I will try to take a look at it and examine the claims
the court ultimately supported against her.
As for the subject of democracy, yes, there are
problems. This is something we have long been saying,
but our American partners always dismissed it.
The problem lies above all in the United States’ archaic
electoral system. The two-stage election (not through
direct secret ballot) of first the electors and then
the electors electing the president. And then it is
organised in such a way that some of the states retain
have to ask the American lawmakers why the system is
as it is. Perhaps it was done deliberately so as to let
people in particular states keep hold of their
privileges. This is the American people’s own affair,
however, and not our business.
But it is
very clear that the party which calls itself Democratic
and will remain in power until January 20, I think, has
forgotten the original meaning of its name. This is
particularly so if you look at the absolutely shameless
way they used administrative resources in their favour,
and the calls to not accept the voters’ decision
and appeals to the electors. As I already said, this is
not a good thing. But I hope that once the electoral
passions have died down, America, which is a great
country, will draw the needed conclusions and keep them
in mind for future elections.
let's switch to chess. What’s going on with chess? We
should clear the air a bit.
Thank you for an opportunity to ask a question. My name
is Denis Polyakov. I am from the Perm Region, city
of Kungur, Iskra newspaper.
In November, all Russians cheered Sergei Karyakin who
made a good showing in the match for the world chess
championship with Norway’s Magnus Carlsen, the current
world champion. In one of his interviews after
the match, Karyakin expressed the hope that there will
be the same kind of attention and support for chess not
only at major sporting events but day to day, that chess
for children and young people will be supported
and the White Rook tournament will get a boost.
like to ask the following question. There is basically
no support for chess in our Kama Region, or Kungur
for that matter. We have a very good chess coach
Alexander Letov but when he offers to run chess clubs
in schools, he is told there are other extracurricular
priorities: fine arts, dancing and the like.
And probably there are coaches like Letov in other
my question is: Mr President, how will we promote chess
in the foreseeable future? Will chess
as an extracurricular activity be given the green light?
Thank you very much.
To begin with, I do not think I have the right
to interfere in the decisions of municipal and even
regional authorities on what should be added or removed
from the school programme. This is a very sensitive
issue: do they need chess or not during school hours
or even after school? Such issues should be resolved
at the local level and they often fall within
the competence of schools themselves, not
we should take pride in the Russian school of chess. We
know all about Russia’s outstanding chess players, such
as Alekhine and our current outstanding players. We are
proud of our chess players and our chess school. You
know, we have established a special chess section
at the Sirius centre for gifted children in Sochi, where
chess classes are organised at the proper level.
Naturally, this is not enough. We must promote chess
throughout the country. I am hoping that the local
government in Perm will also pay attention to chess
and will support the coach you mentioned and all chess
As for Karyakin, he really did a great job, excellent.
Magnus is a very good, outstanding chess grandmaster.
Our player honourably represented Russia, our chess
school. He is a fighter and I am sure victories await
him in the future.
the Kaliningrad TV company, a branch of the VGTRK.
I am also
a member of the public council for the construction
of the bridge in Crimea. I would like to take up a point
made by my colleague who asked the question and called
it the Kerch Bridge. The fact is that we do not have
an official name yet. It is called Crimea Bridge. We
have the Crimea Bridge information centre. It is also
called the Kerch Bridge, the Russian Bridge
and the Crimea Is Ours Bridge. There are a lot of names.
So here is my first question: Which of these names do
you prefer and what name would you propose?
important point. The bridge will be built
in the foreseeable future, rather quickly. What will
the next super-project be? Maybe something
Regarding the name of the bridge, as I said, whatever
people call it, that will be the name. A poll,
a referendum may even be held. What is important is that
there is a bridge. As to what it is called, this is
important but still only a secondary matter. If some
name has caught on – say, the Kerch Bridge – let it be
has its own priorities to deal with. One is the issue
of energy independence, energy self-sufficiency. It is
a very important matter, related to building our
relations with, among others, the European Union.
The European Union has taken a decision that the Baltic
countries should be part of their integrated energy
system. This creates problems for energy supplies
to Kaliningrad and requires additional financial
resources from us in order to build a new energy ring
and include Kaliningrad into that ring.
I do not understand why this is being done, considering
that there are no problems with energy supplies
to the Baltic countries. Everything is working,
and working well. Our European partners keep telling us
that we need to forge closer ties and search for areas
where we could draw closer together, but here,
on the contrary, without any apparent reason, they are
disrupting relations – in this case, in the highly
sensitive and important energy sphere.
Nevertheless, we will resolve the problem of stable
and independent energy supply to Kaliningrad. As you
know, there are plans to deliver liquefied natural gas
and build corresponding power stations. The use
of Russian-built small nuclear power plants is not ruled
out. This is a key issue with regard to Kaliningrad’s
development and the creation of a power base
for economic growth.
issue concerns road construction and infrastructure more
broadly. There are many problems there to be addressed.
named two of them, and there are more. The most
important thing we should guarantee is full use
of the potential of Kaliningrad, which is the closest
of our cities to our European partners, lest it fall out
of the general economic context concerning the city’s
economic preferences – I mean its recent free zone
status, now replaced with support from the federal
budget. All this should be synchronised so that
Kaliningrad develops on a natural basis without
undermining industrial production and the tackling
of social issues.
matter, concerning Crimea. Energy supply is one of its
problems. I would like to inform you that
Chernomorneftegaz has finished work to link the Crimean
gas pipeline network with the Russian Federation’s gas
mainlines. In two or three days, we will announce that
the job is complete and Russian gas supplies to Crimea
that even now, with peak loads, especially in winter,
Crimea consumes 1,200–1,300 megawatts, of which 800
megawatts were formerly supplied by Ukraine. Presently,
Crimea produces approximately 1,000–1,100 megawatts.
Together with mobile power plants we have supplied,
total output is slightly below 1,300 megawatts. After
gas comes – and, I repeat, it will come within the next
two or three days, huge amounts of Russian gas –
the construction of two power plants will begin
in Crimea, each 470 megawatts. This means that total
production will approach 2,000 megawatts – 1,900–1,950,
to be precise. If peak consumption is 1,100–1,200
megawatts, we see that approximately 800 megawatts will
constitute a reserve for Crimea’s economic development.
It is a considerable amount for the development
of the economy, industry, agriculture, recreation
and tourism, that is, hotel construction, upgrading
infrastructure, and so on. This is a significant event
for Crimea. I hope we will make its people happy quite
Caucasus Today, go ahead, please.
Good afternoon, Mr President. Armine Ayrapetyan from
Caucasus Today, Pyatigorsk, North-Caucasus Federal
the global community is fighting terrorism,
and particularly the international terrorist
organisation whose members call themselves the “Islamic
State.” Sadly, many in Russia use this name, primarily
in mass media; but we all are aware that terrorism has
nothing to do with Islam or with statehood. Do you think
it would be right and logical to prohibit using the name
“Islamic State,” at least in the mass media?
What media outlet do you represent, again?
Caucasus Today. Can you be prohibited from doing
anything? I think this is a blind alley. Although
I think the words “Islam” and “terror” really should not
be used together unreasonably. You’re right about this.
Here’s Yamal – let’s not neglect our northerners.
Gorokhova, Sever-Press, Salekhard, Yamal.
President, you have repeatedly visited Yamal
and launched many projects there. Let’s be honest: Yamal
is going to be a major driver of Russia’s economy
for a long time to come. We have many projects, but our
region is desperately lacking roads. There is a project
that has long since been prepared for constructing
the Northern Latitudinal Railway, and an agreement was
signed with Russian Railways. Here’s my question to you
as to the best-informed person: When do we start
question, if I may. Currently, work is underway
to withdraw taxes paid by donor regions in favour
of less prosperous territories. Of course, help is
a good thing, we all understand this, and dependency is
bad. In your opinion, should this support be provided
on a permanent basis, or just temporarily?
You have just mentioned the necessity to implement
the Northern Latitudinal Railway project. Do you think
you can do it on your own? No, you can’t. This means you
need help as well, right? That is why the practice
of “levelling incomes of different regions,” implemented
by the Finance Ministry, is the right one. And if any
of the regions receives surplus profit thanks
to the natural resources available in this region, we
should remember that these are national resources. All
citizens of Russia, regardless of the region they reside
in, must have equal rights, and this can be done only
through adequate revenues in the regional budgets.
Currently, the redistribution of incomes is necessary
to boost development.
right in saying that this shouldn’t lead to dependency.
We should encourage the regions to expand their own
sources of profit. I won’t go into much detail, there’s
a lot to be said on that score. But this has to be
done – and again, we are making efforts and will
continue working on this.
the project that you have mentioned and the question
that you have asked – when this will be implemented:
this will be implemented as soon as it is recognised
that this is economically expedient, when it becomes
clear that this project will generate profit.
On the whole, we are very close to implementing it. This
is a good and much-needed project for our country's
economy as it will diversify our transport system, ease
the load on the Trans-Siberian Railway and make it
possible to load at a Yamal port which is currently
under construction, the Sabetta port. Many opportunities
are opening up.
is, on the whole, already functioning. One
of the largest enterprises will be established there
now. The project is effectively developing. I mean Yamal
LNG. It is probably one of the largest such projects
in the world today. It is amazing how NOVATEK with its
European and Chinese partners, and there are still more
partners, including the Japanese, has managed, under
such conditions and within such a short time, to push
forward the implementation of such a large-scale plan.
I am happy for them and hope that they will complete
everything, despite all problems that some are trying
to cause them. Why? It is hard to understand. I hope
that common sense will prevail and those problems will
disappear. Yet, it is already clear to me now that
the project will be implemented.
industrial projects take shape, the need
for infrastructure support will increase. I am convinced
that we will get down to that too. And frankly,
the sooner, the better.
Let us hear
from the Middle East. This young man is so finely
dressed it is impossible to pass him over.
Good afternoon, esteemed Mr President. I am Khashavi
Mukhammad from TV channel Kurdistan 24.
the following question. As you know, the Kurds have
played a big part in fighting international terrorism,
and Russia today plays a major and important role
in the world, particularly in the Middle East. What is
Russia’s position regarding the fact that the Kurds
of Iraqi Kurdistan have already set out on the road
Russia has always had good special relations with
the Kurdish people. The Kurdish people have their very
own complicated history. We see what is happening now
in the Middle East. I can note and confirm that Kurdish
combat units are fighting very courageously
and effectively against international terrorism.
As for the question of sovereignty and independence
of part of whichever country, our position is that we
will act within the framework of international law and,
ultimately, the Kurdish people will see their rights
guaranteed, but the form this takes and how it will be
done will depend on Iraq and on the Kurdish people
been and remain in contact with both Baghdad and Erbil,
but we have no intention of intervening in internal
Good afternoon. I am Tatyana Melikyan, from Lenta.ru.
very much for this opportunity.
already heard the word ‘patriotism’ today. This word has
been used very frequently this year and is beginning
to lose its meaning. I would like to know: do you think
the authorities are going a bit too far in supporting
patriotic movements? I say this because in autumn, we
had all this public debate over the forced closure
of a photo exhibition in Moscow and the forced decision
not to stage the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar
in Omsk. It is dangerous when concepts start to erode so
that hooliganism can be called a patriotic act
or struggle for spirituality. I would like to know your
view: is it wise to divide hooligans into ‘ours’,
because they are patriots, and ‘not ours’?
thing, Mr President. We heard about the teenagers
arrested for torturing animals in Khabarovsk, but this
is just one small episode in a huge and terrifying
picture that is unfolding in our country. You spoke
about animal owners’ rights, but there are animals that
do not have owners and it is they that suffer from this
sadism and cruelty. Perhaps something could be done next
year to bring order to this area and look at how
to remove these animals from the city environment
and how to organise shelters for them? This is the main
issue after all.
a big request: toughen the penalties for cruelty
to animals, because this is the only way to stop this.
This is what I finished with. When I spoke about
the rights of pet owners, I said that, in general, we
should proceed from the principle of humanism with
regard to animals, including stray ones. Of course, we
must address this in a civilised manner, because we are
aware of attacks by stray dogs, including on children.
The local authorities cannot pretend that this doesn’t
concern them. However, these issues need to be addressed
in a civilised manner. There are many of them, I will
not talk about this now, but they do exist.
to patriotism and whether the government will support
it, of course it will. We do not have, nor can there be,
any other underlying principle.
there be a distinction between our hooligans and theirs?
No. Hooligans are hooligans. It’s important
to distinguish between common sense, and the scum that
forms on the crest of this wave. However, we shouldn’t
feed on some information phobias either. This
exhibition, if no one proceeded to destroy it, was
unlikely to draw anyone’s attention whatsoever.
On the other hand, the person behind this exhibition –
perhaps some of you are aware of this – was prosecuted
in the United States, but he decided that he can do
things in Russia that are not allowed in the United
States. The fact that the reaction was, to put it
mildly, far from civilised is probably a bad thing.
The authorities should take some decisions here, but
the community, too, must have some internal
self-restraint, which we talked about recently during
a meeting of the Council for Culture in St Petersburg.
cultural figures have also asked me about banning
the musical, Jesus Christ Superstar. One
shouldn’t feed on phobias or false information. This
show didn’t make it to the stage in Omsk, correct?
However, one year before that, it was a success in Omsk,
with many people coming to see it. Now, when they
started selling tickets – they’ve been selling them
for two months and sold only 46 tickets – the organisers
decided of their own accord not to run this show. That's
all there is to it. No one prohibited anything.
it is impossible to prohibit anything in the modern
world. We are not going to follow this path. Indeed,
this is a very delicate area, and we do need to maintain
a constant dialogue with the public. I fully agree with
Olga Pautova, Channel One.
President, there are only three children's hospices
in our country. Moscow’s first hospice has been under
construction for several years. Once it is completed,
terminally ill children will no longer have to stay
in intensive care, fighting the disease alone; they will
not suffer from the pain at home; they will stay
at a place where their pain will be relieved, where
their mothers will always be with them, where they can
play, go outside, where they will be able to live, not
just spend the rest of their days. But the construction
is progressing too slowly. We often show it on our
channel. The project is financed entirely with charity
money. This is not enough, and they frequently run out
of funds. But families with children who need palliative
care do not have time to wait. Maybe it is time
for the Government to intervene and help complete
the construction? This is about children after all.
Maybe. But, as you said, the project was initiated
by philanthropists. This is a very sensitive
and delicate issue, you know. We always support these
initiatives. Recently I presented a state award
to a priest who has devoted his life to charity and is
very active in it. And the Government is working on it
too. But if benefactors start something, they should
know how it ends. This is very important, in any area.
If you commit to something, “if you pledge, don't
hedge.” We do say that in Russia, right? And then do not
look back and turn to those who are not directly
associated with a particular project.
By and large, of course, we need to pay more attention
to this. I very much hope that, after we talk to you
and your colleagues, after you, I mean Channel One, run
the story, the city authorities will hear you, just like
in other Russian regions.
I can see a poster saying, “Stop Juvenile Justice.” What
does this mean? Please.
Good afternoon. I represent the Ivan Chai news agency.
Mr President, on February 9, 2013 you attended a meeting
of parents in the Hall of Columns. You said there that
juvenile justice of the Western type would not be
introduced in Russia without a broad public discussion.
I can tell you – I know this because I also head a human
rights centre – that we have a system of juvenile
justice that is almost as tough as in Scandinavia.
An amendment was adopted in July after you had requested
that Article 116 be decriminalised. However, this was
done in a very strange manner, by introducing a formula,
“close relatives,” which is a form of discrimination
from the viewpoint of the Constitution. There is now
a new provision with regard to bodily blows made
by “close relatives.” Today, if a father slaps his child
for misbehaving, which is a traditional form
of punishment in Russia, he can get a two-year sentence,
but if a neighbour does the same, he will be fined.
attended our meeting back then, we collected 180,000
signatures against the system of juvenile justice.
As of now, we have collected 213,000 signatures
for stopping juvenile practices in Russia under which
children are taken from parents in poor families
and the law can intervene in family life without good
reason. And all these people ask you to meet with
parents again. These parents are now standing behind me
and asking you for a meeting.
Well, I think we should not slap children and justify it
based on some old traditions. Neither parents, nor
neighbours should do this, although this sometimes
happens. There is a short distance from slaps
to beating. Children fully depend on adults; they are
the most dependent members of society. There are many
other ways to bring children up without slapping.
On the other hand, we should be reasonable too, because
actions such as you describe destroy families. Like you,
I am against such distorted forms of juvenile justice.
Frankly speaking, I believed that my instruction had
been fulfilled. The State Duma Speaker has updated me
on this only recently, and he said that the related
amendments had been approved. Let us discuss this issue
once again. I promise to look at this matter
and to analyse the situation. Unceremonious interference
in family matters is unacceptable. As for what happens
in the family, let us talk about this later.
A question from Alexander Gamov, Komsomolskaya Pravda.
Komsomolskaya Pravda radio station, kp.ru website,
and the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper.
a somewhat pointed question, and so I hope your answer
will be frank, as always. Mr President, you appoint
people from your closest circle as regional governors.
I made a point of meeting some of them. Komsomolskaya
Pravda ran interviews with Lieutenant-General Alexei
Dyumin, Hero of Russia, and Dmitry Mironov, acting
[governor]. Alexei Dyumin is now Tula Region governor,
and Dmitry Mironov is Acting Governor of the Yaroslavl
the impression that you are carrying on a tradition you
established about eight years ago, I think, when you
appointed a stranger as the head of Ingushetia. It was
Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, also a Major-General and Hero
of Russia. As far as I know, he has warranted
the President’s confidence. I have also met the youngest
governor, Acting Governor of the Kaliningrad Region
Anton Alikhanov. He is 30 years old. And I wonder: do
you make such appointments on purpose? Will this
presidential tactic and practice survive in future
gubernatorial appointments? And why did it appear? Are
you wary of the local gubernatorial staff, in connection
with the notorious arrests?
not least – my colleagues won’t let me tell a lie –
media outlets, including my Komsomolskaya Pravda, are
discussing whether Mr Putin is training Dyumin
and Mironov. Is that so? What are you training them for,
Mr President? For some distant goals? And what are your
My goal is the wellbeing of Russia. How can we reach
this? We should tackle the economy and the social
sphere, and provide the defence potential and security.
Proper people are needed to do that.
constituent entities are there in the Russian
Federation? Eighty five. And how many people did you
mention now? Three. Were they, or are they, all that
prominent within the entire gubernatorial body? I mean
the people elected at the President’s bidding in certain
Federation entities. Let’s see what is going on there.
Here is the answer to the question of whether we trust
the so-called local personnel. We do trust them,
of course. An overwhelming majority of the Russian
Federation regions are governed by people from those
regions, an absolute majority. But there are occasions
when the elite needs new blood. That is evident. To that
matter, the regions’ population demand a certain
replacement of the regional elites.
mentioned two or three names, but even the latest
changes concerned more people. What about Gaplikov,
appointed to Komi? And what about the Kirov Region
appointment? They are all young enough, and efficient.
And what about the new head of Sevastopol? They are all
energetic, young and, to my mind, promising leaders, who
have shown good results. So selections are made
according to personal and career qualities, which give
grounds to expect that these people will cope with their
duties. I very much count on this.
As for their prospects, it depends on them
and on the public’s opinion of their work. Mr Dyumin had
worked for six months, I think, in the Tula Region
before 85 percent voted for him. That was a good
achievement, but it is not enough. Now he should prove
his worth in practical work. The same concerns my other
colleagues, starting with Sevastopol, the Kirov Region
recently with a legendary person, [the first woman
cosmonaut Valentina] Tereshkova. She said: “How
wonderful it was! Thank you very much for finding such
a man for our Yaroslavl.” Such are the first indications
of the right man for the problems he will address. Thank
God! I wish them every success in their work,
for the good of the people of these regions.
I will ask my question in German.
very much for the chance to put a question. How do you
see 2017 in terms of relations with the West, looking
at the possibility of a new start in Russia’s relations
with the USA? Now, following the terrorist attack
in Berlin, do you think it is perhaps worth looking
at improving relations?
a second question. Yevgeny Dzhugashvili, Stalin’s
grandson, who was fighting for Stalin’s rehabilitation,
died yesterday. In an interview, film director Kirill
Serebrennikov said that he fears Stalin’s
rehabilitation. What is your view on this issue? Is it
possible for Josef Stalin’s descendants to somehow get
Regarding developing relations between Russia
and Europe, I already answered your Polish colleague
on this subject. It was not we who initiated
the worsening in relations with Europe, including with
Germany. We did not impose any sanctions on European
countries, including Germany, none at all. All we did
was to take measures in response to the restrictions
imposed on our economy. We would be happy to lift these
measures if our partners, including in Europe, lift
the anti-Russian sanctions, even though our farmers are
asking us not to do this.
happened after all? Let’s take an objective look
at the events that brought us to such a situation. Our
American and European friends initially acted
as guarantors for the agreement reached between
President Yanukovych and the opposition, but the next
day, the agreements were broken and power was seized.
Instead of condemning an anti-constitutional coup
and calling for execution of the agreement to which
the foreign ministers of three European countries –
France, Germany and Poland – had put their signatures,
they supported this anti-constitutional coup.
resulted in the people living in Crimea wanting
to reunite with Russia, Ukraine losing Crimea,
and the sad, tragic and bloody events in Donbass.
was at the start of all of these developments? It’s
amazing to think, but at the start of this whole tragedy
was the failure to reach agreements on Ukraine’s
accession to, of all things, an association agreement
with the European Union. How could issues of a purely
economic nature end up taking on such a new dimension
and lead to such tragedies?
the ones who initiated this chain of events? No,
of course not. We spent years asking to have this
agreement’s main parameters settled with us. Mr
Yanukovych said too in the end that, “I want to join
this agreement, but I need to reflect on the accession
terms and settle them within our own government
and consult with Russia, because we have very close
economic ties with Russia and we need the Russian
market. We have a high level of cooperation.” But our
European partners said no. How can one act that way? We
therefore do not consider ourselves to blame for what
happened. We did not start this chain of events.
By the way,
what happened then and what is happening now? After
the coup was staged under the guise of joining
the Association Agreement, the association was
postponed. Immediately. So, they did exactly what
Yanukovych proposed to do. They dragged it out
for a year or even more, then wrote that they made
a decision on ratification and postponed the association
once again. And what is going on now? A referendum was
held in the Netherlands, and Europe does not want
to implement it any more. I really don’t even know what
to make of this.
Now we are
talking about visa-free travel for Ukrainian citizens.
But it is on hold, and if it proceeds, it will be
implemented in the truncated form and, obviously, will
put labour migrants coming from Ukraine to Europe
in a completely embarrassing position. Wouldn't it be
better if they could work together, calmly and without
any fuss, and reach an agreement on how to collaborate?
of relations do we seek to build with Europe? We aim
to resolve common problems, one of which is certainly
the fight against terrorism.
our condolences to the families of those killed
in Berlin and wish a speedy recovery to all those
injured. But I have repeatedly said, including
in my speech at the UN 70th anniversary
session, that this problem can be settled effectively
only though joint efforts. But how can we join our
efforts with anti-Russian sanctions and reciprocal
measures imposed and all forms of cooperation scaled
down? What can be done if, for instance, our British
colleagues have completely curtailed relations with
Russia’s Federal Security Service? So, can we talk about
efficient work on the anti-terrorist track? Absolutely
not. So, as a result, we take hits, heavy and painful.
hope that our cooperation will be restored.
Mr President, may
we give the floor to Andrei Kolesnikov from Kommersant?
He would also like to ask a question.
Yes. He is also from the pool.
Andrei Kolesnikov, Kommersant.
President, how would you respond to this question: why
should you necessarily become the President of Russia
again in 2018? And what would be your response to this
question: why should you not, under any circumstances,
become the President of Russia?
He is some kind of provocateur.
He does this all the time.
an exercise in futility. My response will be standard.
When the time comes I will see what is going
on in Russia and in the world. Based on what we have
done, what we can do and how we can do it, a decision
will be made regarding my participation
or nonparticipation in the presidential election
in the Russian Federation.
President, you must be aware of the controversial
situation around the Yeltsin Centre in Yekaterinburg.
What is your position on the discussion that was started
by the well-known film director Nikita Mikhalkov? May
I remind you that he criticised the Yeltsin Centre
for the exoneration of Vlasovites and the distortion
of history. Do you agree that this must not be
permitted? And what would you say to the people who are
indignant about the fact that all of this is being paid
for with money from the state budget?
You know, I have met with Mr Mikhalkov, Valentin
Yumashev and Tatyana Dyachenko, and we discussed
the issue. Perhaps there are matters that require, let
us say, careful consideration. They are related
primarily to the way information about the history
of Russia is presented; not only its recent history,
from the beginning of perestroika to the present, but
history as a whole, in the broad sense of the word.
My colleagues agreed with me that there is probably
a need to put certain things into focus.
in general, do you know what I object to? I am against
endlessly blowing up these issues. There is nothing
wrong with the fact that this discussion is unfolding.
This is perfectly normal. Some people take a positive
view, some take a more liberal position on the ongoing
events and prospects for development, while others are
more conservative, more traditionalist. We have always
had our national loyalists and Westernists. Some people
consider themselves to be national loyalists. However,
as we recall the events of 1917, as we are to observe
the centennial of the revolutionary events next year,
in 2017, we should move toward reconciliation,
rapprochement, not toward division, not toward inflaming
passions. This is what I would say in response to your
Maxim Rumyantsev, Free Journalism Centre, Yekaterinburg.
I will follow up on the subject of environmental
building strategic facilities under a federal targeted
programme. Today ISIS-like environmental cells are
operating in Russia but they are staging industrial
terror against the background of the fight against
the issue of ecology. These people have nothing to do
with environmental protection, and some groups have been
identified as foreign agents.
like to know how you filter the appeals that are
continuously being sent to the Presidential Executive
industrial blackmail is interfering both with Rosatom
and other industrial enterprises. In our Ural Federal
District this system of manipulation has replaced public
and political opinion: I am referring to the Tominsky
ore mining and dressing plant. In other words, foreign
agents and these NGOs, including environmentalists, have
been sent to an advanced enterprise that is to be built
in Chelyabinsk Region.
And my last
point: I would simply like to make a request on behalf
of the residents of the village of Serebryanka that was
completely isolated from the rest of the world last
year. I saw elderly people buying groceries on credit.
Their money is in Tagil, which is 70 km away from their
village, and they have no way of getting there.
The authorities promised to build a road in 2018, but
how are they supposed to live until this happens,
especially in the muddy season in autumn or spring?
As for your last remark, I will certainly draw
the Governor’s attention to this and I hope he will
respond, in cooperation with the local authorities.
to say, this is absolutely inadmissible. Regrettably,
such things happen in the country and they are not so
rare. It is a great pity that the local authorities,
including regional leaders, are neglecting such
problems. People should not feel isolated from the life
of the country, no matter where they live, and must
certainly have access at least to the elementary
blessings of civilization.
environmental groups, and how we separate those who are
sincerely striving to preserve our nature from those who
want to make money on it.
this is not even about foreign agents, although
environmental groups are sometimes used by our
competitors to slow down a growing segment or a Russian
infrastructure project, as in your case, and so on.
very well how foreign governments “charged” some
environmental groups during the construction of some
marine or port infrastructure facilities. We knew
for certain how much money was spent on disrupting
various projects that are now in operation, thank God.
However, this does not mean that we should neglect
environmental issues. This applies to Rosatom, possibly
Rosatom is one of the world’s leading companies, and its
modern, post-Fukushima technology is recognised
by the IAEA and international experts as the safest
in the world. This is an absolutely obvious fact. We
have taken into account all disasters in the Soviet
Union and the rest of the world in this area. We have
developed truly safe technologies, but nobody is immune
to the abuse of environmental issues.
very well a conversation with one of my foreign friends.
An old buddy of his, who worked in an international
environmental group, told him: “Pay us 30 million
dollars or euros. You’d better give it of your own free
will, and everything will be okay. You’re better off
agreeing.” They held a meeting of the board of directors
and decided to pay and paid. We know such things happen,
and bear it in mind. How do you respond to this?
Certainly, not by brushing it aside. Regrettably, this
cannot be ignored. There is only one response:
a comprehensive professional study of the matter
in terms of its economic feasibility and environmental
Mr Putin, I realise that I looked a little ridiculous,
but in addition to a question, I have a request that is
a matter of life and death for some people. I hope this
will excuse me.
My name is
Ekaterina Vinokurova, Znak.com.
begin with a question. Mr Putin, I always watch your
speeches, and I listened carefully to the Address
as well. You say good things that are impossible
to disagree with. However, the next day everything
starts going in exactly the opposite direction.
Everything? That's impossible. To say that everything
goes either right or wrong is a very radical approach.
I will provide examples.
For example, our good comrades nodded their heads when
you said in your Address that responding aggressively is
inadmissible and the wrongdoers must be punished. Here
in St Petersburg, a colleague of mine, a photographer
from Kommersant, David Frenkel, was beaten up
by someone from NOD.
NOD: the National Liberation Movement led by Evgeny
Fyodorov, which acts under openly aggressive slogans
calling for cleansing the government, and so on.
for example, the Sorok Sorokov movement, who claim to be
Orthodox Christians, but, in fact, preach views that
make other people turn away from the Orthodox Church.
They were very aggressive in defending the construction
of a church that was opposed by the locals, also
believers, by the way. They insulted the people
to the point where the locals began to respond, and then
they wrote a complaint about offence of the feelings
of believers. All of that despite your repeated
statements about the consolidation of our society
and that the ties that bind our society have to do with
reconciliation rather than aggression.
for example, you mentioned in the Address that we are
sensitive to injustice, lies and self-serving interests.
For instance, we see that the great Igor Sechin …
Vedomosti found out that he is about to build
a house in Barvikha, and Igor Sechin, instead
of building a more modest house, because he is
an employee of a state-owned corporation in a poor
country, sues Vedomosti and demands that
the entire circulation be destroyed.
example (I am nearly finished). During a news conference
several years ago, you said that you were in favour
of electing mayors. Mr Putin, are you aware that mayoral
elections in major cities were canceled 18 months later?
The question is simple: Mr Putin, your elite is openly
challenging you. They nod approvingly to everything you
say, tell you how great and wonderful you are –
and everyone …
Stop, stop right there. (Laughter)
This is a simple and straightforward question, Mr Putin.
Why is it that you say one thing, but in practice we
see, too often, something different? Is this some kind
of creeping coup?
my request. Mr Putin, RBC reporter Alexander Sokolov has
been kept in a pre-trial detention centre for more than
18 months now. The charge that we hear in court is
delusional and makes no sense whatsoever. We do not see
any fairness on behalf of the security officers, judges,
nor do we have any hopes for justice.
another case of a woman named Evgeniya Chudnovets, who
posted on VKontakte [social network] a video showing
a boy being bullied and asked the police to do something
about it. She was put behind bars for that and was
sentenced to real time in prison. Mr Putin, please, we
have to do something about the sadistic skew of our
justice. Please, we must save these people. Thank you
About the prosecution bias in justice in Russia. You
know, we have recently taken a lot of decisions aimed
at humanising our legislation. This applies to criminal
law, to administrative offenses, and additional measures
are being taken now. These are fundamental things that
we are doing consciously, and we will continue this
As for someone expressing extreme views or acting
radically – Russia is a large and complicated country,
you know. Some would radically defend liberal values
and organise provocative exhibitions, and they say
they are doing it deliberately to draw attention
to their actions, to their art. Here, too, there must be
moderation, right? There must be moderation in all
things. The same can be said about the so-called
patriots. I said we would support patriotic movements,
assuming there is no distortion. The balance of things
should be determined within society.
As for the specific persons you mentioned, I have to be
honest, I have never even heard of them. I will look it
up, I promise, I have no idea if their verdicts were
fair or not.
the construction projects implemented by business
representatives, including those from state-owned
companies, the extravagant-looking real estate – I agree
with you, they need to be more modest, you are right.
I told them so many times and I hope they will hear me.
This also concerns their bonuses, their incomes. Even if
the law allows it, they need to understand the country
we live in, and try not to annoy people.
As for the various claims you mentioned, after all, it
is up to the court to decide if it is a fair claim
or not. If an individual goes to court seeking
protection of their business reputation, honour
and dignity, the court shall determine the degree
of guilt or lack thereof. As far as I know about
the case, Sechin claimed several billion or something
like that from RBC. The court agreed that he was right,
but the amount was 360,000, truly insignificant. Nothing
terrible actually happened. But I must say that people
often come to me, I mean, prominent figures in culture
and the arts, people with very different views,
by the way, and complain about journalistic terror
against them – yes, of persecution, seizure, of their
children being terrorised.
like to ask you and your colleagues, please, please be
more discreet, do not interfere in the personal, private
lives of public figures, artists, athletes and other
such people. We all need certain rules developed, and we
need to adhere to these rules on the basis
of a sufficiently high cultural level in our country.
a second; we have CCTV here.
Good afternoon Mr President.
like to develop the subject my colleague from Rossiya-24
started. The global situation is becoming more
complicated. There are refugees and terrorist attacks
in Europe, the Middle East remains unstable, and now
the USA has a new president. In this situation, what new
approaches should major powers such as Russia and China
find to resolve global and regional problems, and how
will this influence our relations? Thank you.
It is common knowledge that Russia and China have very
close relations. We are all familiar with the term
‘strategic partnership’, but the ties that Russia
and China have developed over recent years are more than
a simple strategic partnership. China is our biggest
trade and economic partner as far as individual
countries go. Yes, our trade turnover has fallen
a little due to objective circumstances (above all,
the drop in energy prices), but we are diversifying our
relations and I am especially pleased to see that our
trade in the high-tech sectors and in industrial
production has grown significantly of late.
We have big
projects in aircraft manufacturing, and good prospects
in the space sector, and in energy, including nuclear
energy. We have some good undertakings
in infrastructural projects, and I hope they will all go
ahead. We are developing [cooperation] and will continue
to do so, despite the difficulties that exist – I will
not go into the details now – in the transition
to settling our trade and economic accounts in our
national currencies, all the more so now that the yuan
has become one of the International Monetary Fund’s
reserve currencies, an event on which I congratulate our
Chinese colleagues. We have common views on many issues
on the international agenda, and I am certain that this
will be a major stabilising factor in international
affairs. We value our ties with China and hope
to continue developing them.
RBK was mentioned today. Perhaps we should give RBK
the chance to put a question? Please, give them
Mr President, I am Natalia Galimova, RBK.
begin with the question I meant to ask last, but since
my colleague raised the issue of the arrested RBK
journalist… You said it was the first time you had heard
Alexander Sokolov’s name.
What did he do? What was he arrested for?
A year ago, in this hall, you promised to look into his
case. He is accused of extremism, but nothing has
happened since then, and now he is being tried. Perhaps
you were very busy and did not have time, but I do
nonetheless ask you to please look into this case.
I apologise for interrupting, but after the issue was
raised publicly this way, it was probably
the Presidential Executive Office that looked into
the situation, and if the case went to court, it
suggests the circumstances are not all so
straightforward. But I will look into it again.
question. You have just spoken of the responsibility
of the media in the context of lawsuits. On the one
hand, yes, but there is another side to the matter. Igor
Sechin is actively suing the media: Novaya Gazeta,
Vedomosti, RBC, Forbes magazine. The outcome
of the court cases has always been the same. Igor Sechin
wins lawsuits, while courts, with very rare exceptions,
order that the articles that are the objects of his
discontent be removed from websites or, with regard
to Vedomosti, for example, that its entire circulation
be destroyed. Do you believe that such rulings set
a dangerous precedent, legitimising the suppression
of information that may not be to someone’s liking?
Do you have a problem with Sechin, the courts
or the unreliability of your own information? You know,
all of this requires careful consideration. Sechin,
as well as other people who go to court – what are they
supposed to do to defend their honour, dignity
and business reputation? Are they supposed to come
and fight you with a stick or what? They go to court,
just as in any civilised society. How objective these
rulings are, frankly, I do not know. He sued RBC for 3
billion, but the court ordered RBC to pay him 300,000.
This 300,000 is a paltry amount for RBC. I do not think
that it will seriously affect the holding’s financial
and economic operation. However, to look at this from
a somewhat unexpected angle, generally it is good that
the press keeps bureaucrats and representatives of big
business, including companies with state participation,
on their toes. However, this should be done only within
the bounds of the law.
But what about
the decision to destroy publications?
Frankly, I cannot pass judgment. If this decision is
based on law, is within the bounds of law, well, then it
should be carried out.
May I ask
an important question about taxes?
About taxes, please.
In your Address,
you issued instructions to the Government to draft
proposals on adjusting the tax system after 2018. How do
you envision the tax system after 2018? And what will be
your response to decisions or proposals to raise taxes
on businesses or individuals?
You know, in 2014 we resolved not to raise taxes
on businesses. This is precisely what is happening.
Despite the numerous proposals from different agencies
to make an exception, we refrained from increasing
the tax burden on businesses. In addition, we not only
avoided increasing the tax burden, but also introduced
an array of preferential tax regimes, say, for small
and medium-sized businesses.
Now we are
considering the possibility of exempting self-employed
individuals from all payments for a certain period so
that they can become legal, set up their business
and see that it runs smoothly. These are important,
We are also
considering priority development areas and other tax
regimes. We are talking about a special tax procedure
in agriculture, where there are two possibilities
of reducing tax payments – importantly, reducing them
legally. We are talking about reducing deductions
to social funds for high-tech businesses, including
small ones, which, at the end of the day, is key
to growth in the IT sector of the Russian economy. We
have addressed all of that, and I believe to good
in 2018, all of this will come to an end. And today all
together we should develop a plan for our work in this
area for the next four years, calmly and efficiently,
with the involvement of the Government and the expert
and business communities, and, I hope, with
the participation of RBC, since RBC specialises
in analysing what is going on in business (sometimes
I watch your programmes; you have very good experts).
After a discussion and a final decision, we will ensure
a favourable business environment for at least the next
Mr Putin, I saw a poster saying “Irkutsk. Alcohol” next
to the cameras in the back of the auditorium. It is
probably about the recent tragic events.
Good afternoon, Oblastnaya newspaper, Irkutsk Region.
Irkutsk has suddenly and sadly appeared in the top news
story this week. I have two questions for you in this
Irkutsk Region is in the vanguard of the fight against
illegal trafficking in alcohol, or rather, non-drinkable
alcohol-containing liquids. Yesterday, Deputy Prime
Minister Alexander Khloponin put forth an action plan,
which the Government is going to implement in its effort
to combat this scourge. It is comforting to know that
there is overall understanding that this is not only
about Irkutsk Region, but is a major widespread problem,
at least in Siberia and the Russian Far East. There is
a proposal to introduce excise duty on industrial
what it is all about. This is not only about illegal
trade, the lack of excise duties on industrial alcohol
or the absence of technical monitoring. There is also
the enormous problem of alcohol abuse, by the population
in general, because not all of the casualties come from
the lower strata. There are many poor people who cannot
afford store-bought vodka, so they turn to bootleggers
and illegal producers.
regard, I would like to ask you, first, what do you
think about the measures proposed by the Government with
regard to the sale of industrial alcohol
and the prevention of such tragedies in the future? Are
there any planned measures to reduce alcohol consumption
in our country and fight alcoholism as a social scourge?
First of all, I must say that what is happening
in Irkutsk is a terrible tragedy – I have no words
for it – and a terrible mess, because supervisory bodies
and other bodies that were supposed to be on top
of the situation failed to prevent this tragedy.
regard to what really happened there. Several
individuals, some of them citizens of a foreign state,
organised the production of liquids for cleaning
bathtubs and used alcohol in their production, which is
not a poison. However, one of the group decided to make
some extra cash and, the way I see it, not really
knowing what he was doing, got hold (I will not use
a bad word here) of industrial alcohol and used it.
excise duties and other measures proposed
by the Government are a correct, but, unfortunately,
belated response. It had to be done earlier.
As for the claims by the so-called – so-called in this
particular case – small businesses that prices
of perfumery products and all sorts of detergents will
go up, we have to acknowledge that after such tragedies,
such claims are not enough reason for us not to proceed
with excise duty hikes. You may be aware that a few days
ago, I issued additional instructions to the Government,
and we are seeing the reaction now. I hope that all
of this taken together will give us the desired result
and will help preserve the lives and health of our
alcohol abuse. Yes, indeed, it is a problem. However,
oddly enough, it may not be as bad as in some other
countries, particularly, Northern Europe.
need is a package of measures that must be implemented –
and they are being implemented. These measures may not
be prohibitive, although some restrictions may apply.
There is a poster here that says, “Are there booze
joints around the Kremlin?” I am not sure about
the Kremlin, but there must be no such spots near
schools or childcare centres. Such decisions have been
taken, and it is important that they are implemented
continue to pursue intensive and multifaceted efforts
to prevent mass alcohol consumption. This includes
educational, morale building and related efforts
by the media as well – please support us in this
a critical area of our work, and our demographics depend
to a significant extent on it. Generally, this is one
of the key areas of our joint work.
May I ask a question about love?
Love? We need to finish already.
It has been over three and a half hours.
And love will quickly turn to hate if we stay here too
The young woman who raised a poster.
question is no less interesting, of course – they raised
a poster there. (Laughs.)
That is last year's story.
But we will get back to that.
Tamara Gotsiridze, Maestro TV.
and economic relations have resumed recently, but
in general, we have stopped progressing. We all know
the reasons for that, too: territorial issues between us
remain. Do you believe there are prospects for political
dialogue, or will we maintain the current status quo
for a long time?
thing, if possible. You commented on the visa-free entry
to the EU for Ukrainian citizens. The same travel
regulations will apply to Georgia. Would you say that
your comment on Ukraine also applies to Georgia, because
Europe will open visa-free entry for the citizens
of Georgia sooner than Russia? Thank you.
Your phrasing at the end was tricky, you know.
I actually said that visas in Europe are an anachronism.
Whether we are talking about Ukraine or Georgia,
I believe that everyone should travel visa-free.
As for Russia and Georgia, travel restrictions were
introduced for a reason, not for the fun of it, after
the conflict. I would like to note, though it might seem
trivial, that we are not the ones to blame. We did not
start the fighting in South Ossetia. But anyway, we all
need to think about normalising relations, and I do not
rule out returning to a visa-free regime for Georgian
citizens in Russia. It seems to me that there is good
reason for that, as we now see certain signals from
individual authorities in Georgia.
important to establish normal relations between special
services and law enforcement agencies to ensure joint
efforts in the fight against terrorism, so that
visa-free travel does not damage our security
on the antiterrorism track. I think this is quite
us talk about kvass. What is the situation? Last time
or the time before, we already discussed kvass. Let us
continue. No to vodka, yes to kvass.
Thank you very much, Mr Putin. Vladimir Mamatov from
Kirov, that is, Vyatka.
thanks to you for kvass, because it is exported to China
and the United States.
It is an unlimited market.
Nothing would have
happened without your support. Whenever you come to our
plant, I guarantee you will see a crowd there.
is different. The new Governor (Gamov spoke about
the governors who are your people), Igor Vasilyev, wants
to establish a venue for Kirov goods, because if I come
to you with every Vyatka brand, we will have news
conferences for the next 300 years. We have many brands
to take pride in.
You think we will live that long?
I am an optimist, I am always an optimist.
Mr Putin, we have
many things to be proud of there. He wants to establish
a venue for Kirov brands. It takes an hour by plane
to get from Moscow to Kirov, or a night by train, like
from Kirov to St Petersburg.
But what do you want from me?
Just a moment
(Laughter in the hall). I apologise for taking up
want to restore the VDNKh (Exhibition of National
Economic Achievements). Make Kirov Region a pilot venue
with our local producers presenting local goods there.
Then we could modestly ask whether the President can
support this. And whether we can do this on a national
scale? There is the “Made in Russia” office. It
essentially represents a virtual VDNKh on the internet.
Are you referring to the VDNKh in Moscow?
Yes, this is what is happening there now. If you visit
it, you will see that VDNKh is coming back to life
again, thank God. Just recently it only had some shabby
markets that emerged out of nowhere. So, if you have
an idea regarding the presentation of your goods,
I believe this can be resolved. Sergei Sobyanin is sure
to hear us. We are ready to prompt him, so he could
discuss the presentation of your goods with his
of the economic development areas is this work
in the market, in new markets and in restored old ones.
May I refer to your support?
Yes, of course.
Wonderful! When do you expect to visit us?
Thank you very much. I will try.
Thank you so much.
We need to wrap up, otherwise we will never finish. Let
us take a few more questions.
Thank you. I will be brief, without any introductions.
When do you
expect to meet with Donald Trump? What strategic issues
will be on the agenda at the first and the following
meetings? What do you expect? Thank you.
It is difficult to say now. First of all, the newly
elected US President needs the opportunity to put his
team together. Without this, I believe, unprepared
meetings are quite meaningless.
will be on the agenda? Issues that concern putting our
relations back on track. During his election campaign,
Mr Trump said that he considered it appropriate
to normalise Russian-American relations. He also said
that the situation would not be worse, as it cannot get
any worse. I agree with him. So, together we will think
about how to make things better.
an impressive poster: “Give me.” Give you what? What do
My name is Vladimir Gusev, and I represent Bloknot
federal information agency.
President, what do you consider your worst mistake
of this year, and what would you say is your worst
mistake of all of your presidential terms? Thank you.
You know, I have been repeatedly asked similar questions
and even exactly the same question by your colleagues.
person makes mistakes. No person can live or work
without making mistakes. I am not going to repeat what
has already been said many times, but I will try
to learn from all my mistakes and flaws so as to make
fewer mistakes in the future and to work more
efficiently, all together and personally.
Mr President, I am Alexei Khodorych, chief editor
of Klassny Zhurnal.
Address to the Federal Assembly, you talked about
the need to cultivate moral values in young people,
which is impossible without reading. Today's children
spend time watching videos on the Internet and playing
videogames. Meanwhile children's magazines are
the perfect tools for fostering the habit of regular
reading. However, they are disappearing from libraries.
We have talked with librarians, and they say their
funding is shrinking and they cannot subscribe
to the magazines they would like to have.
So my first
question is: could the Government somehow help return
children's magazines to their rightful place
in the libraries?
question was sent to us by a young reader who loves
robots – Alexander Aksenenko, 8, from Moscow. What kind
of robot do you absolutely need in the Kremlin? Thank
You know, robots are good in production, in industry.
When we deal with such sensitive issues, when the fate
of millions of people depends on our decisions, we
absolutely have to be human. It would be difficult
to use a robot, to count on it.
As for libraries in general, especially with children's
books, I fully agree with you. We are trying to revive
libraries in general, but on a new basis, because it is
extremely enjoyable to simply come in and flip through
a book; it is very important to hold a book, to feel it,
even to look at illustrations, to see the text in front
of your eyes. Modern media are obviously replacing
conventional books. But we need to ensure that modern
media offer the desired content, which would be
in demand in educating the younger generation, something
that leaves an imprint on children’s souls and helps
in forming their views and attitude to life. We need
to transform libraries into new multimedia centres
offering both books and the Internet.
as with many other sensitive issues, we need to pay more
attention here. Not only at the federal level, but above
all, it is primarily the regions’ and municipalities’
responsibility. If you need more federal help, we could
think about it too, we only need to decide what kind
of help. Simply transferring the money is not always
the most effective form of support. But it is essential
that we do it.
stand accused – Mr Sechin believes that we dislike him.
In reality, we like him and there is something
to commend him for. However, there are certain things
that we see in the Government’s activity and in his
activity that raise questions. For example, we have big
problems with the budget. It was balanced but to that
end, decisions were taken to slash investment
programmes, certain investment projects and increase
dividends for state-owned companies.
there is an organisation called Rosneftegaz. Gazprom
and Rosneft are major payers of dividends but not all
of their dividends go to the budget. First they go
to Rosneftegaz and then Rosneftegaz sends a certain
portion to the budget. In other words, these funds end
up in Rosneftegaz’s accounts. Rosneftegaz has its own
investment programme but it is fully covered
by Rosneftegaz’s liquidity. It is not clear why it needs
Why is it
that these funds, which are essentially public funds, do
not go to the budget? They could be used for social
programmes. They could be put to a more effective use.
For example, for additional capitalisation
of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, which has shown
its efficiency and which uses this money in the economy.
Why are the funds just sitting there? Maybe they should
You just want to seize everything. You represent
Vedomosti, a liberal economic newspaper, and you just
want to “seize, grab and prohibit.”
is a Rosneftegaz reserve fund. However, it is absolutely
transparent. There is nothing non-transparent there. It
is under the Government’s control. And we use it
to finance certain programmes when the Government
forgets that there are priorities that cannot be
For example, last year, as well as this year, science
and education projects, above all science projects, will
receive additional financing from Rosneftegaz. I am
talking about the so-called mega-grants. These funds
will also be used to address problems related to small
aviation to resume building planes for regional
airlines. These funds will also be used for projects
related to big aviation and the development
of a heavy-duty aircraft engine. We recently built
an engine that had not been manufactured over the past
29 years, since the Soviet days, but we need a new
engine with a greater thrust – 30–35 tonnes, which will
allow us, together with our Chinese friends, to build
a wide-body long-haul airplane.
the kinds of things – things that the Government has no
money for after all the squabbling and fighting but
which need backing all the same – that we will finance
with Rosneftegaz funds.
That is it.
Thank you very much. A happy New Year to you! Thank you
very much for your patience. Good luck!
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