We do not consider America our enemy.
Moreover, twice in history when we were
going through very hard times, we pooled our
efforts; we were allies in two world wars. "
June 15, 2017
Good afternoon, we are live. This is Direct Line
with Vladimir Putin, a joint project by Channel
One and Rossiya 1 TV channels. You can also
watch the broadcast live on Rossiya 24,
and listen to a live radio broadcast on Mayak,
Vesti FM and Radio Rossii radio stations.
The anchors of Direct Line are Tatyana Remezova
and Dmitry Borisov.
First of all, I would like to introduce our
colleagues who will be helping us today. Maria
Gladkikh and Natalya Yuryeva are in the call
centre; and here in the studio we have Vera
Krasova, Nailya Asker-zade, Olga Pautova
and Olga Ushakova.
They are surrounded by people who were
in the spotlight of the last year’s most
dramatic news reports, people who arguably have
shaped today’s Russia in one way or another.
to Tatyana Remezova.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin is here,
in the studio, live.
are in the call centre, which plays a key role
in Direct Line. Our centre has already received
1.1 million calls. You can submit your question
to Vladimir Putin right now. The telephone
number has not changed: 8 (800) 200 4040. You
can also use 04040 for SMS and MMS messages.
In addition to SMS messages and telephone calls,
our operators also accept video questions that
can be submitted either from
the moskva-putinu.ru website or by using
a special mobile application called Moskva
Putinu (Moscow to Putin).
can also submit questions using the programme’s
official accounts on the VKontakte and Odnoklassniki
social networks. For the first time, you can
talk to the head of state by direct video link
via OK Live, as well as the Moskva-Putinu
application. This way, not only will
the President hear you, but he will also be able
to see you.
ahead, make a call. We will be taking questions
until the end of the broadcast. You still have
time. Maybe it will be your question that
Vladimir Putin answers.
Another innovation in this year’s Direct Line is
the SN Wall communications platform that enables
us to monitor, in real time, how the audience is
discussing the programme on social media. More
than 300,000 comments have already been posted
on Facebook, VKontakte, Instagram and Twitter.
Those who need sign interpretation can watch
the broadcast on Public Television of Russia
and on our website.
Good afternoon, Mr President.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin:
Our call centre has been receiving phone calls
for 12 days, and 2 million messages of various
kinds have been received to this point. The top
five of the most sensitive issues for Russians
includes growing prices, declining living
standards, housing and utilities, healthcare
and of course, there are many personal requests.
That said, I would like to highlight a major
difference from previous Direct Lines.
Most of the messages we have received are not
about the present, but about the future: how
will our country live in the years to come, what
will its relations with other countries be like?
This could be due to the fact that we are
in a pre-election year, when people have more
questions to their leaders, to you primarily,
However, before we start talking about
the future, let me begin with the present.
have been hearing many optimistic assessments
of the state of the Russian economy lately. Can
we say, would it be right to assume that
the economic crisis is over?
You have started with a core question, whether
the economic crisis is over. I would very much
like to give an affirmative answer, thereby
sending a positive signal to the people.
However, in the back of your mind you cannot
stop thinking that something could still go
wrong, something could happen.
Nevertheless, when it comes to drawing
conclusions of this kind we should be guided
by objective data. What are the hard facts
telling us? They are telling us that the Russian
economy has overcome the recession, and moved
into a growth trend. I will get back to this
later to explain how this conclusion can be
reached and on what data it is based.
I would like to start by making a different
point and highlighting the most pressing issues
that have yet to be resolved. You mentioned them
in your question, by the way. What are these
issues all about? Real incomes have been
declining over the last several years, and what
is even more alarming is the growing number
of people below the poverty line with incomes
below the minimum living wage.
In this regard, Russia hit a low in the early
and mid-1990s, when almost one third
of the country’s population lived below
the poverty line, almost 40 percent or 35 to 37
percent, according to various estimates, almost
40 million people. This was the all-time low,
while the highest indicators in this respect
were reported in 2012.
In 2012, 10.7 percent of the population was
below the poverty line. Unfortunately, since
then this number has reached 13.5 percent. It
may not seem like a lot, just a few percentage
points, but we are talking about tens,
and hundreds of thousands of people, their
lives, so this is a matter of serious concern.
There are economic issues that have still to be
addressed, above all regarding real incomes.
What are these issues? They have to do with
the structure of the economy that we find
unsatisfactory. In this connection I have
to mention low labour productivity. There will
be no new jobs, and incomes will not increase,
unless we improve labour productivity. This is
a major issue.
will most definitely come back to these matters
and I am 100 percent certain that people will
have further questions and we will go into
greater detail and look further at all that
makes it possible for me to say now that
the recession is over and we have seen economic
growth for three quarters in a row now. GDP
growth is modest, but it has nonetheless held
steady from one quarter to the next.
growth was plus 3 percent at the end
of the fourth quarter of 2016, plus 5 percent
in the first quarter of this year, and up 1.4
percent in April this year. This makes for GDP
growth of 0.7 percent overall for the first four
months of 2017.
Industrial production is also on the rise. We
had growth of 0.7 percent in the first quarter
of this year. I have brought along some
of the latest figures, so as not to forget
anything, and I can share them with you too.
These are the latest statistics.
Investment into capital assets is up 2.3
percent. We see an increase in car sales
and mortgage loans, which all economies consider
a clear sign of growth, and non-resource
and non-energy exports are up by 19 percent.
Finally, another important macroeconomic
indicator is inflation, and we have brought it
down to a record low in modern Russian history.
The figure today is 4.2 percent. This is
an unprecedented result and it gives us reason
to expect that we will reach our target figure
of 4 percent by the end of the year.
The Central Bank’s gold and foreign currency
reserves, our international reserves, are
growing. We started 2016 with $368 billion
and ended the year with $378 billion. Today,
the figure is $407 billion. One of the most
significant indicators that I must mention is
investment into capital assets, which is growing
at a faster pace than the economy as a whole.
The economy grew by 0.7 percent over the first
four months of this year, while investment into
capital assets was up by 2.3 percent. What does
this mean in simple terms? It means that
investment in developing production facilities
is up by 2.3 percent, and this is laying
the foundations for growth in the short term.
This, of course, is a positive development that
will have an impact on various aspects
of the social sector too.
Which aspects? The main social sector
achievement that I want to mention once again is
the substantial drop in infant and maternal
mortality. Infant mortality has undergone
a three-fold decrease since 2000, and maternal
mortality has seen a close to four-fold drop.
Probably no other country’s social sector has
achieved such results. This has contributed
to increased life expectancy as well.
The figures here are now up from just over 70
years to 72 years. Overall, these results give
us reason to say that we have overcome
Mr President, you yourself spoke about people’s
declining real incomes, and the official
statistics confirm this. When will people feel
the benefits of the reviving economy?
You know, the decline was rather steep, and so
it will take some time before people will feel
an improvement. As I said at the beginning,
I consider this to be the most important
and serious problem.
Real wages started increasing in July or August
2016 and increased 0.7 percent by the end
of the year. This increase is rather difficult
to see, although it reached 2.3 or 2.4 percent
in April this year.
As you know, we made lump sum payments of 5,000
rubles to pensioners early this year
and increased pensions for non-working
pensioners by 5.4 percent starting from
February 1 and later brought the overall figure
to 5.8 percent. We have also indexed social
are working with employers to increase
the minimum wage. We increased it by over 20
percent last year and have also raised it this
year. Overall, we are working at this so that
people can feel the improvements.
Still, many people complain about low wages.
Here are many text messages and photos of wage
slips. For example, a preschool teacher
at Kindergarten No. 111 in Astrakhan is paid
7,935 rubles. The slip is for May 2017. Can you
live on this wage?
A medical nurse at the Vostochny Space Launch
Centre received 10,246 rubles in May.
“Should a firefighter risk his life for 8,000
rubles a month?” asks Alexander Melnikov, head
of a fire team from the Saratov Region.
“When will postal workers’ wages be raised? You
cannot live on 3,600 rubles.”
We will have to check the situation with
salaries of 3,600 rubles to understand how this
is possible. After all, there is a minimum wage
in Russia, and it is more than 3,600 rubles.
However, all the people you have mentioned are
public sector employees who did not benefit from
the wage increases under the May 2012 executive
As for public sector employees who did benefit
from these increases, their salaries are going
up as planned, more or less. In other public
sector jobs that were not covered by the May
2012 executive orders, the situation is more
challenging. Their salaries were not adjusted
for inflation, even though prices have gone up,
and the inflation rate was quite high at 12.9
percent in 2015. Still, their wages were not
adjusted for inflation. If you are telling me
that this is not fair, I agree. I have raised
this issue with the Government, and issued
instructions to this effect. These salaries will
be adjusted for inflation starting January 1,
We have received many calls on this subject. Let
us ask the call centre to join our conversation.
Natalya, you have the floor.
Mr President, we have just received a call from
a medical nurse in Primorye who asked how she
could survive on her salary. Socioeconomic
issues are always the most sensitive, and they
worry Russians the most.
I also see a question on another sensitive
issue, the low salaries of teachers
in the regions.
Here with us, via video conference, we now have
Alyona Ostaltsova from Irkutsk.
Alyona, good afternoon, you are on, you can ask
Hello, Mr President.
My name is Alyona Ostaltsova, and I am calling
from the city of Shelekhov, Irkutsk Region.
The question I have is quite common. Why are
teachers paid so little? I am an elementary
school teacher. I have been working for one
year, but my salary has never exceeded 16,500
rubles per month. I have not received
the allowance young teachers are entitled to.
I love my job, and I love working with children,
but with a salary like this, I have no choice.
How can I live on it? Thank you.
Alyona, you are from Irkutsk Region, is that
Shelekhov is probably a small town. I do not
know whether your school is fully staffed. You
and I know, and so do all other teachers across
the country, that there is an objective to bring
teachers’ salaries up to the regional average.
If I am not mistaken, since I may not recall
the exact figures, the average salary in Irkutsk
Region is slightly above 30,000 rubles.
The average salary in Irkutsk Region is above
30,000 rubles. And teachers’ salaries are even
slightly higher in Irkutsk Region.
What happens in reality? The teachers’ money
and the level of wages are managed by the school
itself, and it determines the payroll and extra
payments in addition to the salary. The school
itself does this. Again, the payroll
and additional payments. It is clear that young
specialists, and you are a young specialist,
usually make somewhat less than experienced
teachers with longer service and all. It is
unclear though why it is so much less, 50 or 70
percent – I do not understand this either.
I hope that the region’s administration,
the authorities that supervise education, will
pay attention to this.
This is what I'm thinking: as I said, such
a difference in income is unacceptable.
Therefore, if this is happening, it would
probably be reasonable to establish a minimum
wage or a minimum ratio between the income level
of young specialists and those who have a long
record of service. We probably need to think
Thank you very much.
About 11,000 rubles, it is certainly strange.
I repeat: wages should not differ so
dramatically. We will deal with your specific
Before this broadcast, we talked to people who
sent in their complaints, including complaints
on this issue. Indeed, the situation is very
different in various regions and largely depends
on who is in charge of the region.
Over the past year, many changes have taken
place in the leadership of Russian regions,
something that never happened before: Buryatia,
Kaliningrad, Karelia, Kirov, Mari El, Novgorod,
Perm, Ryazan, Sevastopol, Tver, Tula, Udmurtia,
and Yaroslavl. Why? Are all the newly appointed
governors coping with their duties?
You know, in many places the governors’ tenure
in office simply ended, as many of them had
worked for 10 and even more years. Frankly, it
was their own idea to try working in other
In other regions, we just felt that people want
change, and therefore initiated the process.
As to whether they are competent or not, this is
primarily a question for the local people. Some
of the elected regional leaders had already
served for six months or a year before running
for the position, so when they did, people voted
for them because they knew they could trust them
with managing the region, so we can say that
people – the voters – believe these candidates
were doing a good job. But, of course, any
election, the results of any election are
an upfront trust given to candidates
for leadership at any level at the beginning
of their work at this new high office.
Whether they succeed or not – I will return
to this subject now. They have to succeed, they
have everything to make it despite the fact they
are relatively young. They have extensive state
work and life experience; of course, you can
blame it all on them – but the financial
situation is not easy in the regions.
In this regard, the Federation helps for them,
supports them. To solve these social issues
and level wages, 40 billion rubles have been
allocated in this year’s federal budget. What is
more, I asked the Government to provide
additional finances, and they have allocated
another 10 billion rubles. Therefore, they have
the support; they also have their own social
programmes. They have to work and achieve
We received the following question online: ”Two
weeks ago, Europe extended the anti-Russia
sanctions for another year. Do you think we are
ready to live under these sanctions
In fact, the history of Russia shows that we
have usually lived under sanctions whenever
Russia started to become independent and feel
strong. Whenever our partners in the world saw
Russia as a serious rival, they imposed various
restrictions under various excuses; this has
been the case throughout our history, not just
in Soviet times; this was the case even before
the 1917 revolution. So no surprises here.
now know that the US Senate has drawn up another
draft law on toughening these sanctions. What
are the reasons for this? Nothing extraordinary
is taking place. Why have they started talking
about sanctions again, for no particular reason?
This, of course, testifies to the ongoing
domestic political struggle in the United
States. In any case, this is happening and I can
see no real reason for it. If it had not been
Crimea or some other issue, they would still
have come up with some other way to restrain
Russia. The policy of containing Russia has
always been presented like this.
what is the situation with these sanctions
and what impact, if any, have they had on us?
They have had an impact. Has this been
fundamental in nature? I do not think so. We
have been affected more by the global situation
and the drop in prices for our main traditional
goods – oil, gas, metals, chemicals, and so on.
What view do our partners take?
The US State Department believes that these
sanctions have lowered our GDP by 1 percent,
the Europeans give a slightly higher figure,
and the UN has calculated that we lost around
$50–52 billion, and that the countries that
imposed the sanctions have lost $100 billion.
In other words, sanctions have proven to be
a double-edged sword and harm everyone,
including those who impose them.
Strange though it might sound, however, there
have been advantages too. What are they?
For a start, we were forced to concentrate our
intelligence, talent and resources on key areas
and not simply rely on oil and gas revenue. What
result has this brought? We have seen real
production growth in important and complex
have rebuilt substantially our skills
in the radio-electronics sector, and we made
good progress in aircraft engineering, rocket
building, pharmaceuticals, and in heavy
engineering. That is not to mention agriculture.
We all know that agriculture has posted growth
of around 3 percent and Russia is now a leader
in exports of grain and wheat. That is
the result we have to show.
have reduced substantially imports and developed
our own production of pork and poultry and cover
practically our entire consumption needs. What’s
more, we are now looking for sales markets
are in talks with our Chinese friends on opening
the Chinese market to our pork and poultry
producers. So, there are positive aspects
in this situation.
this is not a normal situation, of course. All
of these restrictions do not produce anything
good, and we should work towards a global
economy that functions without these
If possible, I would like to return to the issue
of public opinion on the performance of regional
authorities. We have been collecting questions
for the past 12 days and have noticed that
journalists have used some of these questions
as themes for their reports, citing people’s
complaints and requests. Miraculously, asphalt
was laid, walls painted and building facades
repaired the next day after the stories appeared
on Channel One or Rossiya. This seems to have
solved the problem, or has it?
And there is also a different trend. Tatyana
Remezova can correct me if I am wrong, because
this story was aired on her show. It is about
people complaining over long queues
in outpatient clinics while doctors say that
this is not true. Then, there is the issue
of pseudo-assistance, when people pretend that
there is no problem, and simultaneously,
the issue of the pseudo-problem, when people try
to make a mountain out of a molehill.
I would like to say that we record all these
cases. Mr President, we will forward the list
of issues that have been allegedly resolved
and also pseudo-problems to you
and the Presidential Executive Office.
It looks as though holding this event once
a year is useful after all. Those who were
sitting on their hands will do something good,
like build a road or settle matters with
healthcare or social facilities. But these are
only separate elements. What matters for me is
the ability to gauge the public mood, to see
what worries people most, the whole range
of issues. Of course, it is impossible to answer
every question. It would be unrealistic to even
try. But we can answer some of them today –
I can do this with your help. And this will help
us – me, the Government and the Presidential
Executive Office – to see the main, and I would
even say the most glaring issues, which we must
deal with as a priority. I would like to thank
our television audience, and those who sent
their requests online, for taking part in this
I know that the subject of sanctions has found
a response among the guests in this studio.
Olga Pautova has the floor.
Mr President, there are many agribusiness
representatives in this room. They are more
concerned with our response to the sanctions
and the related import replacement.
Standing next to me is Sergei Korolev, head
of the National Vegetable Union. He says
the past three years have taught our farmers
to grow delicious and, most importantly,
wholesome tomatoes and cucumbers.
Korolev, do we have productive harvests?
We are growing by about 20–30 percent a year.
President, you mentioned the sanctions earlier.
We see the measures introduced against Russia
as a gift and an additional tool to support our
agro-industrial sector. The retaliatory measures
that were introduced have produced an effect.
Vegetable production is growing at a rate
unprecedented both in the Soviet Union
and in recent history. I can tell you that we
grew by 50 percent over the year when
the retaliatory measures were introduced. We
have invested 150 billion rubles in vegetable
farming. You mentioned these figures today – 150
billion over a short period – [as an example]
of growing investment. This is without
a precedent. More than 10,000 new jobs have been
created. And we are certainly ready to continue
all of us are concerned with the following
issue. The US Senate adopted a decision
yesterday, and Europe declared that their
sanctions would be extended and even expanded.
Will we extend our counter-sanctions in response
to the West’s decisions?
And a second question: When, God forbid, their
sanctions are called off, can we hope for your
support in protecting the domestic market,
as was the case with Turkish tomatoes, for which
Russian vegetable growers owe you a special
This is not a peripheral question, since it is
relevant to the whole country. Why? Two years
ago, as you and I know all too well, vegetable
and fruit production was the most challenging
issue. Prices jumped which could not help but
affect household incomes. In fact, we blocked
or substantially reduced imports, but were
unable to meet the needs of Russian consumers
on our own. We did everything we could,
and I will not go through the whole list
of initiatives we undertook. You know them
better than I do, and I hope that you have
benefited from them. These initiatives were
aimed at helping our producers expand vegetable
and fruit production, primarily vegetables. Two
years ago, the inflation rate reached 12.9
percent, and vegetable and fruit prices were one
of the main reasons behind this surge, although
there were other reasons that also pushed
the inflation rate up.
What we believed was that Russian agricultural
producers, meat producers and those growing
fruit and vegetables, needed to expand their
operations to such an extent as to be able
to satisfy domestic demand. You have been
successful at this, and I would like to thank
you. Not only you, but all those who live
in rural areas.
The inflation rate is now at just 4.1 percent.
This is a tangible result that benefits
the entire industry. After all, almost one third
of the country’s population lives
on agriculture, if we include the rural
population working in social services. This is
a very positive development. You were right
to say that your products have superior quality.
The Government has extended the sanctions until
the end of 2017, to December 31. We will see how
our relations evolve with the countries that
imposed these restrictions on the Russian
As for the question of keeping the restrictions
in place indefinitely, if our partners lift
the sanctions they imposed on us, we will have
to do the same. Otherwise, Russia will face
issues in the WTO. What I want to say is, first,
we need to promote competition on the domestic
market so that it benefits consumers, including
those who live in major cities. Secondly, we
very much hope that you will succeed
in expanding your operations and enhancing your
competitiveness, and we are doing everything we
can to help you succeed. If you reach the same
level of quality and labour productivity as your
competitors, you will always have an advantage
on the domestic market due to lower logistics
costs. For this reason, we are providing
indirect support, which is not prohibited under
WTO rules. As a matter of fact, there are many
loopholes that can be used, and we will continue
to do so. However, you should not expect any
massive, direct, or, should I say, aggressive
support measures from us. Now is the time when
you have to do everything it takes in order
to become competitive in the near term.
Let’s cross to the call centre and hear
a telephone call. Maria, you have the floor.
Yes, thank you.
President, many people call about issues that
they have been attempting to resolve
at the local level for a long time. Finally,
when they get desperate, they turn to you
in a bid to get something done quicker. We have
a call now from Trans-Baikal Territory.
Hello, you are on air. Please introduce
President, I am Natalya Kalinina, a resident
of Olovyanninsky District, Trans-Baikal
Territory. My village, Shiviya, was burned down
entirely on April 29, 2015. I remain homeless
to this date.
were offered housing, but it was unfit
for habitation. I have a small child and am
a single mother. I have turned to all possible
levels of authority, but have received no
response anywhere. Our district officials have
taken no action at all.
My daughter is set to begin school this year,
but we have no place of residence registration.
We are living in an old abandoned house. Mr
President, please help us to obtain a decent
place to live.
Thank you very much. God bless you.
Ms Kalinina, please stay on the line. Which
region are you in?
Olovyanninsky District, Trans-Baikal Territory.
Trans-Baikal Territory? This is strange.
Yes, Trans-Baikal Territory was indeed hit
by fires in the summer of 2015, and we disbursed
in full federal money for providing the fire
victims with new housing.
I do not remember the exact figure now, but
I think it was a bit over half a billion rubles
that we allocated, including over 300 million
for resolving these housing problems, and this
money was to have been spent on either buying
housing or on building new homes for families
such Ms Kalinina’s.
The region has a new governor, true, she arrived
only in 2016. I will ask her to look into this
situation and will also ask the prosecutor’s
office to investigate where the money went
and how it was spent. Whatever the case, we will
resolve your problem. This is the state
authorities’ duty. We promised to provide
everyone affected by the fires with housing,
and we will do this.
Maria, what are the updates? How many calls per
minute is the call centre receiving? How busy is
Of course, Dmitry, I can give you the updates.
But first, I would like to show you how
questions for the Direct Line are taken. Our
operators fill in forms for every caller with
their name, gender, age, occupation and,
of course, their question.
For example, here we have a form for Ella
Pavskina from Moscow Region who asked a question
about kindergarten waiting lists. Every minute
we receive 106 SMS and MMS messages. Our
operators take around 127 calls per minute.
The line’s maximum capacity is up to 456 calls.
Right now, we have a call from Ivan Tarkin
in Vladivostok. Good evening to you, since it is
already evening in your city. You are on. Please
ask your question.
Mr President, this is Ivan Tarkin from the free
city of Vladivostok.
President, can you explain what is going on with
the One Hectare programme? Mockery is the only
word that describes it. You have to spend months
on the website to register your plot and nothing
happens, the website crashes all the time.
By the skin of my teeth, I managed to get
a cadastral number, print the contract, sign it
and submit it to the Vladivostok Land Committee,
Since then, I have not been able to get it back
for ever new reasons. A hundred years ago,
Stolypin with his primitive tools never made
such mistakes. Why is that?
The Stolypin reference is appropriate here,
of course. Do not forget that there were also
so-called Stolypin trains that people were
forced onto, and so-called Stolypin ties, which
were nothing but gallows. But it is true; we
must remember all the positive things that
Stolypin did for our country. This is why there
is a monument to him outside the Government
House in Moscow. We do not have a death penalty
now as you know, although sometimes, you know
what I mean.
As concerns the hectare programme: first of all,
the programme is going fairly well overall.
I will speak about this in a minute. Primorye
Territory is struggling with it the most, I will
Last February, we made a decision that any
Russian citizen who wants to move to the Far
East will be given one hectare.
The number of applications rose immediately.
There are 92,000 applications now. Even
the system that was designed to process them has
glitches. About 27,000 of the 92,000
applications have been granted, which is more
than a third. This is the first thing.
The second. In the European part of Russia, it
takes up to three years to obtain a land plot,
as disappointing as this sounds, while
in the Far East it takes a little over two
months to get this one hectare.
Your case is, of course, discouraging. What
could be the matter is beyond my knowledge, but
we will certainly try to help you. I am sure
that the relevant ministers in the region are
listening, as is Deputy Prime Minister Yury
Trutnev. They will certainly respond.
What is the problem? The problem is that they do
not have a proper cadastral register. This is
their first problem.
The second problem is that too much land belongs
to official agencies, like the Defence Ministry,
the Academy of Sciences and all the departments
involved in environmental protection. And so we
have one figure on paper and a different one
in reality. You have been issued a cadastral
number, but when you started checking the data
you found a disparity, and now you need
to settle it with various departments.
I will try helping you in this. I will try
helping my colleagues, the governors, coordinate
these issues so that nobody else has these
problems. I am sure that you will receive your
hectare of land. Good luck.
We do receive many complaints from the Far East
about the allocation of land under the One
Hectare programme. At the same time, people from
other regions demand to know when this programme
will be spread around Russia. Vasily Denisov
from the town of Blagoi in the Tver Region
wonders if the One Hectare programme will also
be applied in other regions, which must surely
have unused land too.
There is enough unused land in Russia.
For example, over 43 million hectares
of farmland is not being used for its intended
purpose. This is a huge amount.
first we need to complete the experiment
in the Far East. As you can see, there are some
problems, such as the one we heard about
on the phone, although the situation is mostly
favourable. In other words, we first need
to test this process in the Far East. And we
also need to settle the problem of cadastral
Overall, I believe that the person who asked
this question is right, and we do need to make
use of this land. However, we should do it
carefully so as not to create a secondary market
for the land we allocate under the One Hectare
programme because our people are very creative,
you know: they can take several hectares first,
then there will emerge a secondary market,
and we end up with those hectares being resold
many times without any tillage. Although
the corresponding law says it all. This land is
not being allocated as property. The land
holders must show good result during the first
five years, after which they will be able
to receive either a long-term lease for this
land or appropriate it. But they may not sell it
to foreigners. In short, we need to test every
detail of this programme in the Far East. But
overall, it is the right idea.
This year, the call centre editors, and all
of us working on the Direct Line, selected
a number of questions not only to let a person
ask it live over the phone, or to record a video
message, but to immediately send a film crew
to the scene to see with our own eyes, through
the eyes of our colleagues, what is happening
there, on site. The first such place is
Balashikha, outside Moscow. Our colleague Dmitry
Kaistro is there now.
is raining today and visibility is not great,
but giant rubbish heaps are clearly visible
in the heart of this neighbourhood
of Balashikha. This dump has been here for more
than 50 years, poisoning everything around it,
and rubbish trucks bring more all the time, day
and night. This dump is even visible from outer
space – it takes up about 50 hectares and is
closing in on the surrounding houses.
have worked here for several days, but when we
arrived at the landfill, strong young people
emerged wearing “environmentalist” T-shirts with
‘Environmental Control’ written on them. They
showed us some kind of facility for processing
rubbish, even decorated with balloons
in the colours of the Russian flag – it looked
like some proactive move. This was a perfect
illustration of the place and the disaster that
has rallied tens of thousands of people here. We
did not even have to ask – people came to us
to talk about the burning matter and ask their
live here in the neighborhood of Kuchino,
in Balashikha, and some of us are from Olgino
and Pavlino. The situation here is terrible,
simply unbearable in fact. There is a huge
landfill, the biggest in Moscow Region, within
our town, just 200 metres from residential
areas, kindergartens and clinics, and only 20
kilometres from the Kremlin. This is a violation
of Federal Law No. 89.
Fires occur on the landfill daily; it is
impossible to breathe, and there is a constant
release of gases, methanethiol and sulphur
dioxide. They become converted to hydrogen
sulphide, and we breathe it. Many suffer from
nausea and vomiting, all the time. It is
have appealed to many government agencies
at various levels, receiving only formal
and noncommittal replies; we have it all
documented. We do not know what to do. This is
not only our problem; it is a problem
for the whole country. We do not know what to do
in this situation. Turning to you is our last
This is a very sensitive and complicated issue.
I know full well what you are talking about.
I have seen this waste disposal site.
As the reporter said, it has been there for 50
years. By the way, I see that you are standing
by a building that was clearly built less than
50 years ago. Someone did decide to build
housing near a waste disposal site that has been
there for 50 years. So let’s not forget
the people who took the decision to build
residential buildings in this area. The dump has
been there for 50 years. Nevertheless, we have
what we have, and it is our duty to respond.
Of course, we are aware of the problem. There is
special urgency to deal with it in the Moscow
Region, Tatarstan, Tula and a number of other
What measures will be taken? First, a decision
was made to build recycling plants. Four of them
will be erected in the project’s initial phase,
and three of them will be located in the Moscow
Region. By the way, advanced Japanese technology
will be used, provided by Hitachi, if I am not
mistaken, and the Rostec Corporation will be
in charge of building these units. This should
be done as quickly as possible. This is
the first point.
The second point is that 5 billion rubles were
allocated from the federal budget, which is
a substantial amount, to resolve the most
pressing issues we are currently facing in this
area. This is clearly your case. I will ask
the Governor of the Moscow Region
and the federal Government to use these
allocations to resolve the most pressing issues
like the one you are facing. I hope that this
will be done.
The law on waste management was adopted quite
a while ago, but its enactment has been delayed
time and again. I think now it is expected
to come into force on January 1, 2019. Why was
it rolled back? Because manufacturers have
to pay recycling fees under the law, so during
the crisis, manufacturers asked us to postpone
these fees in order to lessen the burden
on the economy. This is the first thing I wanted
to say about this law.
Secondly, with regard to individuals, this law
stipulates that certain environmental fees must
be paid by individuals as well. However,
the effect of paying these fees will not be
visible right away, because it is first
necessary to build something using these funds,
after which the effect will become visible. All
this time we had doubts: will the people
understand this, and should it be done at all?
I want to ask everyone who will engage in this
work or is already engaged: the people will
certainly understand if they see where the money
is going, and to make sure they do, we need
public oversight in place.
By the way, I would like to thank Russian
Popular Front, which created the corresponding
map. Hundreds of people are already working
on this as they identify the most critical
issues. With regard to Balashikha, we will look
into this issue separately and try to fix it.
I can understand perfectly the critical
importance of this problem. It has been building
up over decades. We will try to fix it as soon
By the way, Balashikha is one of the places
I was talking about. We were choosing locations
in the regions for these reports and these
questions arrived on every one of the 12 days
that we were taking messages from different
regions. We chose Balashikha, and went there.
You can see everything and get a good sense
of what is going on.
Well, of course. People are standing there,
and it stinks to high heaven.
Unfortunately, the screen cannot convey
the smell. You just saw what Dmitry Kaistro
showed us. It looks like they have spruced
things up a little, and built some kind
of a line there in one day. However, we have
a photo taken the day before. I just want
to show it to you, if I may.
This is modern-day Balashikha, the picture was
taken yesterday. In a matter of one day,
the balloons suddenly appeared. It looks like
the matter is being addressed. They are saying
there is no problem whatsoever.
We now have Irkutsk Region online. Lake Baikal
and its biggest island, Olkhon Island. Our
colleague Pavel Zarubin joins us from there.
Hello, Moscow! Olkhon Island sits in the middle
of Lake Baikal. Look how beautiful it is here.
Shamanka Rock is one of the main attractions
of the lake.
Later, we will see that almost all trees here
are covered with beautiful ribbons, as,
according to local legends, Shamanka Rock
and Cape Burkhan are believed to be a special
sacred place, a place of worship.
Of course, many tourists come to the Olkhon
Island on Lake Baikal. Just imagine that 10
years ago there was no electricity in Khuzhir,
from which we are broadcasting now, while now
this town with a population of 1,500 has two
or three thousand tourists every day
in the summer – every single day!
The Yordynsky Games have begun in the Olkhon
District. The games are a beautiful ethnic
and cultural festival. Let’s take a few seconds
to watch and listen.
Foreign tourists flock here to see the festival
by the thousands; there are so many of them
around! But the locals have complained that they
live as if in a reservation.
The Russian nature conservation legislation was
seriously tightened several years ago. The water
conservation zone of Lake Baikal has been
expanded inland by dozens of kilometres,
and locals say that they will be unable to do
anything here if they comply with the law.
They say that it is a major problem. Nearly all
the residents of this town have said so, but
Viktor was especially expressive.
Viktor, over to you.
Good afternoon, Mr President.
us begin with the road. The road from the ferry
to Khuzhir is so bad that it is almost
non-existent. Many people come here by car,
and these are expensive cars, and so people
drive off from the road, trampling vegetation so
that it will take a decade for grass to grow
Nobody takes care of this road. The last time
the road was filled was 10 or 15 years ago.
Local and regional officials always fly
in by helicopter, and so they do not see
the road and do not know what it means to drive
on a road on which vehicles easily turn upside
Indeed, the regional bosses arrived here
by helicopter an hour ago. There it is,
the helicopter, you can see it.
A few words about the water. We live on water.
Look how much water there is all around us, but
we get our drinking water from wells. It is
incredibly bad! You fill a three-litre kettle
and think that it is full of water, but it turns
out there is a layer of hard water build-up two
fingers thick in the kettle. Our drinking water
is not filtered, and they cannot even build
a good water tower.
As I understand it, you cannot build a road
there, or can you?
No, we cannot build a road because the law
prohibits quarrying on the island. Quarrying is
allowed only on the mainland. But it would be
impossible to transport all the materials
by ferry, which runs strictly on schedule.
So, is it also because of this law that you
cannot build a road?
When the Baikal National Park was established,
a reserve was set up on our island. When we met
at the club with the representatives, they
promised us the moon and said that no one was
going to infringe on our rights and nothing bad
In reality, everything happened: we are not
allowed into the forest, not allowed into
the fields, and things have reached a point
where even our cattle are arrested and we are
told that if we let this happen again, our
cattle will be shot.
We were in Balashikha only recently and we saw
there the conditions in which people are living.
This is the result of the fact that
environmental norms were ignored at one point
and people built housing in places where this
should not have been done.
certainly must resolve this situation now.
I would like to get back, because what I have
seen made an impression and we must do
everything possible to help Balashikha and help
the people living there.
Your situation is the other side of the coin,
but these are two sides of the same matter. You
said that environmental norms and legal
provisions were toughened, but these territories
are no doubt protected by our international
obligations as well.
What can I say here? Of course, everything
should be within reasonable limits.
The protected water reservoir zone that you
speak of should conform to Baikal’s status
and significance and meet the needs and demands
of the people living in the area.
Of course, we cannot force people to carry
buckets and cans of water for several
kilometres. Water quality should be guaranteed
and roads should be built. We must amend
the current regulations and laws in such a way
as to allow for economic activity, coordinated
with the environmental organisations, in order
to ensure normal and civilised conditions
for the people living in these areas.
need to make amendments to these laws. I have
taken note of the matter. We will work together
with you. I will say again that together with
the environmental organisations we should do
everything to ensure that things stay within
reasonable limits. This is definitely necessary
I do not think this will have any negative
impact on our commitments to international
organisations. These organisations make people
the primary focus of their work, so why should
we not do the same? I see no reason not to. We
will address this problem.
Thank you, Olkhon.
received many questions from young mothers. This
is why we went to a perinatal centre that has
recently opened in the Republic
of Bashkortostan, where our colleague Ivan
Prozorov is working.
Colleagues, good afternoon,
are in the Mother and Child clinic,
a state-of-the-art multi-purpose centre, where
high-technology surgery is performed, including
under government quotas.
Of course, the main purpose of this centre is
obvious from its name, Mother and Child. We are
now in a ward for newborns, where mothers take
care of their babies. By the way, we know that
this mother and her child are about to leave
the clinic. They will be home in a matter
This child was born less than two days ago. Both
the mother and the child feel great, which
should be credited among others to Ruslan
Garifullin, who is an obstetrician-gynaecologist.
He has been working at this centre since its
More than 2,000 babies were born here in almost
three years. Doctor Garifullin submitted
a written question to Direct Line, and now he
can ask it himself.
Doctor Garifullin, go ahead.
Good afternoon, Mr President.
I am an obstetrician-gynaecologist,
and have been working in maternity centres
for 15 years. During my career, I had a chance…
Excuse me, my colleague is telling me that
behind us you can see a ward where a young
father has just entered with a newborn. Is that
Yes, his child was born only a few moments ago.
Sorry for improvising. We knew that
the operation was underway, but did not expect
it to happen when we would be live.
Hello, you may not believe it, but this is
Direct Line with Vladimir Putin. Millions
of people can now see you. Congratulations
on behalf of all of them. This is an incredible
moment. What is your name, and how do you feel?
Hello, my name is Artyom Sukharev. This is
actually my second child. He was born only 20
minutes ago, and I got to hold him right away.
My wife is still in the intensive-care ward,
while I get to know my child.
Were you nervous just as with your first child?
Or was it less dramatic?
You know, I was less nervous, although there
were still a lot of emotions.
Is it a boy or a girl?
It’s a boy. This is the second boy
in the family.
Great, congratulations! What is his weight
He is 3.8 kilograms and 54 centimetres long.
Have you chosen a name?
Yes, his name will be Mikhail.
Amazing. Can you show us the baby? Is he sound
asleep right now?
No, he is trying to open his eyes. Everything is
interesting for him.
Thank you, and once again congratulations.
Please send our well-wishes to your spouse. We
will not disturb you any longer. Thank you,
are returning to the question. Ruslan, I am
sorry we were interrupted. Can you repeat your
This was a good reason for interrupting, great
news. I will continue.
President, here it goes. Over the 15 years
of my career, I have seen the birth rate both
in decline and on the rise, the latter
in the past seven or eight years. However, right
now we are actually afraid that the birth rate
will begin to drop again as a backwash
of the birth rate drop in the 90s. There are
literally fewer women these days who are ready
to have children.
In this regard, my question is, will
the maternity capital programme, which expires
in 2018, be extended? And will it cover
the birth of a third child and further children?
Also, our new mothers are certainly concerned
with the child allowance they receive once
the child turns 18 months. At the moment they
get paid a pathetic 50 rubles. It think it is
a measly amount. Will anything change?
First, I would like to congratulate Mikhail
and his parents on his birth and the boy himself
on coming into this world. It is a wonderful
event for his family. We wish the parents
and the child the best of luck and happiness.
to the demographics. Indeed, we have done a lot
to turn the demographic trends towards stable
growth. We have achieved a very positive result.
The birth rate in Russia is growing faster than
across Europe. When I say that, many
of my counterparts are surprised and honestly
happy for us. Now, what I want to say about
the trends is the following.
Russia suffered the biggest loss in terms
of population and demographic development during
the Great Patriotic War in 1943 and 1944.
In 1943, the birth rate fell by 60 percent
compared to the pre-war years.
During that time, fewer than one million
children were born in Russia, in the Russian
Soviet Federative Socialist Republic.
In the 1990s, also due to difficult events, we
had 1.2 million children borne, which is similar
to the demographic loss during the war. The drop
was around 50 percent.
Surely, we must take into account that
the second case was also a repercussion
of the Great Patriotic War to an extent, added
to the dissolution of the Soviet Union,
the collapse of the social welfare system,
the drop in the quality of life, and massive
unemployment. All these factors together
resulted in a catastrophic birth rate decline,
and it comes back every 25 years.
First the war, then every 25 years,
and in the mid-90s the collapse of the Soviet
Union and everything it entailed affected
the picture. Eventually, we almost fell back
to the level of the Great Patriotic War.
And what do we have as a result? The number
of young people, primarily women of childbearing
age, as professionals say, has plummeted.
The generation that was born in the 1990s has
entered this age.
The number of young women aged between 20 and 29
has decreased by 34 percent and the number
of women aged up to 38 or 39 has dropped by 25
percent. Women aged between 30 and 40 continue
to have children, and these are healthy kids. We
should be grateful to medical advances for this.
But still, the decline is tremendous. The number
of people who can become parents has decreased.
must do something to prevent the demographic gap
from becoming wider still. What can we do?
First, we have a number of tried and tested
systems. You have mentioned one of them –
maternity capital. By the way, over 7 million
families, over 7 million mothers have received
maternity capital, and nearly half of them have
used it. This is our first achievement.
Second, allocations for a third child have been
introduced in the regions with an unfavourable
demographic situation. As a result, the birth
rate has increased by 37 percent there. Yes, we
have achieved the desired result. Our measures
are effective, although they are also expensive.
But we are talking about our people, our
citizens, and our future. We must analyse all
aspects of the problem very carefully.
Of course, we must not squander funds, but
neither should we be stingy with them.
Therefore, we need a set of various measures,
such as the extension of the maternity capital
programme as it exists or in a new form.
must think about encouraging young women to have
their first babies, probably by allocating funds
to them. Why so much attention to young mothers?
Because they are still young, and so we should
help them by giving them a start in life. We
must also think about encouraging older mothers,
that is, mothers aged 30 or more, to have their
second and third children.
have resolved the problem of kindergartens
for children aged between three to seven. It is
a major achievement of our social policy
in the past year. As far as I know, there are
places for 89 percent of children in this age
group in kindergartens. But we do not have
enough day nurseries.
must have nurseries for young mothers who do not
wish to interrupt their careers or would like
to have one. We need a programme and a package
of measures. I can tell you that we have plans
for a government meeting to discuss this issue.
I will not speak here about the measures we will
discuss, but they are on the agenda.
Ufa, and congratulations on the birth of a new
citizen of Russia. It is a wonderful event.
While we were answering your question, we
received a question from Tatyana Prokopenko
in Kabardino-Balkaria. She is asking about your
grandchildren. How old are they, and what are
my children, my daughters, despite all
the rumours, live here in Russia, in Moscow.
I have grandchildren and they live a normal life
too. My daughters are involved in science
and education and they stay out of the public
eye, out of politics and live normal, everyday
lives. As for my grandchildren, one of them is
already in kindergarten.
The thing is, you see, I do not want them
to grow up like some royal princes. I want them
to live like ordinary people, and for this, they
need to have a normal environment and ordinary
interaction with other children. The minute
I give their names and ages, they would be
identified immediately and would never be left
in peace, and this would be quite simply
detrimental to their development. Therefore,
everything is fine, and I ask you to understand
me correctly and show understanding for this
position of mine.
We understand you and we congratulate you
on being a grandfather.
My second grandchild was born recently.
You said that the maternity capital programme
should be expanded. We have received many
messages from mothers in the regions asking
for the new law to allow them to spend
the maternity capital on purchasing a car, which
is often an essential thing for large families.
have been frequent discussions
on the possibilities of spending the maternity
capital, which today comes to slightly more than
450,000 roubles. The maternity capital was not
indexed over the last couple of years, the last
three years even. This is something we must do
and we will come back to this.
As for whether this money could be put towards
other purposes, this is something we can reflect
on. The only thing that has always worried me is
that the money will be simply wasted
and the mother, family and children will not
receive the benefits of this state effort. This
money is destined above all for improving
housing conditions. Yes, this money is probably
not enough to buy housing, but it can help
towards buying it. Young families can also join
one of the regional programmes for supporting
young families and spend the money through these
programmes. Alternatively, it can be spent
on health or education. These are the main
Given the main issue people face today –
the drop in incomes – we could perhaps take
the simple approach of making it possible
for part of the maternity capital to be given
directly to the family, only part of it,
to support families with two or more children.
Perhaps this would be more effective than
allowing people to spend it on something that is
not a priority and then see it wasted, possibly
the item being sold, and even at a loss. Perhaps
it would be better to let people have part
of the money in today’s circumstances. We will
reflect on this.
Still, maternity capital is a lot of money –
450,000. But child benefits, as they report from
various regions, are paltry: 183 rubles or 200
I am sorry. One of our colleagues, a doctor, has
already asked a question about benefits. Yes,
they are small. Indeed, they are, but we had
a choice: either to increase the benefits
or keep maternity capital. We opted for keeping
maternal capital. It is a major financial
commitment for the government, but it is a more
effective tool. Still, we need to think about
I would like our guests in the studio to join
in the conversation. Nailya Asker-zade. Please
There are representatives of small
and medium-sized businesses among our guests,
and they complain about problems with financing.
One of the business leaders here, Alexander
Kychakov from Novosibirsk, develops residential
Kychakov, your question please.
Hello, Mr President!
The business community is often confronted with
one and the same problem: although banks declare
interest rates of 11–12 percent, the actual rate
in our particular case reaches almost 19
percent – 18.75 – through additional mark-ups
and charges required to open credit lines,
to maintain limits, or to meet restrictions.
With such rates, as I mentioned, we will not be
able to build a new economy, and unfortunately,
business is unlikely to be as profitable as we
would have liked. I would like to ask
a question. My colleagues will confirm: we just
sat here and talked with Maxim, who owns
an equipment-making business. I would like
to know: do your ministers report to you
on the real state of affairs with the financing
of small and medium-sized businesses,
and whether the Government plans to do anything
with the level of interest rates and take steps
towards solving the problem of ensuring growth
and access to financing.
Excuse me, what is your name?
Alexander, this, of course, is one of the key
problems – the interest rates
and the availability of loans. We have the head
of the Higher School of Economics here, who
would probably explain this to you, even more
professionally than I would, especially since he
is close to the Governor of the Central Bank.
does this happen? Of course, the interest rate
always corresponds to the level of economic
development. This is one of the key things that
affects the country’s macroeconomic stability.
We had to act based on inflation, which surged
to 12.9 percent. The Central Bank was forced
to raise this rate, otherwise it would have sent
the economy tumbling, but it is reducing
the rate gradually, as you know, it is now 12.5,
and the rates of commercial banks are also
falling. True, the Central Bank promised us that
this year the volume of financing from
commercial banks will be increased to around 6
What is happening today? Today, the average
weighted rate for corporate borrowers is 11.5
percent. Small businesses probably have to pay
a higher interest rate, 11.5 percent is
the average figure. Incidentally, regarding this
and other subjects we will be discussing,
I would like to apologise right away to people
who say, “What does the average weighted
indicator mean for us? This is like calculating
the mean temperature of hospital patients. Some
people have bigger loans or lower incomes,
and few are what you call average.” We need some
kind of reference point. What does an average
weighted interest rate mean to us? Clients whom
the banks view as reliable, stable, transparent
and with a good credit history can borrow
at even lower rates, while at-risk borrowers can
take out loans only at a higher interest rate.
As I have already said, we are talking about
an average interest rate of 11.5 percent
for corporate borrowers and 15.5 percent
for individuals. Nevertheless, mortgage lending
is on the rise, through all the initiatives
to facilitate lending.
I very much hope that the Central Bank continues
to move cautiously towards reducing the key
has the Central Bank adopted such a cautious
approach? Unfortunately, the Russian economy
still depends on oil and gas. The price
of natural gas depends on the price of oil,
and a special formula is used to calculate it.
The price of oil has recently exceeded $50,
and today it is only $48, I think. The Central
Bank believes that if it declines, the key
interest rate would have to be adjusted. What
matters most for us right now is not the key
interest rate itself, but avoiding any sharp
fluctuations in the key interest rate. We need
to ensure a stable exchange rate for our
national currency, the ruble. This is what
underpins the Central Bank’s cautious approach.
Some may like it, others may not. I am simply
trying to explain the Central Bank’s logic. It
There is no doubt that small businesses should
be supported. I will not go through all
the mechanisms we have in place for supporting
SMEs, you probably know them, and these
mechanisms should be further improved.
also have to create incentives for the banking
sector to act more aggressively. One thing
to keep in mind is that profits of private banks
are on the rise and have exceeded 650 billion,
which is a substantial figure. At the same time,
this kind of growth does not translate into more
lending. In fact, corporate lending has
increased by only 0.7 percent. The rise
in consumer lending was somewhat more
pronounced, but this is not enough. We have
to work together and be cautious so as not
to shake up the macroeconomic landscape. This is
the foundation of Russia’s financial system
and its entire economy.
Let us hear from the call centre. Maria
President, the geography of calls is all over
the map. We get many calls from the CIS
and beyond. Our editors are telling me we have
a call from Kiev.
Dmitry, please ask your question.
Good afternoon. My name is Dmitry, and I live
did you abandon us? Not everybody in Ukraine
supports Bandera and Shukhevych. We honour
the memory of our ancestors. We march with
the Immortal Regiment. Why does Russian
television smear us all with one colour?
Thank you very much for your views
and for valuing our shared history. You just
mentioned the Immortal Regiment. We do see
and appreciate that, believe me. And I cannot
agree with you that Russian television smears
everybody with the same colour, black.
Overall, we make sure not to paint anyone black.
But we are cautious about giving you excessive
public support, which could actually harm you.
We try not to interfere in Ukraine’s domestic
Once again, trust me, we can and do highly
appreciate your stance. Thank you for your call.
Mr President, what do your friends say on this
topic? For example, Viktor Medvedchuk, who was
actively involved in the exchange of POWs
You know that we have many allies in Ukraine.
You just mentioned Viktor Medvedchuk. I met him
when he was Chief of Staff of President Kuchma’s
Administration. He mainly cooperated with Dmitry
Medvedev, who was Chief of Staff of the Russian
Presidential Executive Office. They are still
on very good terms.
Medvedvchuk has his own beliefs. My opinion is
that he is a Ukrainian nationalist but he does
not like this description. He considers himself
to be an enlightened Ukrainian patriot. It is
not a secret that his father was an active
member of the Organisation of Ukrainian
Nationalists and was convicted by the Soviet
court, went to prison and then was exiled
to the Krasnoyarsk Territory, where Medvedvchuk
himself was later born.
has his own views on Ukraine’s independence. He
is, of course, an ardent supporter of Ukraine’s
independence but his belief system is based
on fundamental treatises of those whom we can
hypothetically describe as Ukrainian
nationalists and who wrote their treatises
in the 19th century and later on.
These are Grushevsky, Franko, Dragomanov
and the like. Then comes the man of our time,
of them – I would like to emphasise that all
of them proceeded from the premise that Ukraine
should be independent but as a federal state.
Moreover, one of them wrote that excessive,
“mechanical” centralisation, as he put it, would
lead to internal conflicts in Ukraine and this
is, actually, what we are witnessing today.
Viktor Medvedchuk is upholding their view; he is
doing this on-the-record in his public speeches
and papers. He is involved in scholarly studies.
He writes articles and he does all this
publicly. Probably, some people in Ukraine do
not like this but such is his position.
Incidentally, these fundamentalists of Ukraine’s
independence and Ukrainian nationalism – some
of them did not see Crimea as part of Ukraine
at all, but this is apropos. At any rate, all
of them favoured federalisation, greater freedom
of the individual and democratic development
of the Ukrainian state.
Medvedchuk shares this viewpoint but that said,
he stands for very good relations with Russia,
for economic integration, if not for some form
of union. He says it is absurd to destroy
the advantages we inherited from the past,
referring to the common infrastructure, common
energy grid and common financial
and technological potentials and cooperation. It
is absurd to destroy all this.
believes economic cooperation is not only
possible but also rational. He is acting
or rather formulating his ideas proceeding from
the interests of his people, the way he sees
them. So he is not alone.
have just heard from Kiev or from Ukraine
anyway, from a man who told us that he is taking
part in campaigns linked with our common memory.
Such people as Medvedchuk are also doing this.
He also thinks we should cherish our common past
and all the positive events of the past.
Yes, he is involved in the exchange
of detainees, prisoners of war, if we could call
them that, and he is doing this on instructions
from Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.
We have a follow-up to the Ukraine theme.
Here is a question that came through VKontakte
social network. “Ukraine widely celebrated
the beginning of visa-free travel with Europe.
President Poroshenko referred to this as bidding
the final farewell to the Russian Empire. After
that, he quoted Mikhail Lermontov’s poem,
“Forever you, the unwashed Russia! The land
of slaves, the land of lords …”
Would you like to answer him?
No, I did not see his remarks on this account.
However, I was told about them yesterday, I will
not hide this fact. Indeed, Mr Poroshenko
thought it fit to read this excerpt from
Lermontov’s poem, “Forever you, the unwashed
Russia! The land of slaves the land of lords,
and you, the blue-uniformed ushers, and people
who worship them as gods.” First, this tells us
that he is familiar with the Russian classical
literature, and takes an interest in it.
I commend him for that. However, this is not
the end of this poem. There is the second part,
which runs as follows: “I hope, from your
tyrannic hounds to save me with Caucasian wall,
from their eye that sees through ground, from
their ears that hear all.”
Mikhail Lermontov was a forward-looking man,
and he wanted the political situation in Russia
to improve. He was smothered by the atmosphere
that prevailed in Russia at that time. And he
talked about it openly.
First, if it was Mikhail Lermontov who wrote
this poem, he wrote it approximately
in 1841–1842, if memory serves, when he was
headed for the Caucasus to join the active army.
He was an officer and defended the interests
of his homeland. He was a brave officer.
Further, at that point, the regions that are
considered Ukraine today were Russia’s regions,
and if the President of today's Ukraine quotes
Lermontov as saying that he is leaving for some
other place, Lermontov referred to entire
Russia, including the areas that today are known
as Ukraine. So, there is nothing special to brag
Also, Lermontov was going to the Caucasus, which
was part of the Russian Empire at that time. He
moved from one part of the empire, St
Petersburg, his native land, to another part
of the Russian Empire. He was not going anywhere
outside of Russia as a matter of fact.
Perhaps, Mr Poroshenko is thus sending us
a message that he is not going anywhere, either.
However, he does it so finely, looking over his
shoulder at the jingoists and the real
nationalists, numbskulls running around waving
swastikas. However, he is telling us: guys,
I have my interests in Russia, and I am really
not going anywhere. This may be the case
Of course, this is nothing but conjecture.
In fact, most likely, Mr Poroshenko wanted
to show his voters that he is delivering on his
promise by making a civilisational choice,
as the Ukrainian leadership puts it, by leading
the country towards Europe.
By the way, remember the line,
“the blue-uniformed ushers, and people who
worship them as gods?” The place he is taking
Ukraine to has more blue uniforms than our
country. So, he should stay alert to keep out
of harm’s way and look around carefully.
To be sure, we have nothing against these guys.
I want to say: we have nothing against you, live
in peace and harmony, and good luck to you,
especially with new recruits.
As for the core of the matter, you know that
incomes fell here a few years back, and this is
something we speak about frankly. Our average
wage, if we put it in dollars rather than
convert between rubles and hryvnia, was around
$540 a month. Wages in Ukraine were similar,
with an average of somewhere in the range
of $450, $457, or $460. Wages here have not
grown much, but they have grown, and the average
was $624 a month in April this year, while
in Ukraine, they have dropped to $251 a month.
At the same time, gas prices have at least
tripled, and households are paying even higher
prices. Cold and hot water costs have also
risen, by 200 percent each, and pensions have
decreased by 45 percent. If this situation
continues, many people in Ukraine will face
sanitation and hygiene issues.
gets to wash, where, and how often will become
a big issue. Of course, Russian and Ukrainian
literature both offer memorable and blunt
examples that I could use to respond to Mr
Poroshenko, but I will not do this out
of respect for the Ukrainian people and for our
common history and common faith.
someone wants to become a European, they should
first close their offshore accounts and then
talk about the good of their people. In this
respect, one quote comes to mind. I cannot quote
it exactly, word for word, but I can convey
Close to 170 years ago, Taras Shevchenko said,
“Ukraine has fought to the point where it
suffers more at the hands of its own children
than it ever did at the hands of the Poles”.
I hope that this period in the life of Ukraine
and its people will end.
We have a question from the Stavropol Territory.
One of our crews went to the author of this
question in Krasnokumskoye, a village that was
badly damaged by the May floods this year. We
have our colleague Mikhail Akinchenko there.
The weather has created many problems for people
in the Stavropol Territory. Even today we have
been bothered by rain. Of course, it is much
lighter than the showers that hit the region
in late May and resulted in the worst floods
in 50 years. Krasnokumskoye was one village that
was badly affected. The overflowing Kuma River
flooded some 400 buildings and household plots.
Locals recorded the flood on their smart phones.
You can see what happened at the site where we
are now. It was flooded for about three days,
and the water was about a meter deep or even
more. Three weeks later, many people still
cannot return to their houses. They are damp
and the walls are cracked, so it is unsafe
to live in them or even go inside, like this
house. The owner, Valentina Sokovskaya, called
Direct Line to ask a question. Valentina, what
are you doing now?
putting away the children’s stuff because it
will get more damp and smelly if I leave it
here. I will move it to save at least some
Valentina, I know that you have been promised
financial assistance for repairing this house
or for buying a new one. I see that you are not
doing anything yet. Why? You can share your
problem with the President, who can see and hear
you. Tell him.
President. There is not much to tell. I have not
received any money from the government.
The walls are cracking, the ceiling is shifting,
and the plaster is crumbling. The house has
cracked on all sides.
are waiting for the inspection commission; we
cannot do anything until it comes. But
the commission will not come until we pay
an architectural fee of 6,000 rubles. Also, we
must pay 1,800 rubles for certificates to prove
that we have nowhere to live. But there are four
owners in this house, which we bought with
maternity capital, and the total we have to pay
is high, about 15,000 rubles. We don’t know what
to do. We are living with friends, and we have
sent our children elsewhere. I have three
children, but I only have the youngest with me.
My daughter is in a health camp and my son is
with my relatives. But I don’t know how long
this can last. It’s good that it’s summer and we
have friends, but what will we do in the autumn
and winter? Frankly, we are at a loss.
We hope that maybe you will be able to help us
in one way or another.
Excuse me, what was your first name?
Valentina, what you have just said is very
strange. I simply cannot get my head around it.
Can I ask you whether you received
the 10,000-ruble allocation and 50,000 rubles
for partial loss of property?
No, we have not received anything so far.
Nothing at all?
I am not the only one in this situation. There
was no aid.
This is very strange, since the funds
for helping the affected families were
transferred from the federal budget to Stavropol
Territory. I would like to ask the Governor
of Stavropol Territory, where did the money go?
This is the first thing.
Secondly, I would like to ask the Prosecutor
General’s Office to check how the work is
Thirdly, the fact that you are asked to pay fees
to architectural agencies or for receiving
certificates of some kind is total nonsense.
are entitled to 10,000 rubles for your immediate
needs, another 50,000 rubles for partially lost
property, and 100,000 rubles for unrecoverable
property. The municipal, city and regional
authorities must deliver all the relevant
certificates free of charge, without shifting
the burden on to you. We have decided on these
allocations of 10,000, 50,000 and 100,000 rubles
in order to help people, and did not intend
to get the money back by charging people
for certificates. This is complete nonsense. Be
assured that we will look into this.
Thank you very much.
I hope that the Governor visits you as soon
We hope so too.
He should look into this situation.
Thank you very much. We will wait
for a response.
are now travelling from the Stavropol Territory
to Rostov-on-Don. Our colleague Anton Vernitsky
is reporting from outside the new Platov
Platov Airport, which is currently under
construction 30 kilometres from Rostov-on-Don,
was named after Matvei Platov, a prominent
chieftain of the Don Cossack Army and hero
of the 1812 war. The airport is 90 percent
completed and will receive its first flight
is this project unique for Russia? While other
Russian airports were upgraded or restructured,
this airport was built from scratch. Only three
years ago, there was nothing here. Now there is
a facility that can receive up to 5 million
passengers a year. It is equipped with
state-of-the-art equipment. Nine jet bridges.
Those who saw the old Rostov-on-Don airport
where our crew arrived will notice
the difference immediately. The old airport does
not even compare to this.
are we here? Almost 3,000 construction workers
and engineers are working here on a daily basis.
Alexander Serov is a future member of the staff.
He will be receiving passengers. For now, he
works at the old airport. He sent his question
to Direct Line, and we called him away from his
work and invited him here to ask his question
to the President in person.
Please, go ahead.
Good afternoon, Mr President.
Before I ask my question, I would like to invite
you to the opening of Platov Airport next
December. We really hope that the completion
of such an ambitious and perhaps unique project
will not go unnoticed by you.
Now, let me ask you a question. My colleagues,
my friends, a large number of passengers
and I cannot fly directly between Russian
cities. The itineraries require transit via
Moscow airports. Passengers have to make
a stopover in Moscow and lose precious time
or instead travel by train or by car. Are there
plans to expand the domestic flight network
to connect our regions directly?
Thank you very much.
Alexander, you have raised one of the most
urgent issues both as regards transport
accessibility and preserving the unity of our
territory. Our people must have the opportunity
to move within regions not via capital cities.
You are absolutely right.
However, regrettably, this network collapsed
completely here in the 1990s and early 2000s.
As you know, for several years we have been
working to restore it and put it on an entirely
different footing. However, distances in the Far
East and Eastern Siberia, where this issue is
particularly urgent, are great while
the population is not big enough to fill up
large airliners. So the economics
of interregional flights is difficult.
Everything has to be subsidised. But we have set
up, I think, seven public enterprises
to organise interregional domestic flights. This
is the first point. They are operating and I am
hoping we will expand their activities
and number to other regions of the Russian
Federation. This is the first part.
The second is the expansion of the airport
system, the number of airports. I think we have
230 or 232 airports in all, and a whole
programme to develop the airport network. We
will continue working on it and funding it.
The third matter is the availability of adequate
equipment because, let me repeat, even if you
build an airport… By the way, we will have
an absolutely new airport that will be built
from the ground up in the open country
for the first time in Russia’s recent history.
Importantly, it is being built using the latest
methods and technology. This is vital
for transport infrastructure both
at the national and regional levels.
However, for a flight from Rostov to Sochi,
for example, neither a Boeing nor Il-96 could be
filled up. We need small planes and they must be
of different haul – those that cover 400–500 km,
1,000–1,500 km or from 2,000 to 4,500 km. We are
now localising the production of small modern
aircraft that have earned a good reputation with
a view to producing them in Russia.
also want to bring back a slightly bigger
aircraft – the Il-114, I think. Regrettably,
the Government did not find the money and I will
reprimand them for this. They did not find
the funds to develop this aircraft that is
critical for us, considering our vast territory.
Nevertheless, we found an opportunity
and earmarked several dozen billion from
Rosneftegaz for the relevant programme designed
for several years. This aircraft will be
manufactured at a modern facility in the Moscow
suburbs and I hope very much that everything
will be done on time. In any event, I am almost
certain that we will make it. At any rate, we
know about this and will continue working
to fulfil this extremely important task.
Thank you, Rostov.
let us give the floor to our guests again. Olga
Ushakova's section, please.
President, we have representatives
of the creative intelligentsia here today, our
favourite actors, directors, who certainly have
questions for you, things they want to ask.
I would like to give the floor to Sergei
Bezrukov, National Artist of the Russian
Federation and artistic director of the Moscow
Gubernsky (Provincial) Theatre. Please go ahead.
Good afternoon, Mr President!
First, I would like to thank you for your work
on children's issues. On May 29, you signed
the Executive Order On the Decade of Childhood.
We are grateful for this, and for the support
of children's theatres. We have discussed this
at the forum in Omsk. Thank you so much. I hope
that it will be annual, because they do need
the question that really worries us,
my colleagues and me, I cannot help but ask it.
Something monstrous is happening, as I see it,
with regard to Alexei Uchitel’s film – I am
sitting next to him, but I will take it upon
myself to explain – the film Matilda.
At first, we thought it was a joke. But then,
when checks and inspections began, when people
who have not even seen it tried to ban it…
Also there was the Gogol Centre and the incident
with Kirill Serebrennikov. Kirill’s place was
searched, then the theatre, and in no time
rumours started about attacks on freedom
of speech, freedom of artistic expression,
freedom of creativity.
needs this? Certainly not you. But it looks like
someone is trying to create negative feelings
toward the authorities among cultural figures.
I would like to hear your opinion on this
We have a big and complicated country, with many
people with various views, various points
of view, various assessments. There used to be
many films featuring the imperial family
in former times, I mean they concerned, in one
way or another, the imperial family, Rasputin
and so on.
There was a lot of that. Those films were much
more hard-edged, I would say, than what your
neighbour did, Mr Uchitel. I know him
personally, and respect him as a person who is
very patriotic, for all I know about his views,
and who does very talented things. But I would
not like to interfere in his dispute with State
Duma deputy Poklonskaya. She also has the right
to her point of view.
said that they are trying to ban the film. No
one is trying to ban it. She has a stance, she
is trying to defend that stance by appealing
to various authorities, but no prohibitive
decisions have been made on this matter, as you
I am really counting on continued open dialogue
in our society, but I urge everyone to maintain
dialogue within the bounds of decency and, most
importantly, within the framework of the law.
Uchitel wants to say something. Yes, please.
I will not criticise or praise anyone.
President, the absurdity is that – well, one
certainly can express their point of view, when
they see something. But when I saw Ms
Poklonskaya on June 12, I invited her to see
the film. She refused. This is what I see
I would think that the Duma has, for example,
a Committee on Culture headed by the amazing
director, Stanislav Govorukhin, where they could
deal with this issue. But sending … Why waste
government money on sending the Prosecutor's
Office, the Treasury, the Accounts Chamber
to inspect us first? They all do the same thing.
We show the document that everything has already
been checked and everything is in order,
and they are doing the same thing.
I would say incitement to this is unacceptable.
Natalia Yuryeva is ready to join us.
Thank you colleagues.
This year, for the first time in real time we
can see how social network users are reacting
to our programme.
launched the hashtag #watching the line
a few days before the programme, and we now have
120,000 messages. Another 365 messages have come
in as I was speaking.
People say that the internet audience does not
watch TV, but we see here that this is just
an opinion and nothing more. The most active
users live in Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod Region,
and Krasnoyarsk Territory.
us see now on the screen the post that drew
the biggest number of likes. Here it is:
Krasnoyarsk residents are waiting to be
resettled from khrushchyovki
[Khrushchev-era 5-storey apartment blocks]. If
Muscovites oppose the plan, try the experiment
on us. Hashtag #watching the line.
I suggest we now take a video question that has
come to the call centre.
This is a video call via the OK Live service.
Hello, you are on. Please put your question
to the President.
Hello, Mr President.
I have a category-one disability. My name is
Klavdiya and I live in Orel. Could you tell me
please why those entitled to federal benefits
in this area are not receiving their medicines
in full? Why are we forced to fight for our
medical provisions in courts? For six months
now, I have not been receiving the medicines
I need: Cinacalcet, paracalcitol, and mircera.
I heard your question. This is odd to me too,
because the federal authorities have ensured
full funding for the acquisition of these
medicines. There could be some problems related
to delayed purchases and delays in…
I have appealed repeatedly to Vadim Potomsky
and Alexander Lyalyukhin, but I am always told
that under Federal Law 422, federal
beneficiaries will again receive 707 rubles
and 22 kopecks and they cannot provide us with
the full range of medicines for this money.
We will look into what they can and cannot
provide. There are some medicines and some
illnesses, the so-called orphan diseases, which
I know for certain receive federal funding
and are covered in full. Let me say again that
there can be glitches due to delays in holding
tenders and purchasing these medicines. But
there should be enough money for all of these
medicines. I promise – the main thing is
to remember where you are, I understand that you
are in Orel –we will definitely look into this
Thank you very much.
I ask another question?
Mr President, could you please enact a law so
that patients can be transported
for haemodialysis from their homes and back?
I remember that this issue was raised last year,
including the possibility for providing this
treatment at home.
As for transporting patients, I have to be
honest that this is the first time that this
issue has been put to me this way. I promise you
that we will definitely look into it. We will
also think about the transport issue. Of course,
this will require additional spending, but this
is a very sensitive topic and a very important
thing for people who are suffering from diseases
of this kind. Be assured that we will look into
this and do our best to find solutions.
Thank you very much. It was a great pleasure
and honour for me to be able to talk to you.
Thank you, Klavdiya, for this call.
I would like to thank the call centre.
And now we are live at the Baltic Shipyard in St
Petersburg with our reporter Dmitry Vitov.
We are at the Baltic Shipyard’s outfitting quay,
where the construction of a unique vessel, the Arktika
nuclear icebreaker, is about to be completed. It
will be a successor to the legendary Soviet
icebreaker which was the first surface ship
to reach the North Pole in 1970s. This new
icebreaker was floated out last year,
and the nuclear reactor has already been
Ryzhov, as you were telling me, what is its
overall propulsion power?
The icebreaker’s overall propulsion power is 60
So the foreign newspapers are right when they
call it the biggest and the most powerful
icebreaker in the world?
This is the largest and the most powerful
icebreaker in the world with the highest
Mr Ryzhov works in the shipbuilding department.
I hope that you will not take it as an offence
if I call you an elder of this plant. How many
years have you been working here?
I am one of the oldest employees here. I have
been working at this plant for about 50 years.
The history of the Baltic Shipyard goes back 160
years. Your career lasted one third of its
Ryzhov has told me that the Baltic Shipyard has
always been regarded as a unique experimental
facility. It built the first metal ships
and the first Russian submarine a hundred years
ago. It also built gunboats and battleships. It
did not stop working during the Great Patriotic
War, when it built barges for the Road of Life.
In the 1990s, which was yet another difficult
period in Russian history, the shipyard built
heavy nuclear-powered missile cruisers such
as the Pyotr Veliky, which are serving
in the navy.
The people I have talked with told me that
the most difficult time in the shipyard’s
history was the early 2000s, when private owners
almost bankrupted the shipyard, because they
only wanted the land on which it stands
on Vasilyevsky Island in the centre of St
Petersburg. They probably wanted to build luxury
housing or malls here. But the government has
saved the shipyard. Right?
Yes, you are right. The early 2000s was probably
the most difficult time for the plant and its
personnel. The number of people working
at the plant dropped from 12,000 at the best
of times to 3,000. The shipyard stopped building
high-tech nuclear-powered battleships and only
turned out unpowered bulk oil barges.
The situation is improving now, thanks
to the state and the President. We have a thick
portfolio of state contracts until 2021.
Mr Ryzhov, you can ask the President your
Good afternoon, Mr President.
I have a question from the Baltic Shipyard staff
and myself. What will happen to the plant? What
could we do in light of the Government’s Arctic
development plans and Arctic projects? Will you
use the shipyard’s rich, unique experience
of building nuclear-powered vessels? Do you have
modernisation, construction or further
development plans for the plant? Thank you.
The Baltic Shipyard is a flagship of our
shipbuilding industry. You just spoke about
the history of the shipyard. I know about
the difficulties the plant faced in the 1990s
and the early 2000s. When I worked in St
Petersburg, we tried to support it and make sure
it got orders. By the way, we managed to keep
the plant going, and it was also helpful
for the Navy. Those rough attempts to privatise
the Baltic Shipyard are, thank God, in the past.
I am talking about rough and fraudulent schemes.
Nowadays, the United Shipbuilding Corporation is
growing, and the shipyard is developing. And it
will keep developing. We saw you near the new
Arktika nuclear icebreaker. Our plan is
to build four icebreakers of this class. I think
you know about this. The first one is the Arktika;
then there will be the Sibir and the Ural.
They all have a high power of 60 MW. By 2025,
another icebreaker class will be developed, even
more powerful, twice as powerful as those that
I just mentioned, one of which you are
finishing. The new class will have a power
of 120 MW. If the first class breaks ice up
to three metres thick, the Lider will be
able to deal with unlimited amounts, any
thickness. All this is due to the latest
technology which the Baltic Shipyard is
mastering very fast thanks to its prior
experience and the opportunities of modern
Therefore, what can I say? We have included
the necessary funds in the budgets.
The prospects for the Lider are more
distant and the funding options are not yet
clear, but I am certain we can accomplish this.
I want to point out that nuclear icebreakers
of this class are not built anywhere else
in the world. Russia has them because we need
to operate in the Arctic. As you said, we need
to establish ourselves there, and we will do it.
There will be plenty of work for the shipyard.
I am certain the plant will not only retain its
team but also expand it. I wish you all
Mr President, I have a question coming from
the website of our programme: why are we so
focused on the Arctic? For the past 20 years, no
one spoke about it, and today we see Arctic
troops even at the Victory Day parade. A lot
of money is spent on the Arctic. Why is this
While we are on this subject, what else can
I say? I have already started talking about
this. The Arctic is an extremely important
region, which will ensure the future of our
country. Mikhail Lomonosov once famously said
that Russia would expand through Siberia. I can
say with confidence that Russia’s power
and capabilities will expand as we develop
the Arctic region.
As I mentioned at a meeting held in the Arctic,
by 2050 about 30 percent of all hydrocarbons
will be produced in the Arctic area. Some of our
major projects are already being implemented
there with NOVATEK building a plant, a company
town, an airfield, and a port in the Arctic
zone. Production has already begun
in the Arctic.
Therefore, from an economic point of view, this
is critically important. Especially so if
the climate is going to change. Despite a cold
spell in Moscow, the global warming trend will
continue, meaning that the navigation period
in the Arctic zone will get longer. In turn,
this means that the Northern Sea Route will be
used much more actively than now. The navigation
period will go from the current one or two
months to four and even five months.
The so-called non-regional powers are showing
an active interest in this region. That is
a good thing, and we are willing to cooperate
with them, but we must ensure our priority
I went to Franz Josef Land recently. The people
who work there told me that many tourists go
there, including those from other countries,
and some tour guides have already told tourists
that these islands used to be part of the Soviet
This should put us on alert, as it is our
territory. So, we need to ensure the use
of these routes, develop our economic activity
in these areas, and ensure our sovereignty over
these territories. Let us not forget about
the purely military aspect of the matter: it is
an extremely important region from the point
of view of ensuring our country's defence
I do not want to stoke any fears here, but
experts are aware that US nuclear submarines
remain on duty in northern Norway, the time it
takes a missile to reach Moscow is 15 minutes,
and we need to have a clear idea of what is
happening there. We must protect this shore
accordingly, and ensure proper border guarding.
On top of everything, from the point of view
of strategic weapons, the flight route
of the ground-based missiles located
in the United States passes precisely above
the North Pole. I hope it will never come
to that, but since we are aware of it, we just
need to make sure that the missile warning
system and the missile launch control system are
This is what the Arctic means to us. We had not
engaged in this work before not because it is
unimportant, but because we were unable
to afford it. We just let it go, as,
unfortunately, we did many other things that are
critically important for our country. Now we are
back to it, I hope, for good.
We can now go back to St Petersburg so that you
can ask a second question.
We have been able to get a glimpse of people
working at the plant. These are incredible
people. Not everyone would be able to work
in these conditions.
For example, welder Alexei Bogdanov has been
telling me that while you can learn the welding
profession elsewhere, it is only here that
shipyard welders work, on the building berths
and the outfitting quay.
Apart from professional matters, local workers,
just like St Petersburg residents in general,
have questions on broader issues. Ivan Brattsev
is a worker who builds icebreakers. Ivan, you
have a question. Go ahead.
Good afternoon, Mr President.
work in the Baltic Shipyard, where we build
the most powerful and the largest icebreakers
in the world. However, my question is not
related to industrial matters. Many residents
of this wonderful city, myself included, are
eager to hear your personal perspective
on the future of St Isaac's Cathedral.
As someone who was born and grew up in St
Petersburg, do you think that it would be right
for the city to keep the cathedral and preserve
it as a museum and an architectural landmark
or transfer it to the Russian Orthodox Church?
I did not expect this question, especially from
the Baltic Shipyard.
What I can say is that Russia is a secular
state. This is the way it was created, and it
will stay this way. This is my first point.
Second, after the October Revolution, the state
went to great lengths to destroy our spiritual
and religious roots, and was unwavering
and cruel in pursuing this objective. Many
churches were razed to the ground.
Back then the state attempted to come up with
a quasi-religion and replace the Bible with
the Moral Code of the Builder of Communism. It
did not work. Many cathedrals were demolished;
many priests perished, were killed, sent
to camps or executed by firing squads.
And the traces of what happened back then are
all around us. Here in Moscow, not far from
where we now are, the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour
was razed to the ground. It was not uncommon
for churches to be used as stables or workshops.
Thank God St Isaac’s Cathedral was spared.
No Advertising - No Government Grants - This Is Independent Media
know, of course I looked into this issue. It is
true that this cathedral never belonged
to the Church. Throughout its history it was
operated by the state. However, the Tsar used
to be the head of the Church, so if we see it
this way, the Church did own the building. It
was built as a cathedral, as a church, not
a museum. It was intended for worship,
for people to pray there.
And what did they do there in the Soviet days?
They set up Foucault’s pendulum to demonstrate
the rotation of the earth. In fact, it was
a museum of atheism, a quasi museum of atheism.
In a sense, it was a subtle mockery of people’s
religious feelings. However, hundreds
of thousands, millions of people, including
foreigners, visit it. There is no getting away
from this fact.
yes, we have a law passed, I believe, in 2010
on the transfer of religious buildings
to religious organisations, and we are supposed
to enforce it. At the same time, we have
international obligations and other laws that
ban the transfer of architectural landmarks
under UNESCO protection. There are some
disagreements, but I believe we can easily
overcome them if we ensure both museum activity
and the exercise of religious beliefs. I do not
want to jump ahead of myself, but such solutions
have been found in other countries. Say, St
Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican – people go
there and there are guided tours.
Therefore, it is important to depoliticise this
problem, to stop thinking about it as such,
to respect people’s religious feelings and never
forget that this building and structure was
built as a church, not as a museum.
Nevertheless, it should retain its function
as a museum, of course.
can these interrelations be fostered?
As a matter of fact, it is not so difficult.
Simply, there should be no agitation, no
exploitation of this issue. People should not be
provoked and used as a tool in some petty
internal political squabbling.
The call centre again, Maria Gladkikh.
Yes, colleagues, our statistics show that women
are more active: 62 percent of those who have
called are representatives of the fair sex.
And now an urgent question from Svetlana
Romanova in Chelyabinsk.
Good afternoon, you are on. We can hear you.
Good afternoon, Mr President,
I have a vegetable plot. I have been using it
since 1981. A cottage was built there. No
construction regulations were violated.
A natural gas pipeline is more than 100 metres
away from the plot.
In 2014, a bylaw was passed extending
the exclusion zone from 100 metres to 150.
As a result, many vegetable gardeners received
a court summons and were ordered to tear down
their houses without compensation. Is that
legal? Will there be a law to protect us?
Well, I am returning to the subject
of Balashikha once again. Housing was built near
the rubbish dump that had been there
for decades. Now residential units were built
near pipelines. Then they decided to expand
the restricted area and are trying to evict
residents. Is this fair or not? This is unfair.
I think this law must be changed. In any event,
those people that already live in these
buildings must be left alone. Of course, it is
necessary to do everything for their safety, but
they must be left alone.
is possible to prohibit the construction of new
buildings in the 150-metre area, but those who
already live in the 100-metre area must be left
alone. I will do everything to encourage
the adoption of this decision.
We have been on the air for a third hour
running. Natalya Yuryeva is collecting video
messages, among other things, in the call
Our next question comes from Jeremy Bowling from
America, who not only sent it to our editorial
office but also posted it on YouTube. There were
heated debates in the comments on this video
call – will we put it on the air or not. Even
bets were placed. I betted on the positive
answer. Just kidding. By the way, Jeremy Bowling
said himself that we were unlikely to put it
on the air. But let us still listen to it.
Greetings, Mr Putin. My name is Jeremy Bowling.
I live in Mesa, Arizona in America. I am a big
supporter of you. I am very pro-Russian
and I wish you much health and success in your
life. My question to you is this. As an American
who sits here in America and sees the racist
Russian phobia running crazy in my country, what
advice would you give me to help set the record
straight, to help my fellow Americans understand
that Russia is not the enemy?
with, I am very grateful to you for this call.
And I can tell you as the current head
of the Russian state that I know the attitudes
of our people. We do not consider America our
enemy. Moreover, twice in history when we were
going through very hard times, we pooled our
efforts; we were allies in two world wars.
In the past, the Russian Empire played
a substantial role in helping America gain
independence and supported the United States. We
see that Russophobia is running high in America
and think this is primarily a result
of the escalating political infighting.
I do not think I have the right to give you any
advice. I simply want to thank you for this
stance. We know that we have very many friends
in the United States. My American colleagues
told me so, and public opinion polls show
the same results. At any rate, those polls taken
a month ago show that we have many friends
there. True, regrettably such hysteria is bound
to affect the frame of mind, but let me assure
you that there are also very many people
in Russia who have deep respect
for the achievements of the American people
and are hoping that eventually our relations
will get back on track, in which both we
and the United States are extremely interested.
People in this studio also have questions about
our relations with the United States.
Olga Pautova has the floor.
I suggest talking on this subject some more,
considering that when we were preparing for this
programme and speaking to our guests, it became
clear that this is an issue of concern
to practically everyone. Even today, shortly
before we were to begin, international issues
were being discussed up until the last moment.
I am giving the floor to a person whose question
is of concern not only to Russians, but
to everyone in the world, without a doubt.
Konstantin Remchukov, Nezavisimaya Gazeta
Good afternoon, Mr President. I would like
to talk about Russian-American relations. One
of the current trends, as you and an American
guest have said, is that bilateral relations are
deteriorating and there is Russo phobia along
with daily reports about new anti-Russia
initiatives, including sanctions. At the same
time, there is a growing demand not only
for stabilising but also for improving
At a Senate hearing the day before yesterday, US
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said something
to the effect that every time he met with his
foreign colleagues since his appointment, they
asked him to stabilise relations with
the Russians. He indicated that his colleagues
from the Middle East and Southeast Asia had
the same request. This is how he explained
the need to act during a hearing on the 2018
State Department budget.
In three weeks’ time, the G20 will convene
in Hamburg, where you are to meet with US
President Trump. Is it possible that these talks
will help prod this negative trend towards
a more positive one and possibly even towards
a radical improvement in our relationships with
the United States? In what areas and on what
issues can Russian-US cooperation be productive
and mutually beneficial? I believe that these
questions are of concern not only to people
in Russia and the United States but many other
countries as well.
with experience and well-acquainted with
the subject, you know as well as I do the areas
in which we can work together with the United
States. This includes, above all, control over
non-proliferation of weapons of mass
destruction. We are the biggest nuclear powers
and so our cooperation in this area is
absolutely natural. This is an area of crucial
importance and concerns not just the North
Korean issue but other regions too.
Then there is the fight against poverty,
fighting environmental damage and so on. We know
the position the current US administration has
taken on the Paris Agreement, but President
Trump is not rejecting discussion on the issue.
Cursing and trading barbs and insults with
the US administration would be the worst road
to take because we would reach no agreement
at all in this case, but it makes no sense
to seek agreements without the US, which is one
of the biggest emitter countries. We must work
together to fight poverty in the world.
The number of people earning a minimum income
has increased in Russia, but there is
a disastrous situation in many parts
of the world, and this is one of the sources
of radicalism and terrorism, this poverty around
the world, and we must decide together how
to address this problem. Here, we must work with
our other partners too, work with China, India
By the way, we worked together with the United
States to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue,
and we did reach an agreement, we did find
a solution. There are positive examples
of cooperation then. The previous US
administration directly recognised
the substantial role that we played in resolving
this issue. We can reach agreements and work
together then. Of course we can.
On the Syrian problem and the Middle East
in general, it is clear to all that no progress
will be made without joint constructive work. We
hope greatly too for the United States’
constructive role in settling the crisis
in southeast Ukraine. A constructive role,
as I said. We see then that there are many areas
in which we must work together, but this depends
not only on us. We see what is happening
in the United States today. I have said before
and say again now that this is clearly a sign
of an increasingly intense domestic political
struggle, and there is nothing that we can do
here. We cannot influence this process. But we
are ready for constructive dialogue.
I see someone has a question in Vera Krasova’s
sector. Let us go there.
Thank you, Dmitry. Russia-US relations are
of interest to representatives
of the machine-building industry. We have Alexei
Bakulin from Volgograd Region in our studio.
Good afternoon, you have the floor.
Good afternoon, Mr President.
mentioned the aggravation of the internal
political conflict in the United States. Indeed,
the world is following the conflict between
President Donald Trump and former FBI Head James
Comey like a television drama. As is customary,
“Russian influence” has been detected. What is
your take on this situation, and what are its
I am not familiar with the details of Mr Comey’s
testimony, but I am aware of certain things,
of course. What are my thoughts on it?
The first thing that caught my attention was
that former FBI director said that he believes
that Russia interfered in the US election
process. He did not provide any evidence,
as usual, but he said there were attempts
“to shape the way we think, vote, and act.” Is
that not the way it is all over the world? What
about the unending US propaganda and funding
of US-oriented NGOs? The funds are allocated
directly to this end. Is this not an attempt
to influence our minds and our actions during
election campaigns? It goes on year after year.
Take a globe, give it a spin, and point your
finger randomly. You will point to a place where
the United States has interests and has most
likely intervened. I know this from
my conversations with almost all leaders
and heads of state. They just do not want
to fall out with the Americans. No one talks
about it openly, but everyone is saying the same
Therefore, there is nothing unusual here. What
do they want? Do they want everyone to bow down?
We have our own opinion, and we openly express
it. This is not some kind of subversive
activity. We simply express our point of view.
This is my first point.
Secondly, he said that he has no evidence of us
interfering in the vote count. Thank God
Next, he said quite unexpectedly that he had
written down a conversation with the President,
and then passed along this conversation
to the media through a friend. It sounds
and looks very strange when the head
of an intelligence agency writes down
a conversation with the commander-in-chief,
and then passes it to the media through
a friend. How then is the FBI director different
from Mr Snowden? In that case, he is not
the head of an intelligence agency, but a human
rights activist who takes a certain position.
By the way, if he is persecuted in any way
for this, we will be willing to grant him
political asylum in Russia as well. He should
The call centre is receiving so many questions
that I simply have to pass the floor to Natalya
call centre is about to reach its peak capacity.
We have received more than 2 million calls.
Every minute, our operators receive 1,700 video
Social media is on fire, especially the OK Live
service. About one thousand people are watching
the live broadcast and waiting
for the opportunity to ask the President
a question. Here is a question from one of them.
Hello, you are on the air. Please, go ahead with
your question, and do not forget to introduce
My name is Andrei Bol, and I am from Nakhodka
in the Primorye Territory. I am worried about
coal dust, since coal is shipped through here
in the open. How are we supposed to live?
Of course, this is not good. We have to look
at how the work in port facilities is organised.
It is probably a tradition to have coal
transported through the city from
or to the port. We have to look at who owns
the port, and how it operates.
Could you please tell me where you are? Where is
Near the Primorye Territory.
But what port are you talking about?
The one in Nakhodka.
Nakhodka? Very well. We will look into it,
and how it all works. We will try to respond
in such a way as to minimise impacts
on the people and the environment.
What is your name?
Ok, Andrei, we will look into it with your help,
and get in touch later. Leave your contact
details, and you will tell me later what
measures were taken and whether people living
in the area noticed any difference.
Thank you very much.
Thank you for your call.
And now let us see what people are writing
on the internet with the #СмотрюЛинию
[#WatchingLine] hashtag. For example, we already
have 171,773 comments on social networks. I will
ask you to show one of the most recent posts.
Let us take this one, “Reading the #СмотрюЛинию
[#WatchingLine], I see how many concerned young
people we have, who understand that the social
lift is first and foremost an opportunity to be
heard and to influence the situation
in the country.” User Natalya Pochinok, thank
you very much for this comment.
Colleagues, could we now put through a call from
Odnoklassniki? Our editors have contacted OK
Live users. Let us continue looking at what
people are writing on social media.
They will show us another #СмотрюЛинию
[#WatchingLine] comment: “I am watching
the Direct Line. The President started talking
about the main things, but I think there is no
topic in today’s Russia more important than
fighting corruption; this disease has
metastasised and hinders development in many
areas.” Colleagues, you have the floor.
Another important issue that worries our TV
viewers is the situation with the so-called
optimisation of healthcare, Mr President. We
have sent a film crew to one of the people who
complained. We will now connect to Murmansk
We are in the Arctic, in the centre of Kola
Peninsula, the town of Apatity in Murmansk
Region. The town appeared in the 1960s near
a major deposit of apatite ore.
With a population of more than 50,000, the town,
according to local residents, is currently
struggling with problems of healthcare
accessibility, which actually means
the inaccessibility of healthcare. A clear
example of this is now behind me –
the unfinished building of a new hospital.
Physicians were to move here from the old
building. This is an abandoned nine-storey
building practically in the centre of town, with
the walls deteriorating and the floors falling
apart, and there is no way the construction
could be resumed, but the local residents
complain of a shortage of doctors.
I have here Darya Starikova. She is a very
courageous young woman. Darya has a serious
disease and practically lives off painkillers.
Several days ago, Darya wrote to Direct Line,
and it was a real cry for help. Naturally, we
could not ignore her. So we are here for Darya
to directly address the head of state.
Darya, please go ahead.
Good afternoon, Mr President.
I am Darya Starikova, and I am 24. I was
diagnosed with stage four cancer. Because
the original diagnosis was intervertebral
osteochondrosis, the time for effective therapy
As I received treatment for my back, with
injections and massage, I ended up in hospital
with a haemorrhage. The diagnosis was made
at the hospital. Mr President, we have a lack
of specialists who can make diagnoses in time.
maternity hospital was closed, our surgical
department was closed, our cardiology department
was closed, and everything was moved
to the neighbouring city of Kirovsk. We have
to go there to get medical care. On top of that,
they send us for complicated operations
and tests to the city of Murmansk, which is
a five-hour drive from us. Not everyone can
afford it, and not everyone can go there.
I am asking not for myself, I am asking
for the city, for our residents, for all
the people who live here. I am asking you
to help restore the hospital, restore
everything. You know, sometimes our “emergency
medical service” arrives too late. We have only
the admission department left. They bring people
[to the hospital] too late.
My friend’s mother did not make it
to the hospital. She died of a heart attack
on the way in an ambulance. She was not even 50.
People are worried. This has happened
repeatedly. We have often raised the hospital
are asking you, please help. We want to live,
not survive. We are pleading for help. We need
everything in our city to get back to normal.
Dashenka, look, I do not usually speak about
my personal affairs and my private life, but
now, looking at you, I feel that I must tell you
that the same thing happened to my father.
was being treated for back pain. They gave him
massages, heat treatment and so on. My mother
told me that my dad was crying out in pain
at night. It was only then that I had him moved
to another hospital. There, he went through
everything that you are going through.
even at that stage, treatment was found. This
was many years ago now, but quite effective
treatment was found, and he departed this life
not because of the illness with which he was
diagnosed. So, I urge you not to lose hope.
For my part, I will give this my attention
and look into what I can do to help you
On the subject of medicine, I can say to you,
to all present here, and to all of our citizens,
that we are very well aware that there are
problems with medicine everywhere, and patients
everywhere are critical about what is happening
in this area. This is the case practically all
around the world.
was for this reason that the previous US
president began carrying out reforms in this
sector and passed a law that drew a lot
of criticism, and now the new president has
essentially repealed this reform. Similar things
are taking place in Europe.
problems are no fewer, and are perhaps even
greater. Nonetheless, over these past three
years we have built and opened ten times more
new medical facilities, mostly medical centres,
than over the previous period. We built 2000
medical facilities over the past three years.
There are problems related to a lack
of specialists in some areas, and this is why
the waiting lists remain.
The queues look different now though, because it
is not a case of people queueing up
in the waiting room to see the doctor. Rather,
they queue for numbers now. This is no better,
though, and we need to move over to electronic
queues, and make sure that they work
Finally, most importantly, we must ensure
access. This is the top priority for medicine
today – to guarantee access to medical aid.
In your case, of course, we will take a very
close look at the situation. I do not know what
the healthcare managers were thinking in this
region, including in Apatity.
Apatity is a mining town and it is clear that
people work there in difficult conditions
and require particular attention from medical
personnel. They probably took the purely
formalistic view that it was not far to travel
from Apatity to Kirovsk.
Nevertheless, people are encountering problems
that you have raised. We will definitely look
into this. Either we need to build this
hospital, or we need to upgrade and reopen
the old hospital. I promise you that we will
work on this.
Dasha, we will look into the situation with your
Thank you, Apatity. Let us wish Dasha a swift
Best wishes to you and get well soon.
Messages and requests the call centre has
received include those from people asking
for assistance with joining the army. We have
never seen such a surge in the number of people
wishing to serve.
Volgograd is on the line but we will come back
to it later. We are getting back to the studio
and my colleague Nailya Asker-zade.
Thank you, Tatyana.
have young professionals from the WorldSkills
movement in the studio. It is an international
association that improves professional training
For example, Arkady Bodryagin from Chelyabinsk
is 19 years old. He has already received a medal
for professionalism in hospitality at a European
Arkady, what is your concern?
Mr President, good afternoon. First of all,
thank you for supporting our movement. We are
cooperating closely with large corporations but
we are also interested in working with small
and medium-sized businesses.
you give us advice on how to establish
a reliable channel with them?
And one more question. WorldSkills members are
pragmatic people and we care about our future.
In light of this, do you plan to increase
the retirement age? If yes, when?
Thank you very much.
Answering the first question about building
relationships with small and medium-sized
businesses, you know our SMEs are developing
despite all the issues that were mentioned
before – the gentleman behind you pointed out
business loans as one of them. However, they are
developing, maybe not as fast as we would hope.
It is particularly good that hi-tech SMEs are
have a new export item, IT technology worth $7
billion, which is unprecedented. Our IT exports
used to be zero. This industry is developing
at a rapid pace.
Here, first of all we need to pay attention
to these successfully developing companies. We
have some. This is my first point. They exist
Secondly, there is something I would like
to draw your attention to, something I could
advise. I will say this, and they will now hear
it too. Our large companies need to develop
whole networks of small and medium-sized
enterprises around them. They should not simply
buy what they need abroad when they can rely
on our small high-tech companies. Therefore, you
need to reach out to small and medium-sized
businesses through the companies where you work
As for the second question, you know that we are
actively discussing the possibility of raising
the retirement age. Some experts believe that
increasing the retirement age is unavoidable,
citing other countries’ experience, including
neighbouring countries such as Ukraine,
and nearly all the others, Belarus for instance,
let alone Europe. With Europe, the comparison
would be weak, bearing in mind the life
expectancy there, so we had better take
the neighbouring countries. But they have
already made this decision, and we have not.
I think the issue should be treated with great
In case there are any rumours that the decision
has already been taken: no, it has not. However,
it is indeed being discussed; it is being
discussed at an expert level
and at the government level. Experts believe
that if we do not do this, the level of pension
coverage will go down, meaning pensions will
shrink. At the same time, the workforce –
workers having to collectively raise money
to provide for the pensioners, so to speak –
will decline due to demographic problems
and structural changes. The number of unemployed
will increase, and the number of people with
jobs will fall.
These are the realities that we are facing. We
must bear this in mind. Yet, such decisions
should be made in a balanced manner, without any
fuss or haste.
note another issue too. We have had many
messages from pensioners who continue to work.
They say that if the pension age is suddenly
raised, whenever this may be, we should be aware
that people are already facing problems now.
person, aged 52, cannot find work anywhere. This
is an appeal from Moscow, a message from
a carpenter. Then there is a woman from
the Kaluga Region who says that she is 42, but
already at this age she is not getting any job
offers and she is worried about her future
In this area, we need to find solutions
to a different issue, namely, the question
of ensuring timely and high quality retraining
programmes for people, human resource retraining
need to ensure human resource mobility, in other
words, give people the opportunity to move from
one region to another. But they cannot just
arrive and live at the railway station. We must
think about where they will live and prepare
the relevant infrastructure. This is a big,
multi-faceted and multi-dimensional undertaking.
are aware of this problem and are working on it.
It is particularly important in the so-called
single industry towns. Plans have already been
drafted and are being implemented. Of course, it
is clear that we must intensify our efforts
in this direction.
Let’s move from the pension age issue
to the question of the military conscription
age. When we looked at the messages, we saw
cases where people complain that they have been
turned down for the military on the grounds
of age, but they want to join the army. They ask
you, what can they do in this case? There are
many people who want to do military service.
have Volgograd on the line now. Right at this
moment, new recruits are taking their military
oath, and our colleague Dmitry Petrov is there.
Hello. We are here at the Mamayev Kurgan,
at the foot of the Motherland monument.
The remains of 35,000 soldiers and officers
killed during the Battle of Stalingrad are
buried here. This is sacred soil and a sacred
Today, the new recruits of the 20th
Guards Independent Carpathian-Berlin Red Banner
Order of Suvorov II degree Motor-Rifle Brigade
are taking their oath of loyalty. This is
a decorated unit with rich military traditions,
and, of course, it is a great honour
for the young soldiers to take their oath
at this site.
see how the young men come forward and before
the ranks pronounce the words of the oath before
the Russian Federation flag and the unit’s
banner. Gathered here are those who care most
about these young men: their parents, relatives,
loved ones and friends. They have come from
various parts of the country, from wherever
the young men have come from. This occasion is
tinged with sadness for them, of course, but it
is a celebration too.
Let’s meet them. Hello, please introduce
yourself, which soldier is yours?
afternoon, my name is Vladimir. Today is
a notable day. Today, my son is taking the oath
of allegiance at this great place. I have come
from Sergiyev Posad in Moscow Region. My son
made his own decision to serve in the Armed
Forces after studying at a medical college –
the Third Medical College – for two years,
and he declared his wish to serve his
Motherland. As a reserve officer, I welcomed his
Vladimir, this is Direct Line with
the President. Moscow can see and hear us,
and you can ask the head of state any question.
This is very unexpected, of course. Mr
President, as a reserve officer, I am interested
to know how our Armed Forces are doing in Syria
and would like to ask what lessons our Armed
Forces have learned and what the prospects are
for our troops there.
First, Vladimir, I would like to congratulate
you and your son on taking the oath
of allegiance today. This is a great event
in the life of any man, any Russian citizen,
especially those of us who voluntarily choose
this path in life – serving in the Russian Armed
Forces and serving our nation.
regarding your question. What lessons have been
learned, and what have our Armed Forces gained
from the operation in Syria? There are several
Firstly, this is of great value for our defence
industrial sector. The use of the newest weapon
systems has made it possible for us
to understand how they work on the battlefield
and improve the quality of these advanced weapon
knew that our weapons are good anyway, but when
we saw how they perform on the battlefield –
this is an entirely different story.
Furthermore, representatives of the enterprises
go to places where these weapons are used, see
how they work, make adjustments, and this is not
just some fine-tuning but serious, thorough
work. This is as far as the defence industry is
Regarding the Armed Forces as such, I can say
that this experience in using our Armed Forces
in combat conditions and with the newest weapons
is precious. I am saying this without any
know, even our Armed Forces have acquired a new
quality. Some subunits were created only
recently and were employed for the first time,
and they are very effective.
As for what we plan to do there, we are going
to foster a peaceful political settlement
between all the parties to the conflict. Our
task in the near future is to upgrade the level
and combat capability of the Syrian Armed Forces
and proceed to the facilities that we have
created in Syria, including in Hmeimim (Hmeimim
airport) and the Tartus naval base, leaving
the Syrian forces to operate effectively
and achieve required results on their own.
However, if necessary, we would be able
to provide them with operational support
in fighting terrorist groups, including
by employing our combat aviation. These are our
Ok, let us continue. It is time now to go back
to the call centre. Maria, how many calls have
you received so far?
As of now, we have received 1,345,000 calls
and 474,000 SMS messages for Vladimir Putin.
Twenty-five percent of the callers are aged 35
to 55 and 63 percent are over 56.
I do not know the age of the next caller but
the editors are telling me he is from Crimea.
Alexander Bochkarev has a question that bothers
not only Crimean residents but also tourists.
Good afternoon, Mr President. This is Alexander
Bochkarev. My question is: will the Kerch Strait
Bridge be built within the timeframe you
promised? It is very important that by the time
it is complete there are convenient access
Construction of the Kerch Strait Bridge is going
according to schedule and even a little ahead
of schedule. I will not go into how far ahead
now, but at the moment there is no doubt that
the project will be completed on time and with
the proper quality, which is most important.
The cost of the bridge is known, it is a bit
over 200 billion. But access roads are
a separate and pressing issue. We need to make
sure that roads are built on the Crimea side,
the Kerch side and the Taman side.
The work has begun in general. We will keep
a very close eye on it. I hope this project will
also be finished successfully. Without access
roads it would be ridiculous. The lack of access
roads would create a bottleneck on either side.
We cannot allow this to happen.
I see we got a question on Odnoklassniki. Irina
Shpakovich from the Khabarovsk Territory is
asking: “The bridge over the Kerch Strait is
almost finished. Will the bridge to Sakhalin
ever be built?”
True, the speculation started long time ago,
there were plans back in the 1930s
and the 1950s. Under Stalin they were thinking
about this and even drew up plans, but they were
never acted on.
we are reviving these plans and thinking about
this issue. Of course, connecting Sakhalin with
the continent would be very helpful
for restoring the territorial integrity
of the country.
would be possible in this case to organise
the movement of goods from Asia to Europe via
Russia and thus to enhance the importance
of the Trans-Siberian Railway. However, building
a bridge is not enough. In this case, it would
be necessary to expand the Trans-Siberian
Railway although it needs expansion anyway.
Naturally, it is necessary to involve
the interested states – and they exist –
in funding the project. In general, in tentative
estimates the cost should be lower than that
of the Crimean Bridge – about 286 billion. These
are preliminary estimates. However, this is not
enough because apart from a bridge crossing, it
is necessary to build access routes
and the entire road interchange.
By the way, there were proposals, which are
being studied now, to build a tunnel rather than
a bridge, and this is also possible. A decision
has not yet been made but we are thinking about
Irina got her answer.
us continue talking about the issues raised
by our television audience
will now hook up to the remote city of Nyagan
in Khanty-Mansi Area. Our TV crew went there
in response to a message from Enzhi Barsukova.
Anton Lyadov, please.
Good afternoon, Moscow!
work in a shift camp in Nyagan. It is hard
to believe, but these trailers built for workers
in Soviet times as temporary accommodation are
not being used as sheds or shacks. They have
become permanent homes for whole families.
For instance, this one has been here since 1979,
that is, for almost 40 years. There is no indoor
plumbing. There is an outhouse and the residents
had to build each one themselves. They used
washtubs or went to their friends’ place
for a shower. Today some of them have baths
in their trailers but not all. However, there is
no sewerage and when they take a shower
the water goes right into the ground through
wooden boards and their trailers are gradually
sinking into the ground.
are entering this 40-year-old trailer. It has no
hot water in summer – only cold water and if you
have no filters, it is brownish with rust.
Conversely, there is no cold water in winter.
The problem is that the two pipes – the heating
main and the water pipe – run alongside each
other and one warms the other, so sometimes we
get boiling water from the tap. Anastasia has
lived here since she was two. Recently she gave
birth to her baby Arseny. Vladimir and Irina
have lived here for 35 years. Enzhi Barsukova
who sent the message to you has lived here
for 30 years.
Barsukova, in winter temperatures fall to minus
50 C. What do you do not to freeze to death?
Come on, I will show you. Residents of our shift
camp put blankets on doors, insulate doorways
with blankets and old clothes. They use
everything they can to keep it warm.
Unfortunately, we got disconnected.
The equipment fails under the impact of this
Yes, the equipment could not cope with this
shocking story but we can see what is happening
there. Vladimir Putin: Wait, maybe we can
get connected again. No?
try to fix it.
For now, let us switch to another city, where
our film crew is also working – they travelled
there in response to a complaint sent to you, Mr
here is Izhevsk and our colleague Pavel Krasnov.
This is the city of Izhevsk. One of the many
questions concerning housing and utilities
services in general or dilapidated housing
in particular arrived from here. How old this
housing is, you can see for yourself.
This is a wooden barrack, of which Russia,
unfortunately, still has thousands. But this
particular barrack in Izhevsk’s Proyezd
Chapayeva is really in a terrible state. I think
that the camera, the video does not even fully
convey how it all looks in reality. This barrack
has already been listed as dilapidated, but
people still had to complain to Direct Line,
to the head of state.
asked your question. Please tell us what
happened. The President is listening.
Hello, Mr President!
My name is Anastasia.
can see the conditions we live in. These
apartments are damp in the summer and cold
in the winter. We have to keep the heating stove
going around the clock, but warm air still seeps
out through the cracks in the walls. Children
are constantly ill, and in each apartment there
are two or three children. But the worst thing
is, we are afraid that the ceiling will
collapse, God forbid, on the children,
and on adults. Our house was already classified
as dilapidated and put on a waiting list
for demolition and relocation in 2029. Mr
President, how can we live in such conditions
for another 12 years?
What can I say? Ridiculous, of course.
Appropriate resources have been allocated from
the federal budget for relocation; we have
extended this programme for relocating people
from dilapidated housing, and yours is clearly
dilapidated, so what could I say. I can imagine
what is happening in your region, and I know
the amount of money allocated for relocating
people from dilapidated houses. On the whole,
the programme is progressing well around
the country, and at a good pace, but it is
completely ridiculous and unacceptable
to postpone relocation for decades.
I will visit your place. I plan to be
in Izhevsk, and I will drop by and see what is
happening. We will talk in person there, ok?
Agreed. I have a business trip to the region
planned, so I will drop by. I was in such
houses, as you know. This is a big problem, but
for me there is nothing unusual there. This is
why we developed the programme for relocating
people from dilapidated housing. By the way, we
have many such houses, unfortunately. They make
up approximately two percent of the country’s
total housing stock, about 80 million square
metres, as much as the area of new housing built
in the whole country every year. This problem is
huge and painful, but it needs to be dealt with.
And we will continue dealing with it.
I will drop by, and we will talk.
Such reports are coming not only from Izhevsk,
I am aware of it.
We have many from different regions. People live
in hazardous wooden houses in Kirov Region,
and many others.
are now back to Nyagan in Khanty-Mansi Area. Let
us try again. Are you back, Anton?
Yes, we can hear you. Indeed, the connection is
Barsukova was just telling us how the people
manage to survive in 40-year-old trailers
in -50C during the winters.
We use sawdust as insulating material for our
houses. This is our way of keeping the cold out.
You have been trying to resolve this issue
for many years now. Now, the President can hear
and see you. You can talk to him directly.
have a programme in the area to demolish
the trailers and resettle their residents, but
it is a fairly drawn-out process. I came here
when I was young. I am now retired but still do
some work for a living. I raised two children
in these harsh conditions. How much longer will
the people in the North live in such conditions?
We ask you to speed up the demolition
and resettlement programme in Nyagan.
I am aware of this problem. You may have noticed
that the issue of relocating people from these
trailers in the Baikal-Amur Mainline (BAM) area
was raised for the first time in 2010, when
I was Prime Minister, and then we even had
a direct conference call with Tynda.
The resettlement programme was adopted, and we
resettled, I believe, 9,000 families. Suddenly,
we found out that there were 10,000 more. That
is the way we crunch the numbers, I guess.
Nonetheless, we will continue with this
With regard to trailer parks, the snag is,
and you are aware of it, that they are not
counted as housing in the books, and that is why
they did not make it into the run-down housing
relocation programme. Nonetheless, such
a programme was put together, and local
authorities came up with about 1,500 families.
According to my information, more than 500
families have been relocated, and 1,000 plus
families await their turn.
Firstly, the Housing programme is properly
funded for this, including for 2017. We will
keep allocating these funds until we achieve our
goal. We will absolutely achieve it, and,
of course, we will try to speed it up. What do
we need to do, and what will I ask my colleagues
in the regions to do? We need to have
an accurate assessment of the scope of this
plight, and how many people need to be
relocated. One and a half thousand is
an understatement, I think. We should avoid
the situation we had in the BAM area where we
originally had 9,000 families and then 10,000
more appeared as if out of nowhere. The funds
must be set aside in advance. So, please make
sure we have accurate estimates of the number
of people who need help and support.
will continue this programme and try to speed it
up. To reiterate, the funds have been allocated.
Thank you, Nyagan. This city is far away but
Channel One viewers, for example, know one
of our best KVN (Club of the Happy
and Inventive) teams. It competes despite
the conditions people live in, and it is one
of the jolliest and funniest teams. It has made
it to the finals. Evidently our people make very
good jokes when life is not so easy. Also,
by the way, Maria Sharapova was born there,
I understand she lived mainly in Sochi.
But she was born there. Nyagan is proud
are all proud.
As a matter of fact, this year, our channel has
received a lot of complaints about dilapidated
housing and generally the condition
of residential buildings from various regions,
and you know what, some people say it in so many
words, comparing their problems with what is
going on in Moscow.
Some of them write directly, frankly: “We are
envious of Moscow’s programme of tearing down
five-story walk-ups from the Krushchev era.”
As we know, yesterday, the State Duma approved
the housing relocation draft law on its third
reading. In keeping with your directives,
Muscovites’ proposals were taken into account.
What do you think about this programme as it
It is important for me what Muscovites think
about it. This is what matters. It is important
what people who live in these buildings think
about it. And how can that be found out? Through
a poll. That is my first point.
Second, it is important for me that citizens’
rights are not violated during the programme’s
implementation – above all their property
Third, it is very important how it will be done.
The Moscow city authorities tell me they have
planned out everything and new buildings will be
built within walking distance, practically
in the same spots, literally next to them.
However, we know what often happens in practice:
the floor is wrong, the windows are on the wrong
side, and so on. Of course, you cannot foresee
everything. A flexible approach is called
This is what I think and what I urge my Moscow
colleagues to do. I get a sense that this is
the line the Moscow Mayor intends to take. It is
important that he gets his subordinates
to follow precisely the same approach.
What about the renovation in general?
By the way, I perfectly understand people’s
sentiments in other regions. I know this. While
preparing for today's Direct Line I saw many
questions from residents of other regions,
I have not heard them yet, but maybe I will.
I can say even now that I know the sentiment,
“Please do it here, Muscovites do not want it,
but we do.” This is what it is like. I want it
to be clear.
This is about the housing stock in Moscow; 10–15
years from now, it will definitely turn into
hazardous housing, and Moscow will be
in the same amount of trouble as many other
we do not start doing this on time, we will face
a problem that will be very difficult
to resolve, maybe even impossible, and then
people will really start to suffer.
will get a problem right in the centre
of Moscow, and it is a huge one. We need to do
this in a timely manner. Once again, I want
to emphasise, I hope that the programme will be
implemented within the framework of the adopted
law, and with consideration for people’s
However, in some buildings, the majority
of residents refuse to participate in this
programme. They do not want to, and it is
impossible to force people – they cannot be
dragged into this programme by force. Where
the overwhelming majority agrees, those who
disagree should respect the opinion
of the majority, I repeat once again, with due
respect for their rights and legitimate
The guests of our studio are ready to join
the discussion on renovation. I give the floor
to Olga Ushakova.
Thank you. We will gladly join the conversation,
because we have among our guests State Duma
deputy Galina Khovanskaya who heads
the committee on housing policy and housing
and utilities services, and sits on a working
group that directly monitors the situation
In addition, as far as I know, you are a fourth
generation Muscovite; you were born here
and lived all your life in Moscow. Yet,
the Russian capital is not the only place your
heart bleeds for.
Of course not. Good afternoon, Mr President.
Still, if renovation in Moscow is a success, do
you think we need to draft a similar law
for the whole country? It could be helpful
for those regions that completed the move-out
from hazardous housing ahead of schedule,
and there are such requests already. What do you
Of course, I would like to do this. But
as I said, and you also know what the volume
of our hazardous housing is – two percent
of the total housing stock, a huge, colossal
problem. This is my first point.
Second. Moscow is funding this programme out
of its own budget and will spend 100 billion
roubles a year. We could tell the other regions:
we agree, you go do it. But they would not be
able to afford it, since they do not have that
kind of money. Therefore, simply saying yes, we
agree, just do it, would mean giving people hope
and never backing it up with real resources. It
would not be fair to people. But it still needs
to be done. We need to think about how
to approach this. After dealing with
the move-out from hazardous housing –
and for that we most allocate federal money – we
certainly need to think about what you said.
I would like to thank you for keeping
the renovation issue under control. This would
be good for the regions that complete it fast,
and yes, we have such top regions. So I will
think about this bill.
Yes, you are right, and I am asking you to do
this. Only we must bear in mind that your “top
regions” have solved the problem with federal
money, and we immediately transfer this money
to those regions where this problem has not yet
been resolved. That is, the money is not
released, but transferred to other regions. We
just need to keep it in mind. Otherwise, you are
right; we do need to think about this.
Another pressing issue in this field is the work
of managing companies in the housing
and utilities sector. We have received many
complaints. “For the last seven years, our
managing company was bankrupt and changed its
name three times,” Yelena Ivanova from Irkutsk
wrote. “There has been no hot water in 20
buildings for a year already,” Svetlana
Kudryavtseva from Murmansk wrote. “We addressed
the managing company in 2016, but they did not
take any measures and just said that repairs are
scheduled for October 2017.” How can we restore
order and improve oversight of managing
The problem does exist, and the Government is
trying to resolve these issues and improve
the entire system. A few years ago, we,
including me personally, decided that these
companies must undergo certification to get
the problem is that they should have been
licensed by a set deadline, but only 13 percent
managed to get a license in the end. It turned
out that these managing companies were not ready
to properly organise this work.
The first thing to be done is to ensure that
the quality of their work meets
the requirements. This is the first thing to be
done, and it should be done persistently. This
applies to the regional, local and federal
levels of government. This should be closely
monitored. That is my first point.
Second, we even introduced criminal liability
for falsifying the minutes of general meetings.
So, we introduced criminal liability and imposed
big fines for substandard work. And this needs
to be followed through on.
the agenda also includes a number of other
issues that should be resolved through
governmental instructions and adjusted
at the legislative level. I think that we will
resolve these issues in the near future. We will
not leave this problem without attention
and will definitely see it through.
It is time for us to speak to the westernmost
location of our Direct Line – Kaliningrad, where
Nikolai Dolgachev is working now.
inside the largest and most modern facility
of Kaliningrad Region – the centre
of the stadium that is being built for the FIFA
World Cup. Football matches will take place here
in exactly a year.
see stands seating 35,000 people. Equipment is
working on a football field that is covered with
a multi-layer fabric. There is a layer
of chippings at the bottom, it will be like
a layer-cake on the outside, and pipes will be
Good afternoon. What are you doing now? Why will
pipes be inside?
We are making a drain system to keep the field
dry during matches.
What stage are you at now? When will you finish
We have done over 80 percent of the total work.
I think we will finish it for sure by the end
of the year, considering that all that you see
now has been done in 18 months.
Thank you. We would also like to talk
to the workers.
Good afternoon. Your bosses say that the stadium
will be completed soon. What will you do next?
It would be good to continue working here,
to maintain such a great stadium.
Are you from Kaliningrad?
Yes, I am from Kaliningrad.
Do you have many workers from other regions?
No, we are all from Kaliningrad.
Indeed, this stadium will create jobs and become
one more link for the region that is
geographically far from Russia’s mainland.
Today we have invited a volunteer of the future
FIFA World Cup who sent several questions
to Direct Line.
Good afternoon. Tell us about yourself, please.
What are you doing besides being a volunteer?
My name is Andrei Voronin. I am a futsal coach
for children with disabilities and orphans. We
have been champions at a special futsal
tournament for two years running. We won second
place at the European futsal championship,
representing Kaliningrad Region. As of today,
four members of my team are on Russia’s national
futsal team at LIN sport [sports for people with
Do you have training facilities? Is
the infrastructure ready?
In spring and summer, we have places to train
but getting into gyms is not easy.
ask the President your question directly. He can
see and hear you now, just as the whole nation
can. Go ahead.
President, good afternoon. I have a question
which concerns not only myself but probably
every other resident in the Kaliningrad Region.
We are going to host the FIFA World Cup, and we
have a wonderful stadium here. Please, tell me
what will happen after the World Cup? Will
my students also be able to come to the stadium
or to play?
to play or at least to see the three matches
that will be played at the stadium. To come
and see them, at least.
first of all, I am confident that you will build
the facility and you will do it on schedule.
By the way, regarding Kaliningrad, we initially
thought that the price tag was too high. It is
understandable that the leaders of Kaliningrad
and the Kaliningrad Region wanted not just
to build up the stadium but also develop all
the adjoining infrastructure: to erect a new
township, a whole residential area, but
ultimately, we agreed on the cost of the stadium
as well. Everything is going according
to schedule, as far as I know. But to be honest,
your question is odd. The answer is yes, because
the stadium is being built for people to play
sports, for fans to come there. I hope we will
never allow stadiums to be turned into shopping
markets. On the contrary, even in Moscow
everything is going back to its normal course.
Thank God, sports facilities are being used
the way they were intended.
Concerning the facilities and buildings
for the Olympics in Sochi, practically
everything is being used effectively. We have
probably better results than anywhere else, when
it comes to the use of sports facilities after
large-scale international competitions. The same
is true of Kazan after the competition were held
there, I mean the Universiade. As for stadiums,
they must and can be used as athletic facilities
only. This is why I am sure that children will
able to practice there. I am sure that fans can
rejoice. And the key thing is we will finally be
developing football. I hope our players will
also perform at a high level, which everyone
expects from them.
And I would just wish you success. Thank you
Nikolai, let us take another question from
The Russian national team has not been at its
best lately, and no one knows how it will
perform during the upcoming world championship.
I have a proposal. Perhaps, you could use your
influence on them? Perhaps, you could tell them
to start really playing ball?
I prompted this question, I think. I am not
going to rant and rave or criticise anyone,
although, of course, the Russian football fans
are expecting a better performance from our
When I speak to specialists at the international
level, I ask whether our athletes will play
or not. They say no, they will not. I ask them
why. They say because … followed by complaints
that there are too many foreign players and too
little attention paid to training young players.
In other words, very little attention is paid
to promoting children's and youth football.
True, there are positive developments. I was in Krasnodar
recently, and Mr Galitsky is doing a great job
there. It is a private project. He has built
a stadium and put together a football school
with remarkable students who play not only
football, but chess as well. All major clubs
have created such systems for training young
football players. If this continues,
and I believe it will, we will definitely have
an efficient national team that will make its
Thank you, Kaliningrad.
President, I would be remiss not to ask you
a question today. There is a crisis underway,
difficult times for everyone, clearly.
The number of disgruntled people is on the rise.
Some are protesting in social media, others are
taking to the streets. Is that an opposition?
Are you prepared to talk to anyone among them?
I am prepared to talk to everyone who really
aims to improve people's lives, to resolve
the issues facing the country, but not the ones
who use existing difficulties – and there are
always enough difficulties anywhere you go –
to promote their own political agenda. Using
difficulties as a tool for self-promotion
and in order to cash in politically, only
spoke about managing companies. What is one
of their key problems today? They are
intermediaries in the movement of funds from
the state to those who provide additional
services. They should be denied the right
to mediate cash flows. The same applies
to the opposition. Some of them in this sense
are no better; they are using difficulties
to their own advantage. Instead, they should
offer solutions. Those who offer solutions
deserve our closest attention. They are entitled
to maintain a dialogue with the authorities.
This is what we are going to do.
To be continued.
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