July 22, 2019 "Information Clearing House" - Vladimir Putin answered questions from American film director, screenwriter and producer Oliver Stone. The interview was recorded on June 19, 2019 in the Kremlin.
Oliver Stone: So, I interviewed Mr Medvedchuk. It was in Monte Carlo. He gave us a very interesting interview. He gave us his view of the Ukraine. I gather that youíre close with him.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: I would not say that we are very close but we know each other well. He was President Kuchmaís Chief of Staff, and it was in this capacity at the time that he asked me to take part in the christening of his daughter. According to Russian Orthodox tradition, you can't refuse such a request.
Oliver Stone: Oh, you cannot refuse it?
I thought it was a big honour for you to be the godfather of his daughter.
Vladimir Putin: It is always a great honour to be a godfather.
Oliver Stone: Well, how many children are you godfather to?
Vladimir Putin: I will not give a number but several people.
Oliver Stone: Wow. Is it like a hundred or three hundred?
Vladimir Putin: No, no, are you serious? Certainly not. Just a few.
Oliver Stone: Otherwise I would ask you to be the godfather for my daughter.
Vladimir Putin: Does she want to become an Orthodox Christian?
Oliver Stone: Ok, weíll make her that.
Vladimir Putin: You have to ask her.
Oliver Stone: As long as she stands in church, right?
Vladimir Putin: Of course. How old is she?
Oliver Stone: She is 22 now.
Vladimir Putin: Is she a believer?
Oliver Stone: Yes, she is a believer. She is raised Christian.
Vladimir Putin: I see.
Oliver Stone: You know, young people in America sometimes, they are different.
Vladimir Putin: Young people are different everywhere.
Oliver Stone: They are spoiled to some degree in the western world.
Vladimir Putin: It depends. The older generation always says that about the younger generation.
Oliver Stone: Yeah, I know, I know. Thatís true. But I donít know what is going on with the American culture. Itís very strange right now.
Vladimir Putin: Is there an American culture?
Oliver Stone: As you know, Iíve been very rebel all my life. Still am. And I have to tell you, Iím shocked by some of the behaviours and the thinking of the new generation. It takes so much for granted. And so much of the argument, so much of the thinking, so much of the newspaper, television commentaries about gender, people identify themselves, and social media, this and that, Iím male, Iím female, Iím transgender, Iím cisgender. It goes on forever, and there is a big fight about who is who. It seems like we miss the bigger point.
Vladimir Putin: They live too well. They have nothing to think about.
Oliver Stone: Yeah, but itís not a healthy culture.
Vladimir Putin: Well, yes.
Oliver Stone: Years ago when we were talking about homosexuality, you said that in Russia we donít propagate it.
Vladimir Putin: Not exactly. We have a law banning propaganda among minors.
Oliver Stone: Yes, thatís the one Iím talking about. It seems like maybe thatís a sensible law.
Vladimir Putin: It is aimed at allowing people to reach maturity and then decide who they are and how they want to live. There are no restrictions at all after this.
Oliver Stone: Ok. Mr Medvedchuk proposed recently, you know, a plan for solving the tensions in Ukraine between east and west. You know about this?
Vladimir Putin: To be honest, we do not talk so often. He has more free time than I do. But we meet from time to time, especially in connection with his efforts to get detainees released. He devotes much time to this.
He also told me something about his plans on Donbass but I do not know the details. At any rate, I consider it absolutely correct that he calls for direct dialogue with the people who live in Donbass. There is not a single example in recent history when a crisis was settled without direct contact between the sides to the conflict.
He says he thinks it is necessary to fully implement the Minsk agreements and I cannot help but agree with this as well. So, I know the elements of his proposals. He speaks about them in public and I agree.
Oliver Stone: Ok. They have a new president now. Has anything changed in Ukraine? Or still the same?
Vladimir Putin: Not yet. After all, the recent election was clearly a protest vote. A fairly large number of people supported the newly-elect President in central Ukraine, in the east and the south. And these are all people who sincerely seek a settlement in any event. During his election campaign President Zelensky continuously spoke about his readiness to do everything to solve this crisis. And then literally just yesterday, while in Paris, I think, he said suddenly he does not believe it is possible to hold talks with what he called separatists. This is clearly at odds with what he said during his election campaign.
Oliver Stone: So no change?
Vladimir Putin: Unfortunately, none for the time being.
Oliver Stone: Do you think thereís any revulsion? I mean, you were telling me about Ukraine and Russia. Do you think there is any reason for this hatred of Russia in Ukraine?
Vladimir Putin: You know, our relationship is not easy at the moment. This is the result of the grievous events linked with the coup díťtat. The other part of this story is propaganda by the current government in Ukraine, which blames Russia for all the tragic events that ensued.
Oliver Stone: Well, historically, do you see these two countries coming together again?
Vladimir Putin: I think this is inevitable. At any rate, the cultivation of normal, friendly and, even more than friendly, allied relations is inevitable.
Oliver Stone: Yeah. Mr Medvedchuk would be a good liaison.
Vladimir Putin: I believe so. But our positions, our points of view, differ on many things. Mr Medvedchuk was born in the family of a man that was said to be convicted during the Soviet times for nationalist activities. He was born in Siberia, where his family and his father virtually lived in exile.
Oliver Stone: Whatís the connection?
Vladimir Putin: Connection between what?
Oliver Stone: All this story to my question?
Vladimir Putin: The connection is that he has his own ideas about Ukraine and the Ukrainian people. For example, I believe that Russians and Ukrainians are actually one people.
Oliver Stone: One people, two nations?
Vladimir Putin: One nation, in fact.
Oliver Stone: You think it is one nation?
Vladimir Putin: Of course. Look, when these lands that are now the core of Ukraine, joined Russia, there were just three regions Ė Kiev, the Kiev region, northern and southern regions Ė nobody thought themselves to be anything but Russians, because it was all based on religious affiliation. They were all Orthodox and they considered themselves Russians. They did not want to be part of the Catholic world, where Poland was dragging them.
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