Putin Q&A: personal views
A: Talking about what has been done I won’t go into details. I’m sure you know that and I voiced it already. We didn’t have a unified country. Every member of the federation had its own constitution that was different from the federal constitution. We’ve restored the territorial integrity and unity of our state. We’ve brought the incomes of our people back to the levels before the reforms and even surpassed it. We’ve restored the fundamentals of our economy on an entirely new market bases. We are now becoming one of the economic leaders of the world.
Such results were achieved in the last 15 years by only a few countries, mostly in Asia. I am not ashamed before my citizens who voted twice for me to be a President. All these eight years I have been sweating out like a slave on a galley from dawn to dusk giving all my energy and I am happy with what I have done.
I never felt tempted to stay for the third term, never. On the day I became Russian President I promised myself that I would never violate the constitution. People say that power is the strongest addiction. I never felt power-addicted myself. In fact, I have never been addicted to anything.
Q: At the beginning of this session, you said you weren’t trying to keep power in your hands. Are you tired of authority, or do you rather enjoy it?
A: It’s a kind of moral burden. It’s not easy. However, this is the case not only with the President of Russia. The same goes for presidents of all countries, both large and small. Do you think Bush has it easy? You’re laughing, but actually the United States is a huge country with lots of responsibilities in the world. Frankly, I think they have more responsibilities then Russia – because they have bigger potential.
Q: Recently there have been many rumours about revaluation. Some say there’s even new roubles being printed.
A: They are lie, don’t believe them.
Q: But in the mid term?
A: Not in the mid term. Not in the long term. It won’t happen.
Q: Do you guaranty that?
A: Listen here! Do you want me to eat soil from the flowerpot? You want me to swear on my blood? That would be stupid! There’s no economic need for this. It would do nothing but harm to the Russian economy.
Q: Some papers say you’re the richest man in Europe. If this is true, what is the source of your wealth?
A: This is true. I’m the richest man – in fact, not only in Europe but also worldwide. What I amass are emotions. I’m rich with the trust people of Russia have shown me by twice electing me to lead such a great country as Russia. To me, this is my greatest treasure.
Now, regarding all kinds if rumours concerning my material wealth, I saw what some papers say about this. This is nonsense. It’s not worth talking about. It’s just plain nonsense. They pick this stuff out of their noses and spread in over paper. That’s what I think of this.
Q: Your press conference takes place on Valentine’s Day. Has anybody given you a Valentine’s cart yet? If yes, who, if not, why?
A: No, nobody gave me a Valentine yet because I was getting ready for this meeting, and this morning, after my morning exercise, I went here straightway without seeing anybody. So, I haven’t met anybody yet.
Q: I’d like to give you one! How can we arrange this?
A: Come over here. Thank you. Of course, my wife congratulated me today but she didn’t give me a card.
Q: When speaking of your achievements, you mentioned that Sochi won the Olympic bid. You did a lot for this to happen. Do you regard the fact that Sochi will host the Olympic Games as one of your main achievements in your eight years in office?
A: You know what was the most pleasant thing for me to head when I had meetings with various IOC members? As I described the beauty and the strong points of Sochi to them, they listened to everything I said, and many of them would say at the end of our conversation, “We’d like to support the Russia you have made. We need it. I’ll vote for Russia myself, and I’ll spend the rest of the time trying to convince my colleagues to vote for Sochi.” That meant a lot to me. So, the fact that Sochi won is not just the result of my going to Guatemala. That’s the result of everything that has been done in the last eight ears.
Q: Recently Mrs Clinton said that you as a former KGB agent by definition cannot have a soul. How come your soul failed to respond to such an allegation?
A: I think what a statesperson needs is at least to have a brain. When building relations between countries one has to be guided not by emotions but by fundamental interests of his or her own country.
Q: Some high-ranking official in the Russian government, like Kudrin and Chubais, spoke out against Russia’s foreign policy, claiming it had negative effect on our economy.
A: Our foreign policy does not have a negative effect on our economic growth. Actually, among the people you mentioned, not everybody can be listed as part of the country’s political leadership. They should mind their own business.
Everybody should till his own plot of land daily. Like St. Francis. Then everything will be fine. But everybody may have an opinion.