Putin values tolerance and honesty (most of all)

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin talks to students at Cheboksary University
Vladimir Putin has revealed what qualities he values in people, why he is against being called “great” and confessed that he loves the Kremlin. The Russian Premier was talking to students at Chuvash University.

As Russian youngsters celebrated Students’ Day, Putin met with a bunch of young people in Cheboksary, the capital of the Republic of Chuvashia in the central part of the state. During a meeting over tea, students got a chance to satisfy their curiosity, asking the premier not only serious, but also personal questions, RIA Novosti reports.

A female student noted that Putin meets a huge number of people daily. She wondered if they all “leave a deep impression” in his soul and what qualities he likes in them.

“If everyone was leaving a deep impression, I would have gone mad by now,” Putin said.  As for the qualities, he said he valued “honesty and tolerance.”

The students also wanted to know what helped Putin to achieve such heights in his life. The answer was short: “Love of my motherland”. And, after being silent for a short while, Putin added modestly, “If there are any achievements at all to talk about”. The young people approved of the answer and clapped.

The premier’s answer to next question was met with even greater enthusiasm, and has already made headlines in the Russian media. A Pakistani student, struggling a bit with Russian language said: “When you were at the beginning of your career as a politician, journalists used to ask ‘Who is Putin?’.

"Now everyone knows – Putin is great,”
the student said, making the room laugh.

“Thank God, I am still alive and I think it is still a bit early to perceive myself as some grand figure,” Putin said. “As Saint Francis once said, all of us in our own places should everyday hoe ground which was allotted to us by God – then we will achieve success,” the PM responded.

“And whether someone is great or not – let’s leave it to future generations. It is up to them to decide what I actually did,” the premier added, making the audience clap once more.

Among other questions was one about Putin’s preferences in architecture; students wanted to know what structure the premier, having traveled all around the country and the world, remembers best of all.

“The Kremlin,” he said.

The premier, however, remained enigmatic when one of the female students asked a typical “women’s question”, wondering what was the most romantic thing Putin did in his life for a woman. “If it is not a secret,” she added.

“Of course, it is a secret,” Putin said. “Do you really want me to tell it right here? It is such an intimate thing, which I believe should not be discussed in public. Do not be angry with me.”

Indeed, the meeting was not all about lofty matters. Everyday problems were also touched upon.

All students coming from Haiti, which was ruined by a recent disastrous earthquake, will study in Russia for free and their tuition will be funded by the federal budget, Putin said.

"We have decided that all those who paid tuition fees will now study at the expense of the Russian federal budget," he said. Currently, 75 Haitians are studying in Russia.

An issue that worried many foreign students and those who are only planning to come to study in Russian universities was raised by a young man from Ecuador. He said he felt safe in Cheboksary, but was worried by hate and faith crime reports from other Russian cities.

"We are aware of this problem, and unfortunately we know many sad and tragic cases involving foreign students in previous periods," Putin replied.

He said as a result of authorities’ efforts – which are “quite adequate to the threat” – the number of crimes against foreign students in 2009 decreased by 34 % compared to 2008.

"In general, there is a result, but we will not relax of course, and we will work further. It is necessary to step up the work of law enforcement agencies, but first and foremost it is necessary to educate people in the spirit of fighting xenophobia and understanding that, as a multiethnic and multi-confessional country, Russia developed from its very first days as such a country," Putin said.