Unfunny comedians, freedom of speech and aliens: Top answers from Putin’s epic Q&A
Russian President Vladimir Putin took over four hours to answer 81 questions during “Direct Line,” his regular annual Q&A session with the Russian people. Here are some of the most interesting ones.
Commenting on the Dutch-led investigators blaming Russia for the deaths of 298 people on board Malaysian Airlines jet shot down over Ukraine in 2014:
Also on rt.com Putin on MH17 downing: Evidence presented against Russia is ‘no proof at all’
Russia never avoids responsibility that is actually hers to bear. What we were presented as proof of Russia’s guilt absolutely doesn’t satisfy us. We believe it is no proof at all.
Ukraine’s new president
Volodymyr Zelensky, the new president in Kiev, might be a former TV comedian, but his policies of continuing the war with residents of two eastern provinces are anything but humorous:
Also on rt.com ‘Not a comedy, it’s a tragedy’: Putin slams policies of Ukrainian funny-man president Zelenesky
He is a talented person. I remember his performances on the ‘KVN’ show. It was funny. But what we see now isn’t funny. It’s not a comedy. It’s a tragedy.
Russian defense spending
Moscow’s military expenditures are but a fraction of Washington’s, and Putin is reducing them in favor of social programs even as other powers are ramping up theirs, but that does not mean the Russian military is weak:
Also on rt.com We are 'probably the only great military power' to reduce its defense spending, Putin says
No other country has such state-of-the-art high-tech weaponry like ours. I’m talking primarily about our hypersonic missile technologies.
Memories of terrorist assault on Dagestan
Putin got very emotional, holding back tears as he reminisced about the August 1999 attack of Dagestan by terrorists from neighboring Chechnya. He told the audience about the local elders asking for weapons and even artillery strikes to repel the invaders:
Also on rt.com Putin rattled by memories, recalling terrorist invasion of Dagestan and bravery of militia defenders
I also recall how village leaders came to our troops and asked: why aren’t you firing from artillery? The commander told them: 'Those are your homes; it takes generations to build a home in the mountains.' Their response shocked me: 'We don’t care, fire!'
Free speech in Russia
Commenting on a law adopted in March making offensive online speech against symbols of Russia and institutions of power a misdemeanor:
Also on rt.com Putin: Criticism of power has to be free and unimpeded
The criticism of power has to be free… nobody can abuse this legislation to restrict the right of the people to criticize the authorities on any level.
Arrest of journalist Golunov
Asked about journalist Ivan Golunov, who was arrested on suspicion of drug-dealing but released swiftly after it emerged there was no evidence against him.
Also on rt.com Putin vows accountability for police officers complicit in Golunov drug scandal
Law enforcement agencies should be controlled to eliminate any wrongdoing, so they don’t put people in prison just to ‘tick a box’.
Big money and ‘whale jail’
The operation to release 87 beluga whales, 11 orcas, and five baby walruses from a facility in the Far East – where they were allegedly kept for sale to China – is expensive, but proceeding however slowly:
Also on rt.com Big money makes solutions tough, Putin says, as first captured belugas and orcas are released
Solutions are always tough where big money is involved.
Not an alien
Towards the end of the marathon Q&A, the Russian president was asked if he was an extraterrestrial. Here’s what he said:
Also on rt.com Putin says he ‘has proof’ he’s not an ALIEN (VIDEO)
I’m not [an alien], and I have proof – my relatives, my family, my children, after all.
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