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Unfunny comedians, freedom of speech and aliens: Top answers from Putin’s epic Q&A

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.

MH17

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:

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.

Also on rt.com Putin on MH17 downing: Evidence presented against Russia 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:

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.

Also on rt.com ‘Not a comedy, it’s a tragedy’: Putin slams policies of Ukrainian funny-man president Zelenesky

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:

No other country has such state-of-the-art high-tech weaponry like ours. I’m talking primarily about our hypersonic missile technologies.

Also on rt.com We are 'probably the only great military power' to reduce its defense spending, Putin says

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:

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!'

Also on rt.com Putin rattled by memories, recalling terrorist invasion of Dagestan and bravery of militia defenders

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:

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.

Also on rt.com Putin: Criticism of power has to be free and unimpeded

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.

Law enforcement agencies should be controlled to eliminate any wrongdoing, so they don’t put people in prison just to ‘tick a box’.

Also on rt.com Putin vows accountability for police officers complicit in Golunov drug scandal

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:

Solutions are always tough where big money is involved.

Also on rt.com Big money makes solutions tough, Putin says, as first captured belugas and orcas are released

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:

I’m not [an alien], and I have proof – my relatives, my family, my children, after all.

Also on rt.com Putin says he ‘has proof’ he’s not an ALIEN (VIDEO)

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