Putin takes questions at annual end of year press conference (FULL VIDEO)
Russian President Vladimir Putin held his traditional pre-holidays marathon press conference on Thursday. Among other matters, he spoke about Ukraine, the ongoing stand-off with NATO, and the US boycott of China’s Winter Olympics.
23 December 202113:12 GMT
The conference ended with happy new year wishes from the president.
- 13:11 GMT
Some personal questions from the floor now:
Journalist: “Do you feel isolated from people since you’ve mostly switched to video link conferences?”
Putin: “Not really. Modern communications technology is quite good. As for personal contact – it’s true there’s a bit of a shortage.”
Journalist: “What have you been doing in your spare time during the pandemic? Do you keep an eye on cultural trends and popular bloggers?”
Putin: “Keeping an eye on people hasn’t been in my job description since I left the office of FSB director! I don’t really have much spare time, but I do keep up with my fitness regimen. Keeping fit is one of the duties required by my job, I believe.”
- 13:05 GMT
A question about Afghanistan and whether Russia would be recognizing the Taliban government as legitimate.
Putin said good, stable relations with Afghanistan were an issue of national security for Russia, given that Afghanistan was a major source of illicit drug production.
However, it needed a government that represented all its people before it would be recognized, the president said. That said, the most important thing to do right now was to urgently alleviate the ongoing collapse there. The countries that had occupied Afghanistan for two decades should be the first to offer aid, Putin asserted.
- 13:02 GMT
A question next about criminal prosecutions for the promotion of extremist views and for insulting people’s feelings.
Putin refuted the view that a publicity stunt in which a photo of a Nazi criminal was uploaded to a website commemorating veterans of World War II should be protected under freedom of speech laws.
Likewise, one could not claim freedom of expression if one insulted Islam’s Prophet Mohammed, the president said. Such acts only bred disdain and led to yet more extremism, he asserted, citing recent terrorist attacks in Paris.
- 13:00 GMT
- 12:58 GMT
Asked what might offer people some optimism about the year to come, Putin said that, personally, he gained emotional energy from implementing plans that would improve others’ lives. That’s the attitude he expected from all of his officials, he added. He hoped Russians would become more optimistic themselves when they witnessed those positive changes.
- 12:56 GMT
The former US president who lamented the Cold War-era Olympic Games boycotts was not Donald Trump, Putin said, in response to a journalist who took up his earlier challenge to guess who he was referring to.
- 12:55 GMT
A question next about infrastructure development in Russian villages, where, in some cases, the priorities seemed to be skewed, the questioner opined, with broadband being provided before decent roads.
Putin replied that internet access was important too, and should not be looked down on. However, he agreed that the proper development of rural areas was of the utmost importance.
- 12:51 GMT
A journalist from the city of Penza posed a question about pensions, and whether they would be indexed to keep up with inflation. Putin said the government would definitely deliver on that promise.
- 12:49 GMT
A question next from the southern region of Dagestan about certain infrastructure issues it was currently experiencing. The journalist said Dagestan needed federal help to boost its economic development.
Putin enquired about the particular problems in the region and the companies involved, but said he would need to look into the situation further before he could comment.