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6 Dec, 2009 08:26

Prime answers

Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was a record breaker this week. In his annual question and answer session with the public, he took 90 questions in over four hours.

The Premier addressed social and political issues, as well as lighter and more personal matters. RT presents the main highlights of the session.

On fighting terrorism

“We have done much in order to break the back of terrorism, but the threat has not been removed. We can be more efficient. What is necessary to achieve this, we have all the society, I emphasize this – each and every one of us should realize the threat that has been accompanying us these years. We should be vigilant and we must pursue large-scale preventative work.”

On Russia overcoming the world economic crisis

“It will take time and effort to overcome the crisis. Still positive trends are observed on the whole. This year has become the most difficult over the past decade, not only for us, but also for the whole world economy. And we have been hit heavily by the crisis.”

On Russia’s accession to the WTO

“As far as the WTO is concerned – acceptance into the WTO is still one of our strategic goals, but it looks like some countries, including the US, are trying to prevent us from joining, for reasons known only to those countries. But the top priority for us is the integration of the post-Soviet space.”

When will Khodorkovsky be released?

“Mikhail Khodorkovsky has been put in prison by a court. What’s important is not when he'll be released. What’s important is that such crimes must never happen again in Russia. I've never said this publically before, but will say it now. The money that was made from selling Yukos assets has been put into the state budget. If it was stolen from the people, we must give it back to those people.”

On Stalin’s legacy

“All the positive things that Stalin accomplished were gained at an unacceptable price. And this way of ruling a country is unacceptable. In that period we encountered the cult of Stalin’s personality and crimes against his own people. It’s a fact and we must not forget about that.”

Relations with Ukraine

“Certain individuals that have made their way to the Ukrainian leadership are exploding our current problems, our past and the present difficulties. They are doing this out of their selfish political interests. But they will not succeed in destroying the centuries-long ties between Russia and Ukraine."

On eternal life

Asked if he would like to live forever as a citizen of planet Earth, Putin answered “I am proud of being a citizen of the Russian Federation. It's more than enough.”

On “Problem 2012”

Considering the popularity of the President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Russians may have a difficult choice when they vote at the next presidential election, because both have hinted they will run in 2012 presidential election.

President Medvedev, on being asked about such a possibility at a joint press-conference with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, said “Prime Minister Putin said he does not exclude such a possibility, I do not exclude it either. As we have mentioned, we are close friends, we understand each other and work together well. We won’t elbow each other out of the way, but we will make a decision that will be good for our country.”

RT's political commentator Peter Lavelle, says there's little chance the two will be competitors:

“They both know each other very well and work closely together. I cannot see them being unfriendly. And if there is a choice – people could have a choice of style. But I’m still convinced the subject is much the same… I don’t think there would be any problem.”

Putin dismissed allegations that it is time for him to leave politics with all its problems and live for himself and his family.

“In your dreams!” he said.

Read also: Putin, Stalin, Russia