Under an ad hoc program “Conversation with Vladimir Putin. Continuation”, the head of Government answered more than 90 questions from the Russians from different regions on the most pressing socio-political issues. The program lasted record 4 hours and 32 minutes.
At the beginning of the conversation, there was a flurry of questions posed to the head of Government relating to the elections to the State Duma, as well as Vladimir Putin’s personal attitude to “color revolutions”. The Prime Minister said the “colored revolutions” is a scheme of social unrest worked out abroad. For example, “the orange revolution” in Ukraine.
"By the way, some of our oppositionists were in Ukraine, where they worked officially as advisers to the then President Yushchenko,” said the Prime Minister.
Responding to a question about the so-called “white ribbons” that the opposition calls a symbol of “snow revolution”, Vladimir Putin said that at first he did not even understand what they mean. “When I saw on the screen some people wearing white ribbons on the chest, to tell the truth, I thought it was propaganda of the fight against AIDS,” said the head of Government.
Vladimir Putin also touched on criteria of the activity evaluation of the governors of Russian regions. The presidential candidate, in particular, also answered the question whether to remove the heads of regions, it the ruling party showed there poor results. According to the head of Government, at the moment “a list of criteria has been developed, which can be taken as a basis to evaluate the activity of gubernatorial corps, of each concrete governor.” However, he said, in this list there are no items related to the election results.
Putin did not rule out a future return to the electiveness of governors.
The audience also asked why the head of Government does not dismiss the “weak ministers”. Vladimir Putin responded by saying that he is personally responsible for the government work along with cabinet ministers and does not see “weak ministers” in his team. According to him, the ministers are always at the forefront of criticism and it is easy to make “scapegoats” of them.
“But I am personally responsible for what happens in these areas,” said Vladimir Putin.
“Our task, if people are mistaken in something, is to arrange work so as to avoid these errors,” said the Prime Minister. At the same time, Vladimir Putin noted that anyhow in the near future the change will be made in Government.
Refering to the Russian Federation’s foreign policy course and, in particular, responding to a question about the need for Russia to take into account the European integration experience, Putin said he considers it essential to strengthen the integration processes in the post-Soviet space and to form supranational structures to address the issues of intergovernmental partnership. The Prime Minister also noted the need to strengthen the Eurasian partnership between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.
Vladimir Putin said that despite the technological challenges and the U.S. position, the integration of Russia and Europe is possible.
“But the suspicions of the past hinder us to build up relationships Why aren’t we together? Here there are technological reasons: One of our emperors in due time, giving instructions to his son, said “all are afraid of our hugeness.” It is so. And till now it is so. The leading country of the Western world, the USA, is suspicious of our nuclear missile potential. This is the way of thinking within the context of cold war. And it prevents Europe from working with us as an ally,” said the head of Government.
The Prime Minister said that Russia when building up its foreign policy will not proceed from an atmosphere of ill will around it. Thus, Putin answered a question by a political analyst, Nikolai Zlobin, who asserted that “Putin’s foreign policy has severely altered the global picture”, but “the impression is that around Russia there are only enemies or ill-wishers, and there are no allies.”
“We are not going to live as a country surrounded by enemies,” said the Prime Minister. He stressed that the multipolar world proved much more complicated than the bipolar one.
“People are tired of the dictatorship of a single country. This is a dictatorship, not an alliance. Sometimes America seems to need not allies, but vassals,” said Vladimir Putin.
“But we will build up our relations with the United States, because the American society does not want any more to play the role of world policeman,” said the head of Government.
Responding to a question regarding the further development of the South Federal District of the Russian Federation, the head of Government said that “the support of the North Caucasus republics will continue, but it must be reasonable.”
“I know that there are a lot of claims against Kadyrov, but he restores Chechnya, and has restored Grozny the way that nobody has been able to do it. There is much talk about corruption in general and especially about corruption in the Caucasus. But I am just sure that the corruption component in Chechnya is minimal. Minimal. We need to develop production, economy, social sphere, lest people should want to leave from there,” he said, noting that the often-sounded call “to stop feeding the Caucasus” is caused by dissatisfaction of people in those regions where the natives of the southern republics move to a permanent place of residence.
“We now have several federal programs for the development of the country’s south. It is entitled precisely “The South of Russia”, the second covers Chechnya, the third Ingushetia. Yes, we have to invest money therein. This does not mean that we need to unthinkingly heave money there,” said the Prime Minister. He added that developing the economy of the North Caucasus “is needed, particularly, to reduce the number of those who joins the ranks of armed gangs.”
Responding to a question of general Aslambek Aslakhanov, who expressed his concern over the frequent conflicts on a national basis, as well as with regards to standards of behavior of many people who come from the North Caucasus, Vladimir Putin does not rule out that the Russian Government will create a new ministry - for Nationalities. “In conditions of our country today’s structure clearly does not meet the requirements of the day. We will think over it without fail,” said the head of the Cabinet of Ministers.
The Prime Minister reminded that national issues now fall within competence of the Ministry of Regional Development. “This seems to be not enough. The Ministry of Regional Development is focused on social and economic issues, and problems of national wealth and development, ethnic groups’ interaction in Russia fall by the wayside,” said Vladimir Putin.
He reminded that the cancellation of residence permits created problems with the huge influx of population to large centers. Head of Government stressed that it is necessary to solve the task of even development of productive forces and social infrastructure across the country.”
One particularly sharp question was asked by representatives of the military-industrial complex of Nizhny Tagil, who criticized the senior military leadership of the country for their statements about the lack of competitiveness of the samples of Russian weapons and military equipment. In response, Putin called “unacceptable” the statements of Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov and the Chief of Staff, Army-General Nikolai Makarov.
“I understand that some statements among the senior ranks of the Ministry of Defense, including the Chief of the General Staff, vex you when they call the quality of Russian weapons in question, and, incidentally, it harms the foreign economic activity in trade of arms,” he said. “The fact that they make these public statements is certainly unacceptable,” said the Prime Minister.
The head of Government said that if elected president he is ready to work with all political parties.
“As for those who do not accept in principle, it is necessary to respect all of our citizens,” said V.Putin.
“There are certainly people who have a Russian passport, but act in the interests of a foreign state and for foreign money. We will try to establish contact with them too, but often it is useless or impossible,” said the Prime Minister. “What can I say in this case? We can finally say: come to me, Bandar-logs. I like Kipling from my childhood,” said the head of Government.