Vladimir Putin visited the new studio complex of Russia Today TV channel and met with the management and correspondents of the TV channel.
The head of state examined, in particular, the editing equipment, the dubbing cabins of the programs, the editors of the English, Spanish and Arabic broadcasting, the studio of visual effects.
Russia Today is a Russian international multilingual information company, which includes five round-the-clock television channels: channels in English, Arabic and Spanish; RT America TV channel; RTD documentary channel as well news Ruptly video agency and rt.com multimedia platform.
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Stenographic report on the meeting with the leadership and correspondents of the TV channel Russia Today
M.SIMONYAN: I will ask the first question about you, if you can, immodestly: what are your impressions?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Good impressions.
When we conceived this enterprise in 2005, we proceeded from the fact that another strong player should appear on the global information scene, who would not only objectively talk about what is happening in our country, in Russia, but also try - I want it emphasize, try - to break the monopoly of the Anglo-Saxon media on the world's information flows. And I think you succeed.
And I would like to stress right away that this is the most important thing: we never assumed that this would be an information service or a channel that would deal with the apology of Russian politics. We wanted an absolutely independent information channel to appear on the information arena.
Of course, it is funded by the state, and one way or another it cannot but reflect the position of the Russian official authorities on what is happening in our country and abroad. But still, I want to emphasize this once again: we did not conceive this channel - RT - as some kind of apologetics of Russian politics - both external and internal.
M.SIMONYAN: Thank you.
Now more on our journalistic topics.
The topic that at least today excites the minds of our audience is Snowden, who is called the second Assange, a man who “leaked”, in Russian, the information that the American authorities were engaged in total surveillance.
There are two aspects: on the one hand, it seems to be a mystery, it seems to be a traitor; but, on the other hand, [he made public] megazesible to society — American first and foremost — and to the entire world. What do you think about this?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: He did not say anything that someone did not know.
In my opinion, everyone has long known that electronic intelligence is engaged in monitoring citizens, organizations. In the context of the fight against international terrorism, this acquires a global character, and in general such methods of work are in demand. The only question is how much they are controlled by society.
After all, it is impossible to simply, say, listen to a telephone conversation, for example, in Russia - I can certainly tell you - without the appropriate sanctions of the court. By and large, this should also happen in a civilized society in the fight against terrorism using any modern technical means. If this is done within the framework of a law that regulates the rules of conduct of special services, then it is normal, if this is done outside the law, then this is bad.
M.SIMONYAN: Obama has so floridly said that one cannot have one hundred percent security and one hundred percent privacy in private life.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: You can.
I repeat once again: inside the country, we proceed from the need to obtain court sanctions on certain operational actions. Why should it not apply to the work of the special services in this case? Maybe it should.
M.SIMONYAN: The theme of the week in our country, as you, of course, know or guess, was not discussing Snowden, not Turkey, not Syria, but discussing your divorce.
You said this and said in some detail - you and Lyudmila Aleksandrovna - when you left the theater, from the ballet. But some things still remain unanswered, some questions. I am wondering: how to deal with the religious aspect of your divorce? Many people write about it, think, wonder.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: First, I want to say that both I and Lyudmila Alexandrovna proceeded from the fact that to say directly and honestly about the situation that we actually had is - this is much more correct behavior than hiding something .
M.SIMONYAN: So they write now, and from "both camps."
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Thank God, thank you. As for the religious side of the matter, it does not exist, because we never got married.
M.SIMONYAN: Thank you.
The next question will be asked by Masha Finoshina, this is our combat correspondent for the English channel. In Syria, when the war was already on, did 56 spend the last consecutive days there?
M. FINOSINA: Yes, almost 54.
M.SIMONYAN: She went on the air every day.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: You, as the head of the channel, I can say that you can’t do that.
M. FINOSHINA: I myself, Vladimir Vladimirovich.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: No, no, no, I am seriously talking to you.
This is said by some of my friends, your colleagues, in particular, from European countries, professional people who have been working in journalism all their lives. One of them told me directly: it’s not so long to keep a journalist in a country in conflict. Why? Because he…
M.FINOSHINA: Losing a sense of reality.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Yes, it loses its sense of reality. The feeling of danger is dulled.
M. FINOSHINA: Absolutely.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: And it is necessary to remove a person from there in time.
M.SIMONYAN: So I called you many times and said: come back! In fact.
M. FINOSINA: And I have already lost the sense of danger ...
M.SIMONYAN: On the twentieth day, I began to call her and say: “Masha, something you are there ... how are you? Come back! ”-“ No, no, no, I still want this and this. ”
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Actually, this is really dangerous. True, this is not a joke.
M.SIMONYAN: Yes, of course. Here, almost all of us have passed the battle points, and this, of course, is dangerous for life in the literal sense of the word. Masha, you have the floor.
M. FINOSINA: Thank you very much, Margarita.
Hello again, Vladimir Vladimirovich! Thank you again very much for coming to us. I am very glad to see you in our new home. It was here ... well, something was missing, now it has become warmer and more comfortable.
Here I was presented as a war correspondent ... Some people believe that reporters are everything - they are soldiers, soldiers of the invisible front. Indeed, in the past two years I had to go to the front visible. We worked a lot in places where the real war is taking place.
I spent a lot of time in Syria, 54 of the day ... The country was traveled far and wide. Literally went to every village, every city. Were in neighboring countries, where in most cases did not support the current regime of Assad.
And that's what struck the eye and what struck: with each of my visits I noted that more and more people are involved in the conflict. We talked with a huge number of people, completely different. And now, two years later, there is not a single person who could remain on the sidelines. One way or another, everyone is hurt, and everybody is hurt.
Everyone is completely different, that is, we talked with the wives of the executed officers of the Syrian army, with their children, who would be happy to stand aside, but how? Their fathers were killed, and they must take revenge. Maybe they do not want, but they must take revenge, this is a matter of honor.
Of course, we met with rebels, with Syrians and non-Syrians, in Syria and not in Syria, in Europe, in Turkey, in Jordan. Such combat guys were very optimistic at first, then somehow they started to take it, to complain: that the West forgot us, betrayed us. Began to ask for more money, more weapons.
As you yourself also emphasized, Bashar al-Assad is not an angel, so you had to meet with those who openly and openly hate him. I remember, literally I met at the hotel where the UN men stayed in Damascus, grandfather, he cleaned his shoes. And so he cleaned these shoes, did not think about it, because he performed all the actions mechanically, and only thought about when, at what moment, this great news would catch him that Bashar al-Assad was no more. Physically or as president. That is, he hated him quite openly. Since the pope [Hafez al-Assad], since the 1982 year, for Hama.
In neighboring Lebanon, we managed to reach the arms dealers, who say: we don’t care who gets them, when we send them across the border, who is killed, who will shoot, we are businessmen, we are only interested in money.
We talked with the guys, boys of 11 – 12 years, who had been shoved into the hands of these very automatic machines, which they came from the same Lebanon, put some scarves on, put them in front of the camera and forced them to read the text ... In general, it’s very dirty . You know, use children in this conflict.
In general, a whole kaleidoscope passed before our eyes. And indeed, in 56 days you already somehow become a part of it all. And, scary, no matter where all these people were in March 2011, when it all started.
Now there is a feeling that they all came to some frontier, some final frontier, at which they lost hope, faith - in themselves, in other people, in humanity, in kindness, in justice. And they got angry. Very much on everyone and everything.
And approaching my question, among them are those who are angry with Russia. Strong, seriously angry. For what? Someone for inaction, that, they say, there is no decisive measures to stop the bloodshed, and someone, on the contrary, for the action, they say, support Assad, supplying weapons.
And somehow everyone is waiting for something from Russia, everyone is asking, everyone is hoping. Everyone asks: why is Russia so, why is Russia not so? And, if you move away from the Syrian conflict, it is everywhere.
In Serbia - just at every step, on the barricades in Kosovo: what, where is Russia? Or in Iran now we were. Even in Mali remembered. And as President of this country, I would like to ask you a question on behalf of these people.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: As President? Or are you as President?
M. FINOSINA: No, no, no. (Laugh). I wanted to say how, as President of this country, I would like to ask you. So what do I answer these people?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: You had such a long question. I will try to answer as short as possible. First of all, you said that I once said that Bashar Asad is not an angel.
I didn't talk about that. I try to be very careful about these expressions. But what I said - I said that in the country, apparently, there were some ... not some, but serious changes. And the country's leadership should have felt it in time and these changes should start.
This is an obvious fact, otherwise what is happening now would not have happened. This is the first thing I said. The second thing I said: we are not the lawyers of the current government and the current President Bashar al-Assad. But what worries us and what is our position ...
Yes, what else would I like to say. We do not want to interfere in any way in the conflict between different directions in Islam, between Sunnis and Shiites. This is an internal affair of Islam itself. We have a very good relationship with the Arab world. We have good relations with Iran, thank God, and so on.
But what worries us and why do we take a position you know about? You see what happens in the region as a whole. Iraq is clearly restless, and there is no certainty about its unity for the future and for the preservation of territorial integrity. Yemen is restless. Tunisia did not calm down. In Libya, inter-tribal ethnic clashes occur. That is, the entire region has plunged at a minimum - I will very accurately say - into a state of uncertainty and conflict. And Syria there too.
First, in my opinion, why this is happening. Because some people from the outside think that if this entire region is to be brushed under that comb that someone likes, which someone calls democracy, then there will be peace and order. And this is not the case at all.
Excluding stories, traditions, religious features of this region can not do anything. Especially not to intervene. That intervened in the events in Libya. It was good, bad mode, but the standard of living was the highest in the region. What is happening there now? There is a struggle for resources, incessant intertribal struggle. What it will turn into, nobody knows.
We are very concerned that if we act in Syria the same way, then there will be the same state. Are we not only a space of uncertainty and terrorism, which was formed between Afghanistan and Pakistan? Where no one controls anything, only militant bases are functioning there? Do we want this? And this is very close to our borders. This is what worries us most.
This is the first. And the second. We are concerned about the future of all ethnic and religious groups living in Syria. We want to establish long-term peace and order there, ensure the legitimate interests and rights of all the people who live there.
Therefore, our position has always been to first give them the opportunity to determine how power is built in Syria, how legal rights, interests and security of all who live there will be secured, and then, based on these agreements, move on to some then systemic changes. And not vice versa: first, expel everyone, and then plunge the whole country into chaos.
After all, what our colleagues can not answer us? One of the key organizations in the camp of the so-called armed opposition is - here the Arabists probably have, I will be prompted - the Jabhat al-Nusra organization. This is one of the key organizations of the armed opposition. The US Department of State has recognized it as terrorist and linked to Al-Qaida. She, in fact, does not hide it. So what? Will she enter the future government? We are told: "No." And I say: "And how are you, take a newspaper and chase them away like flies?" - "No." - "And what will happen?" - "We do not know." But this is not a joke, it's all serious stuff.
Or another example. On the one hand, we support some organizations that are fighting in Syria against Assad. On the other hand, the same countries that support them there are fighting with them in Mali. These are not only the same organizations - the same people. Some people went to Mali and there is fighting. They struggle with them there, and then they move back to Syria, they begin to support them there. Where is the logic? And what will all this lead to? You see, it's all not empty phrases, not empty words.
I very much hope that those initiatives that were launched by the President of Egypt - we recently met in Sochi, and he suggested more active participation of the countries of the region; the initiative of the British Prime Minister, who believes that the permanent members of the UN Security Council should be more actively involved; the initiative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia and the State Department of the USA, what we are all working on together now - that this joint work will finally give a chance for a settlement in the country.
M.SIMONYAN: Ira Galushko, also a correspondent for the English edition, who also traveled to many places, was covered by Fukushima, one of the first in Japan.
I.GALUSHKO: Now it’s not about Fukushima. In particular, we have often traveled to Europe lately, covering all kinds of protests. There are many protests there, and it can be said that most of the people who are protesting on the streets of Europe are young people.
And they are there because, in fact, they have nothing to do: they are educated or still receive, but they cannot find work. They have no prospects for any kind of light, but simply the future. And, of course, they are unhappy, they are on the streets, they loudly express their protest to what is happening in the states.
Meanwhile, the governments of these European countries believe that the only thing they can do is to tighten economic measures and tighten the screws, especially with regard to some social sectors. And they say: tolerate another 10 – 15 years, and then maybe take a breath, please. Do you think this approach is correct? And if not, does Russia have any recipe? How to deal with it?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Right for them.
I.GALUSHKO: And for us?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: And for us, the wrong one. We have different economies. We have a developing economy and emerging markets, and in Europe we mainly deal with developed economies. And the different state of these economies today. She is generally quite healthy. We do not have the burden of external debt, such as is in Europe and in the United States, by the way. There, in Europe, the average budget debt is already around 90 percent. In the United States, too, this is approaching or even a little more than a hundred percent.
There is really very high unemployment. There all have deficient budgets. Not only that the national debt is huge, and the deficit is huge. We have external debt 2,5 percent, total - about 10 percent. We have a deficit-free budget, we have 5,6 percent unemployment, and in Europe - 25 – 26 percent in some countries, and among young people it reaches 40 percent, and in some countries it is closer to 60 percent. Catastrophe! We have different situations.
Yes, of course, we can use the so-called oil and gas revenues. But I want to draw your attention to something else: we do not have a printing press for reserve currencies, but they do. And the situation is not that we have oil and gas revenues and, accordingly, reserves, but that we have limited spending. The Central Bank is constantly being criticized for having high rates. Now we have 8 – 8,5 percent? 8,25 percent? It does not matter, but it is big.
In the US, look, 0,25 percent, in my opinion. In Europe, too, is approaching this. And they say: here we would be so. Yes, the Central Bank keeps such a high rate, in order not to inflate the so-called “financial bubbles”. After all, you can give out cheap loans, you can ensure that manufacturers produce products for these cheap loans, but then it will not be in demand. Here you have a “bubble”.
And, of course, finding the border beyond which both monetary policy easing and spending tightening will lead to maximum effect — these are economic policies on the verge of art. I do not think that we have found such a facet that we work so efficiently in everything. I hope that now the Government of Russia after our repeated meetings will take some additional steps to stimulate the development of the economy and business activity.
But here is one of them, one of these measures, it is constantly used here, and, of course, our colleagues, liberal economists, criticize us for this, of course. But, let's say, maintaining the growth rate of real incomes of the population is quite high. Last year it was, in my opinion, 4,5 – 4,6 percent. For January, February, March, April of this year, 5 is already over one percent - the growth of real disposable incomes of the population. And this is an increase in domestic demand.
You see, we have a bit different situations. And therefore, in general, I share the position of our European colleagues who see a way out of the crisis in consolidating budgets, in restoring order and discipline in the economy. Of course, everything has some boundaries. And all the blame on the shoulders of citizens, of course, is impossible.
M.SIMONYAN: Daniel Bushell, host of one of the shows on the English channel. Probably the most scandalous presenter, Western media periodically write about him, like Foreign Policy and New Statesman, - that he is too critical of the “mainstream” view of the world. This, I think, is true. Daniel
D. BUSHELL: Yes.
Vladimir Vladimirovich, I really wanted to hear your opinion on multiculturalism. EU leaders have recently reluctantly admitted that their experiment with multiculturalism has failed. When I lived and studied in England, and then worked in France and Belgium as a RT correspondent, it was clear that the indigenous population and immigrants had very little in common. And Russia now, in recent years, is facing massive immigration. I wanted to ask how Russia can avoid the problem, the mistakes of the European Union with immigration?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: We have different initial positions. After all, the problems of immigration in Western Europe, by the way, and in the States in part, they are connected ... they are tougher, in my opinion. They are more prominent and more dangerous, because after all, both Western Europe and the States are dealing with people who come from other countries and are very difficult to assimilate in their new homeland, for years they don’t learn the language, do not speak the language, cannot join the labor market .
One of my Western European colleagues told me: “For ten years, even more, people come from, say, North Africa, and cannot speak.” (In this case, spoke directly in Spanish). And our emigrants? Now it's probably better, but those who came to the States in 80-s, in 90-e. I had one friend in a famous area where we lived, our people still live ...
RESPONSE: Brighton Beach.
V.PUTIN Yes, yes, that's right. And the grandmother is already one, she already lives there for about fifteen years, she does not speak English. And he says to his guests: "I will go to the store tomorrow, to New York." She does not even think that she lives in New York.
This is generally a common problem, connected, of course, primarily with the economy, with the need to attract cheap labor. In fact, we have the same thing. But with all the severity of this problem, it is still not as severe and dangerous as in Europe or in the States. Why?
Because if we are talking about immigration, that is, about foreign citizens, we still have to admit that they come from the republics of the former Soviet Union. Even though we, the new generations, have a poor command of the language, one way or another someone speaks Russian in families, the general mentality is preserved, there is a common historical memory, someone lived in some Russian regions, there are some relatives . That is, it is much easier for people to join the lives of those ethnic groups where they move permanently.
But we nevertheless need to be engaged more purposefully, we need to train those people who want to come to live in Russia, we need, as we say, it’s not good yet, to open Russian language courses in these republics, in these new states, stories, helping people still at school better understand each other.
And here, of course, we need to instill in our citizens or those who want to become citizens of Russia, a sense of responsibility, an understanding that they have come to another country and are obliged to observe our traditions, our laws, respect our culture and our history with respect. This is a separate big job. Previously, they simply did not pay attention to it. But now you need to pay and you need to purposefully do it.
As for internal immigration, it is also not so simple. In the Soviet Union they simply did this: there was a registration. I violated a residence permit - be healthy, as our people say, Ivan Petrov, go to places not so distant or for 101 nd kilometer.
Now everything is more complicated. The constitution has been recognized as illegal by the Constitution, so some more modern mechanisms are needed, but I repeat once again: after all, we have the advantage that we are a multinational people, but it’s still a single civilization.
M.SIMONYAN: On the issue of immigrants. We have one immigrant here - Elena Milinchich, she works with us on the Spanish channel, herself from Serbia.
E.MILINCHICH: Yes, I am from Serbia and in Russia 11 has been living for years. I can say that Russia has become for me a second homeland, but I still do not have Russian citizenship. And if I submit documents, the whole process will take at least 5 – 6 years. In order to do this, I need to have an apartment, for example. At the apartment you need to take a mortgage, for a mortgage you need to have Russian citizenship - it turns out some kind of vicious circle.
And in fact, it seems that in the West, where, you yourself said, this problem is much more acute ...
VLADIMIR PUTIN: It's still easier to get citizenship there than in Russia.
E.MILINCHICH: Therefore, there is also “acute”. Because it's easier to get citizenship there. In this sense, will something change in Russia?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: We must act very carefully in order to ensure the interests of the indigenous people of the Russian Federation in the first place. We are still a Russian state, and in our country 85 percent consider themselves Russian. And other peoples are nevertheless closer to us than all those citizens who live beyond the territory of the Russian Federation, that is, they are our indigenous peoples. We have a lot of them - over 120.
You lived 11 for years? And to get citizenship, you need 5 – 6 years, as you said. That would have filed already.
E.MILINCHICH: And to apply, you need to have a residence permit.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Well, you could have bought some elementary living space during this time.
E.MILINCHICH: How to get a loan?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I think that if you wanted to get citizenship, you could get at least some room somewhere in the Moscow region in order to have a formal right to apply for citizenship.
E.MILINCHICH: Is it not formal that I have been living here for 11 years and working?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Is. And I think that you are right, and in certain cases, of course, we must adjust our policy in this direction.
It is necessary to attract qualified and necessary people for various fields of activity in our country. Just like you. You are still a very young and beautiful woman. Excuse me, but this is true. In reproductive age. Here is your guide shows a good example.
That is, in principle, after all, in many countries - a very good example among them is Canada - entire programs for attracting the people needed by the country. And we have everything so stiff, unfortunately, in this sense.
There are now some ideas and some shifts in the sense of inviting the so-called compatriots - people from the republics of the former Soviet Union, and to facilitate the possibility of acquiring citizenship if they meet a number of criteria.
But in general, our migration policy should be more flexible, ensuring, of course, the interests of our indigenous people, but it should be more flexible in order to attract the necessary labor resources. Therefore, you are absolutely right, and now the Government is working on this, I have already told you.
M.SIMONYAN: Our other leading English channel, Sofiko Shevardnadze, has Russian citizenship, and the policy towards her has turned out to be more flexible.
S.SHEVARDNADZE: But at the same time, I must say, it did not work out right away either.
M.SIMONYAN: Yes, not immediately, it is true, through the stump deck.
Sofiko, our host.
S.SHEVARDNADZE: I have been living here for a long time, 8 years. I work in Moscow, but, Vladimir Vladimirovich, I was born in Tbilisi, I spent all my childhood in Georgia. It will be sly to say that I am not worried about the relationship between Russia and Georgia. It touches me very personally, very deeply.
You have an understanding if in the near future these relations will become normal again, especially considering that, for example, we know that Georgia will take part in the Sochi Olympics, and indeed it is ready to assist in maintaining security.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I have already said this on many occasions, what is the position of Russia. I believe that the current president made a big mistake. We have spoken on this subject many times with him, and I think he will not deny this. I told him: "Mikhail Nikolayevich, anything, just do not bring it to the bloodshed." And he told me all the time: "Yes, in no case, we will work, we will have patience, we will work with Abkhazia and with South Ossetia." But all, unfortunately, ended the war.
Many of your colleagues, especially in foreign countries: in Europe, in the States, and in Georgia itself, often blame Russia. But I think that any objective observer understands that Russia has nothing to do with it. The ethnic conflict has been stretching, probably not for decades, but for centuries. And in Georgia they can not not know. Well, can not be unaware of the events 1919 year, 1921 year. They can not know about the relationship between people.
And it was really necessary to have patience and state wisdom in order to build relations within a single state with both South Ossetia and Abkhazia. But, unfortunately, this failed. And, as a reaction to the events that occurred then, Russia took the step that led to the recognition of the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. I can not imagine a reverse step, I just can not imagine it.
But this is also a red line for Georgia to a certain extent, through which Georgia also cannot pass. Because it is fighting, as Georgia itself believes, for the restoration of territorial integrity. This is an issue that requires very careful consideration and, I would say, not just a competent decision, but a desire to resolve this issue on the basis of respect for the interests of people who live throughout this territory.
You know, I will not say more precisely. Now, if you respect the interests of all the people who live in these territories, and on the basis of this approach, find solutions, then this can be a long-term one. But this can be done only by the people who live there, without imposing any decision from outside.
As for the decision of the new government of Georgia to take part in the Olympics, to take some other steps to meet, we see them. We are able to evaluate them, we, as you probably noticed, answer them the same.
S.SHEVARDNADZE: Are you ready to accept their help? If they offer you security assistance?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Yes, of course. We are generally ready to cooperate with Georgia. We want to restore relations with Georgia, we treat Georgia very warmly. We are very close nations with Georgians. And you live here, you have citizenship. But how many Georgians live in Russia, whose achievements Russia is proud of as the achievements of its citizens!
M.SIMONYAN: A lot.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I will not remember the 1812 war of the year, we know who I mean. But even in the Soviet period, and even now too ... Therefore, culture is very close to us, in general, we are very much connected, I’m not talking about the purely spiritual side, the religious side of things. I met with the Catholicos ...
S.SHEVARDNADZE: With Elijah II.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Yes, he is a very kind person, and he is a true Georgian, of course. You see, there was no second, that he did not speak about the interests of the Georgian people. But he is so wise, gentle, calm.
You know that we made a decision to allow Georgian goods to enter the Russian market. We understand that this may not be a key issue, but still it is important for Georgia, for its economy. We will continue to act in this direction. We will develop relations, but these very difficult issues, of course, must be solved, I repeat, only those people who live in this territory in dialogue and without any pressure from outside.
S.SHEVARDNADZE: You can not about the most difficult, but about visas. Just a couple of years ago I just asked the same question to Dmitry Anatolyevich, and then it all came down to the fact that while Mikhail Saakashvili is in power, this is out of the question.
What should happen now in order for my relatives, people close to me, to come to Moscow without hindrance, just like my Russian friends go to Georgia now because they don't need a visa?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: If we really work together in the fight against crime, with terror, then it is possible. After all, I probably will not reveal to you a big secret, you probably know that a terrorist element is constantly infiltrating us from the territory of Georgia to the Caucasus.
And those unpleasant episodes connected with strikes on Georgian territory were connected with the fact that we struck six or seven years ago not just on Georgian territory, but on bandit formations, which approached Sochi for 30 kilometers. You understand? That's what came up.
M.SIMONYAN: Do you mean in the Kodori Gorge?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: No, not in Kodori, it was different. But it does not matter, in any case, their trucks MIA transferred. Trucks MIA threw them to the borders with Russia. We were forced to take preventive action. I then told this to the current President.
And we would very much like this to never happen again. We want to cooperate, we want to work with Georgia, we want to restore relations in full. And, I repeat, if we can establish such work in the sphere of law enforcement agencies, special services, this will be the first step towards restoring the visa-free regime.
M.SIMONYAN: Thank you.
Salam Adil, works in the Arabic editorial office, deputy director of this Directorate. Salam, you have the floor.
S.ADIL: Thank you, Margarita.
In the current capacity in which our editor-in-chief presented me, it is only a week. And so I worked as a journalist for 20 for years, traveled almost the whole world, was in many hot spots. Therefore, my eyes are not dulled, and I am still alive.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Thank God.
S.ADIL: Yes, thank God.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: God bless you.
S.ADIL: Thank you very much. And the question from hot topics is also the use of “drones”, in the sense of drones.
As you know, America almost every day uses these drones, bombs. This happens especially in Pakistan, in a number of other countries. You have already mentioned this - about the dangerous situation that has developed on the border between two states: Pakistan and Afghanistan.
At first glance, this is very convenient: there is no risk for the soldiers of a belligerent country, there are no direct clashes here. As in a computer game - remote control. However, it is fraught, as we see it every day, with large human losses among the civilian population.
This is the situation: on the one hand, yes, it is applied effectively. On the other hand, we see what the result is. The public is shocked by this in many countries of the world. And now the question of banning the use of drones at the international level is being raised. Therefore, I would like to know what position our country takes on this issue. Thank.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: At one time gunpowder was invented in China. No one could keep it from spreading. Then came nuclear weapons. And it also began to spread. Modern means of warfare, they are improved and will continue to improve. I doubt that everything can be banned. But to control and subordinate to certain rules, of course, can and should be.
And the United States, of course, does not strive to ensure that there are civilian casualties - of course not. And those operators that you mentioned are also living people, and I think they also understand this. But the fight against terrorism is necessary. I repeat once again: I know that in the States now there is a debate on this matter, and this issue is being raised more and more often on the UN site. It is necessary to put this under control, it is necessary to work out certain rules of application in order to minimize or better reduce accidental sacrifices to zero. This is extremely important.
I do not know whether our partners will go for it, but I believe that it would be in their interests to do that. But we have other threats. For example, in the States, the issue of the use of non-nuclear strategic ballistic missiles is being debated. Can you imagine what a threat this is? And if such a rocket starts from somewhere in the ocean? And if the means of detecting a rocket attack unlock that this rocket is flying in the direction of a nuclear power? How should this power react? How does she know if there is a nuclear warhead or a non-nuclear one? Will this rocket fall near its borders or already within its borders? Imagine what a threat?
And the theory of the use of nuclear weapons of small capacity? Can you imagine how this can blur the fact of the application? Lowering this threshold? And what can this lead to? Where is the threshold of this threshold, who defined it? We have a lot of threats in the modern world. And there is only one way to solve them - this is joint work within the framework of international law.
M.SIMONYAN: Peter Lavelle, leading one of the most important, enjoying great success programs - Crosstalk. From the very beginning, Peter has been working with us. He, probably, in English will ask a question, I will translate. Peter Lavelle.
P.LAVELL: Thank you.
Mr. President, I will ask a short question. It is believed that we live in the days of the opposition: the “Arab Spring”, the crisis in Europe, the Occupy movement, which was wonderfully covered by the RT channel ... What about the opposition in Russia? Surveys show that it is weak and does not have wide popular support. What kind of opposition would you like to see as your opponent? And I would also like to know about Mr. Kudrin.
M.SIMONYAN: Don't translate?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: No.
You know, any opposition is useful. You mentioned Occupy Wall Street now. We saw how at some stage the authorities, the police - how tough they began to act against the activists of Occupy Wall Street. I will not say right now, right, wrong - I want to say that any opposition is good and right and useful if we act within the framework of the law.
And if the laws do not like, then the democratic way the opposition should strive to change these laws, it should seek to attract the sympathy of voters on its side, go to the legislative bodies, be able to influence the legislative processes. And in such a way to change the reality.
If some people act outside the framework of the law, then the state is obliged in the interests of the majority to use legal means in order to bring everyone into the legislative field. This is what happens in the States, and so it is with us.
True, we are criticized for it, and when it happens in the States it is considered the norm. These double standards, we have long been accustomed to them and, in general, have paid little attention.
M.SIMONYAN: When it happens in the States, we criticize.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Yes, you are doing the right thing. Because the approaches should be the same. After all, this is the same in reality. True, let's say our diplomatic services do not cooperate actively with Occupy Wall Street, and your diplomatic service actively cooperates and directly supports. In my opinion, this is wrong, because diplomatic services are called upon to improve relations between states, and not to plunge into internal political affairs.
So this adventurism no one needs, no one likes. It is illegal if the participants in these movements violate existing legislation. If there are no violations of the law, if people express their position by legal means, then they have the right to do so. And this is positive for any country, because it is an opportunity to convey to citizens an assessment of the actions of the authorities in one direction or another: on social policy, on internal, on external.
As for Mr. Kudrin, this is my old comrade. Our opinions on issues of principle very often coincide with regard to the development of a country. But it probably could not have been otherwise, because we worked together with him in Petersburg, and then he was for many years a member of the Government, one of the most effective people.
And I draw your attention that I have always supported him on matters of principle. If I did not support him, he would not be able to work, he would not have been able to implement the ideas and principles that he defended. So this was to a certain extent our common policy.
He has his own view on certain things. At one time, he disagreed with Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev on a number of positions, but Mr. Medvedev was the President, he had the right to make a certain decision. Now, Aleksey Kudrin claims that he would return to the executive branch if the authorities had acted more decisively.
But when it comes to specifics - what is more decisive? Then I don’t really want to talk out loud. Why? Because more decisively, it means that it is harder to act in the direction of the pension reform, to raise the retirement age. Nobody wants to talk about it out loud, including representatives of the opposition. Although they believe that this is correct, they do not want to talk.
For some other issues - more rigidly. Cut costs you need. And above all social costs. Many of our liberal economists believe that we overestimate social spending, raise wages too quickly, raise pensions and social benefits too quickly. And this growth in real disposable incomes of the population - last year was 4,2 percent, this year already 4 percent over the 5,9 month - that it is unreasonable and that labor productivity lags behind wage growth rates, which is bad and dangerous for the economy.
It is difficult to disagree with this, by the way, in fact they are right in this sense. But, maybe, we need not to reduce the real disposable incomes of the population, but simply to work more on increasing labor productivity? This, you know, is a well-known joke about the fact that we wanted Russia to have no more rich, but fewer poor. This is always such a complicated thing, but the thinking part of the opposition — it speaks openly with us in private and professional conversations — does not dare to say publicly.
Actually it is wrong. I have already told them many times about this. If you have such a position, speak about it honestly and directly. And do not be afraid that some of the citizens will not like it. Because, only by taking a principled stand, it is possible to ensure that your opinion and support for your opinion expand, so that the platform of your support is more solid.
Because - how is it happening in Western Europe now? That brought some countries to bankruptcy, and whatever people say now, they don’t want a pay cut. Therefore, it might be better to increase social spending more accurately, to get into debt more carefully, and so on. And, in principle, it would be useful for the authorities if somebody spoke about it all the time.
For example, I, as I have already said, do not consider that we are doing all this redundantly. I do not think that this is an excessive increase in pensions, salaries, social benefits. But in the fact that we are told by people like Kudrin, there are certain reasons, and we need to listen to them. In general, this is a useful thing. And so the thinking nationally oriented opposition is, of course, very popular.
M.SIMONYAN: Oksana Boyko, also the host of our just "freshly produced" show - she recently became the leading correspondent of the English channel. She was also a war correspondent, she traveled a lot of wars.
O. Boyko: Actually, I wanted to ask a question, probably, in continuation of your previous answer in terms of principles and a principled position. I would like to, however, tie it to Iran, where in the near future there will be presidential elections. I know that Russia prefers not to interfere in the internal political processes, so I will try to formulate it very generally, even, it seems to me, a little philosophical.
It seems to me that Iran is such a very vivid example of how bilateral relations can be brought to the limit by rather insignificant contradictions, because the nuclear program that everyone has been talking about over the past decades is, in fact, based on vague suspicions that year, even by the Americans themselves are not confirmed.
At the same time, the fact that 99 percent, and maybe even one hundred percent of Iran observes the non-proliferation regime remains outside the scope. However, we all focus on suspicion, and, I think, the key here, of course, is the nature of relations between the States and Iran.
And Iran, of course, contributed to exacerbating the situation. But, as it seems to me, the position of the United States, their main, classical principle of the approach to the foreign policy of dividing countries into “friends” and “enemies”, lies fundamentally. Those who are not with us are against us. And, it seems to me, the threshold of tolerance for dissent, to differences is quite low, and behind it is either the threat of war, as in the case of Iran, based on unconfirmed suspicions, or contributing to war, as is the case with Syria.
Actually, my question - I'm sorry for such a long introduction - is this: I think Russia carefully avoided sharp corners, and it is clear from some of your earlier statements that you understand the price of hostility, open confrontation. At the same time, it seems to me, Russia and the United States have ideological, fundamental contradictions, especially on the use of force, which you cannot solve at any personal meetings. Because, in my opinion, they generally lie in the national idea of the United States, in that they supposedly have a big responsibility, which in fact is a great right.
How do you define this line for yourself: an attempt not to draw the country into an open confrontation, which can be fraught for our security, while at the same time upholding these fundamental contradictions, on which our security also depends? Sorry for so long.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: You have now driven anyone: Iran or the US?
M.SIMONYAN: It is the toughest among us.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: You know, you can answer this question until the morning. He is very capacious. I will try, as far as possible, concisely. I think - and spoke about it many times, this is the official position of the Russian Federation - Iran has the right to a nuclear peace program, and it cannot be discriminated against in this respect compared with other members of the international community and international life. This is the first.
The second. Despite this, all the same - and I told this to our Iranian friends - we must not forget that Iran is in a very difficult region. And when we hear threats from Iran against neighboring countries, in particular, Israel - we hear from Iran that Israel can be destroyed - I think this is completely unacceptable. This is not good.
O. Boyko: This is not an entirely correct quotation of what the President said.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Correct, incorrect, but if people see that such incorrect quoting is possible, then it’s better to avoid these double formulations, with double meaning, right? This is the second. And so the attention to this problem is not empty.
I have no doubt that Iran is following the rules in this area, because there is no evidence to suggest otherwise. And the latest report of the IAEA says that, in principle, Iran is honoring its obligations. There is still an open question. But, I think, if you have patience, work benevolently with each other, then you can go to these answers.
You know, I personally treat Iran with great respect and great interest. Iran is ... We rarely use such words, but Iran is a great country, a country with a great culture, a great history and a great people. They have their own pride, their own understanding of their place - not only in the region, but also in the world, and you need to treat it with respect.
In my opinion, you yourself have touched upon the essence of the problem, which lies in the fact that the Iranians, being very clever, competent and cunning people, I would say, politicians, they partially even use this confrontation with the USA ...
O. Boyko: And they are not alone.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: But they do it especially skillfully to solve domestic political problems. There is an enemy, he unites society. The same, in my opinion, is done by the States. Because after the Soviet Union ceased to exist, there is no external threat that would allow the States to dominate the Western community.
States should always protect their allies from someone. This gives advantages not only in politics, but also in the economy. If a country is a leader in protecting others, then it is entitled to some preferences. This status of advocate is a very important thing that allows us to solve many issues, not even directly related to foreign policy, international politics and security.
I think that the States also use Iran for this purpose - in order to unite the Western allies against some real or non-existent threat. For us, the complexity is great. The problem is not easy, but for Russia it is not difficult. We consistently fulfill all our international obligations, including on Iran’s peaceful nuclear program.
You know, we built Bushehr, we brought this thing to the end. We are ready to cooperate further. But, let's say, we proposed to enrich nuclear fuel on our territory, but for some reason our Iranian partners refused. It is not very clear why. They insist that within the framework of well-known international rules [they will] be engaged in enrichment themselves.
Here, I believe, as I have already told you at the beginning, answering your question, if they do not violate anything, they have the right to do so. And we will support this right, but let's not forget about the concerns of neighboring states and the international community regarding compliance with these rules.
O. Boyko: Can a small clarification? It’s just that my question was not only about US-Iranian relations, but also about US-Russian relations and whether you agree or not with this - ideological and fundamental contradictions on key issues of international law.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: So, before you meet with Obama, you are pushing me right there.
O. BOYKO: This is very important! Because if a country believes that it is allowed more than all the others, then ...
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I thought that you would not notice, but no - you noticed. You really are such a tenacious fighter. So, we have practically no ideological contradictions today - we have fundamental, cultural ones.
At the heart of American identity is an individualistic idea. At the heart of Russian - collectivist. There is one of the researchers of Pushkin, who said this very precisely and clearly. Here in "Gone With the Wind", remember, the main character there says: "I can not imagine that I will starve." For her, this is the most important thing.
And in our view, in the view of the Russian person, still other tasks, something that goes beyond the horizon. Something so soulful. Something related to God. You see, this is a slightly different philosophy of life. And therefore it is quite difficult to understand each other. But you can.
O. Boyko: Probably, there is international law for this, in order to put all on equal terms?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Yes ... That is the United States, of course, a democratic country, and it developed initially as a democratic state. After all, when people started to explore this continent, they came and built relationships with each other. And in fact life had to do it in dialogue with each other. Therefore, it was originally born as a fundamental democracy.
At the same time, let's not forget that the development of the Americas — you are driving me straight into the wilds, I don’t want to talk about it — the exploration of the Americas began with a large-scale ethnic cleansing that had no equal in the history of mankind.
After all, the Europeans, when they arrived there, they did just that - we must say this directly. Humanity does not know much from history. Say, the destruction of Carthage by the Romans: when they left, they even sprinkled salt on the ground so that nothing grew there.
And the development of the American continent by Europeans - nobody sprinkled the land there, because it was used, but it was destroyed by the indigenous population. After that, American history knew slavery. And it penetrated so deep! After all, Colin Powell wrote in his book how hard it was for him - a person with dark skin color - it was hard to break through. As he always felt the views of others. It means that it is sitting, sitting for sure still, in the souls and hearts of people.
Look, we know - in any case, today - different sides of the Soviet regime. We know Stalin. So, as before we did not know him. We know that it was a dictator, a tyrant. I very much doubt that Stalin in the spring of 1945, if he had an atomic bomb, would have used it against Germany.
In 1941 – 1942, when there was a question about the life or death of a state, it could be applied if it had one. And in 1945, when the enemy had already surrendered, in fact, he had no chances, I doubt it. Here I am personally. And the Americans used against Japan, defeated. And against a non-nuclear state.
You know, we have big differences between us. But this is normal when people with such big differences are determined to look for ways that help to understand each other. And it seems to me that we have no other choice. Moreover, it’s not by chance that in critical periods of modern modern history, Russia and the United States united: both in the First World War and in the Second World War.
No matter how they opposed each other, when the thunder struck, a merger took place. Something still unites. Some fundamental interests unite. We need to pay attention to this first of all. Know our differences, but still pay attention to the positive, which will help us to cooperate.
M.SIMONYAN: For us, this is an important topic - America, relations with America. Largely because our main audience is the USA. It is clear that you on other TV channels - and on the Russian first - will not be asking so many questions about it as we are. But even if we look at the statistics of visiting the site - just visits where we spread, our main audience is America, so for us this is the main topic, everything connected with it.
And Nastya Churkina flew specially from New York for our communication. It works on our channel RT America, which broadcasts from the States to the States, and covers American topics. Nastya.
N. CHURKINA: Yes, thank you.
In New York, I am the last five years. You have touched upon historical more fundamental differences and things that unite Russia and the United States. I would like, if possible, to return to diplomatic problems and, perhaps, even to the problems of international law of today.
Since now and recently, communicating often with American politicians and with experts on Russian-American relations, we hear how behind the scenes they say that Magnitsky’s act turned into a continuation and replacement of the Jackson – Vanik amendment, respectively some outdated approach to relations with Russia. Barack Obama, as we know, last year at a summit in Seoul, hinted to Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev that after his re-election he would have more free ...
VLADIMIR PUTIN: That's tied to something. How do you work here, I do not understand? (Laugh).
P.LAVEL: This is always the case.
N. CHURKINA: This is the last question, I promise. Hinted that it would be easier to work with Russia. However, we do not quite observe it. And many topics today, of course, were addressed. What do you think, why didn’t the reboot take place and can it actually take place on a real equal basis at all, or is it always expected from us that we will give up our interests?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I, in principle, have already begun to answer your question. Any state seeks to respect its national interests, and in this sense, the United States is no exception. The uniqueness of the situation lies in the fact that it is clear to everyone that after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States remained for some time the sole leader.
But this is for them a certain ambush, which is that the States began to feel like an empire. And the empire generates not only certain elements in foreign, but also in domestic policy. The empire cannot afford the manifestation of weakness, and any desire to reach an agreement on a parity basis is often perceived as weakness within the country. And this country's leadership can not afford for internal political reasons.
I think the current leadership of the States - I know about it - understands that the main problems of today's world alone cannot be solved. But I really want to, first. And secondly, it is impossible to act otherwise than by imperial methods. It is very difficult for internal political reasons. Otherwise, they will immediately blame you for weakness.
To be able to do otherwise, you should either have some kind of unlimited credit of trust from voters, public, or should something happen in the country, to change the consciousness of what to negotiate and find a compromise - it is much more profitable than to impose its point of view to all and everywhere.
Some time must pass for this understanding to prevail within one’s own country, in this case in the States. And, of course, above all in the ruling elite in the broad sense of the word. I do not think that this is impossible. I think that in general we should approach this, and I’m very much counting on it.
M.SIMONYAN: Thank you, Vladimir Vladimirovich.
Those topics that we are discussing now are, in fact, the main topics on our air. This is not an interview in the classic sense of the word. We wanted to talk with you about what we talk with the audience every day. And, of course, these topics are very different from what is in the Russian media - naturally, because they are broadcast to a completely different audience - and mainly from how it is covered in the Western media too.
We are different here, we have different, of course, values, different views on domestic Russian affairs, and on how everything should be arranged in the world, but I think I’m not mistaken if I say that we agree on one thing. . It seems to us that one should not dominate the world, including the information world.
If all the channels in a million voices tell us that the main news today - well, not today, but another day - is that in Libya hit by a NATO drone must be someone who will tell you that on the same day in Libya NATO The shell killed a family of 13 people. We just had a day when we were so different from our colleagues. We do it, we are glad that we have the opportunity to do it, because this is really what we believe in with all the differences. Today we wanted to show you how and where we do it. Thank you for coming to visit us.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Thank you for the invitation. I wish you good luck, thank you very much. Best regards, goodbye.