On the eve of the G-20 summit, Vladimir Putin gave an interview to Channel One and the Associated Press. The recording of the interview took place on September 3 in Novo-Ogaryovo.
D.DANISHEVSKI: Thank you very much for inviting us here to your home and for agreeing to answer questions for the wider audience of the Associated Press.
Soon this week the G20 summit will take place, and it is very interesting. I would like to start from Syria. President Obama is now saying that he is waiting for Congress approval before starting the operation in Syria. What do you think happened about chemical attack there, and what should be done about it?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: We do not have exact information about what happened. We believe that, at a minimum, it is necessary to await the results of research conducted by the commission of United Nations inspectors. But we have no evidence that these chemicals are not yet known; this weapon chemical or just some chemical harmful substances were used by the Syrian official government army. Moreover, I have already talked about this, in our opinion, it seems completely ridiculous that the regular armed forces, which are actually attacking today, in some places they simply surrounded the so-called rebels and finished them off in essence, so that in these conditions they began to use prohibited chemical weapons, knowing perfectly well that this may be the reason for the adoption of sanctions against them, including the use of force. This is simply ridiculous, it does not fit into any logic, it is in the first place.
Secondly, we proceed from the fact that if someone has information that chemical weapons were used, and were used by the regular army, then this evidence should be presented to the United Nations Security Council. Inspectors and the Security Council. And they must be persuasive. They should not be based on any rumors, or on information obtained by the special services as a result of some kind of interception, some conversations, etc., and the like. Even in the United States there are experts who believe that the evidence presented by the administration is not convincing and does not exclude the possibility that the opposition held a pre-planned provocative action trying to give their patrons a reason for armed intervention.
D.DANISHEVSKI: We saw video footage of children who suffer from poisoning. Did you see this video too? What is your reaction?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: As for the materials, video materials that you just mentioned, which depict the dead children, and that they were allegedly killed as a result of this himataki, these are terrible images. The only question is who did what and who is to blame. These frames themselves do not give answers to the questions that I have just put. And there is an opinion that this is a compilation of the very same militants who, as we well know, and the US administration recognizes this, are associated with al-Qaeda, and which have always been distinguished by their particular cruelty.
At the same time, I draw your attention to the fact that if you carefully looked at these frames, there are neither parents, nor women, nor medical personnel in the frames. What kind of people and what happened there? There is no answer to this question. And these photos themselves are certainly horrible, but they do not prove anyone guilty. Of course, this is subject to investigation, and it would be good to know those who committed these atrocities.
D.DANISHEVSKI: What will be the Russian position if accurate evidence is presented that these attacks were carried out by the Syrian government? Do you agree with our military operation?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I do not exclude this. But I want to draw your attention to one absolutely fundamental circumstance. In accordance with existing international law, only the Security Council of the United Nations can authorize the use of weapons against a sovereign state. Any other reasons, methods that would justify the use of force against an independent and sovereign state, are unacceptable and can only be qualified as aggression.
D.DANISHEVSKI: I understand your arguments, and in this regard, I am interested that there is a question of who exactly committed these crimes. And what will Russia do, it will distance itself from the Syrian government, will it stop the supply of arms and so on?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: If we have objective, accurate data about who committed these crimes, then there will be a reaction. Now suppose and say in advance: yes, we will do this or that - it would be absolutely incorrect, they are not doing this in politics. But I assure you that we will take a principled position. I want to say that the principled position of this position is that the use of means of mass destruction of people is a crime.
But another question arises. If it is determined that the militants are using means of mass destruction, what will the US do with the militants? What will these sponsors do with the militants? Stop supplying weapons? Start fighting against them?
D.DANISHEVSKI: I believe that, according to John Kerry, everyone understands why these crimes are being committed. And we need to answer before history, and you, Russia, could be included in this process, just like the USA. Are you afraid that you can now be seen as supporting this regime, which commits a crime against its people? Is there a danger that you will be regarded as a defender of this government?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: We do not defend this government. We defend completely different things: we defend the norms and principles of international law, we defend the modern world order, we defend the discussion of even the possibility of using force exclusively within the framework of the existing international order, international rules and international law. Here we are defending, this is an absolute value. When issues related to the use of force are resolved outside the framework of the UN and the Security Council, then there is a fear that such illegal decisions can be applied to anyone and on any pretext.
Right now you said that Mr. Kerry believes that the Assad army used chemical weapons, but just the same, the other Secretary of State in the Bush administration was convincing the entire international community that Iraq had chemical weapons and even showed us some kind of test tube with white powder. All this turned out to be an untenable argument, but nevertheless, using this argument, a military action was carried out, which many today in the US call erroneous. Have we forgotten it? Do we really believe that new mistakes can be so easily avoided? I assure you that this is not so. Everyone remembers this, means and takes into account when making decisions.
D.DANISHEVSKI: As I understand it, you will not accept the evidence that has now been presented. So what will convince you?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: We will be convinced by a deep substantive study of the issue and the availability of evidence, which would be obvious and which would clearly prove who applied and what means were used. After that, we will be ready to act in the most decisive and serious manner.
K. KLEYMENOV: Vladimir Vladimirovich, is Russia still continuing to fulfill contracts for the supply and maintenance of Syrian equipment?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Yes, of course. We do this and proceed from the assumption that we cooperate with a legitimate government, and at the same time do not violate any norms of international law, any of our obligations. There are no restrictions imposed by the UN on the supply of weapons to Syria. And we are very sorry that deliveries to the militants are carried out in full and from the first steps of this armed conflict, although in accordance with the norms of international law, the supply of weapons to a conflict country is unacceptable.
K. KLEYMENOV: Allow me, I will nevertheless clarify about the most up-to-date C-300 complexes.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Please.
K. KLEYMENOV: There are a lot of talk around this - after all, Russia has put these complexes to Syria or not.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: C-300 is not the most modern complexes. True, I think their parameters are somewhat better than the Patriots, but we already have C-400 and C-500 on the way. This is a very effective weapon, of course. We have a supply contract
C-300, we have delivered individual components, but the whole delivery has not been completed, we have suspended it so far. But if we see that some steps are being taken related to the violation of existing international standards, we will think about how we should act in the future, including the supply of such sensitive weapons to certain regions of the world.
K. KLEYMENOV: The leaders of many states stated that under no circumstances would their countries get involved in this conflict. Can you say something like that?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I draw your attention to the fact that there are currently no units of the Army of the Russian Federation abroad, except for two bases in the former Soviet Union and the participation of our peacekeepers in operations within the framework of UN mandates. And this is very good, we are very pleased. We, of course, do not intend to and will not engage in any conflicts.
As for the decision of a number of countries not to take part in the military operation, frankly, it surprised me a lot because I believed that in the Western community everything is done according to certain uniformity principles, similar to the decisions taken at congresses of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. But it turned out that it is not. There are, it turns out, people who value their sovereignty, analyze the situation and gain the courage to make decisions in the interests of their own countries, defend their point of view. This is very good, it says that the world is indeed being strengthened in its multipolarity.
K. KLEYMENOV: Vladimir Vladimirovich, and what place do you think the Syrian issue will occupy on the agenda of the G-20 summit? We are meeting with you just on the eve of this big meeting in St. Petersburg.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: First of all, I want to say that the G-20 agenda has been formed for a long time, and we have discussed this agenda with all our partners. We do not consider ourselves entitled to violate these agreements. The G-20 Summit is devoted primarily and mainly to discussing issues of economic order, economic problems in the world, is devoted to the problems of growth, the fight against unemployment, corruption, tax crimes, and administration. But, of course, bearing in mind that the situation around Syria is acute, conflict, and we are not yet able to coordinate all positions on this very important issue, we can use the fact that the leaders of the world's leading economies 20 will gather in St. Petersburg and, of course, can be given some time discussing this topic. But we will not impose this, we can offer to go beyond the scheduled discussions and devote some time to discussing the Syrian problem.
I want to stress once again that we are the hosts of the summit, certain rules are in place there, there is a coordinated agenda and we consider ourselves not entitled to personally make any changes there. But I will certainly invite colleagues to discuss this topic. I hope they will not refuse.
K. KLEYMENOV: What will be the success of the summit for you?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: The success of the summit will be an open, positive discussion aimed at the final adoption of prepared decisions. What are these solutions? This is a set of measures aimed at stimulating the growth of the global economy, at creating new jobs. These are the two main, general directions. At the same time, we proceed from the fact that in order to ensure the solution of these major tasks, we need to solve several subtasks, which are stimulating investments, making the global economy more open, working in the field of, as I said, tax administration, the banking system and further and the like.
Incidentally, with regard to tax administration and improvement of the tax system - the problem of tax evasion, this is partly related to the fight against corruption. I believe that we managed to agree (but we did not do it ourselves, but together with our partners and colleagues under the patronage of the OECD), to agree on the basic principles for the development of the tax system in the world. Nobody has done this in the last 100 years. And this is a very important component of our work.
The so-called “Petersburg Plan” for the development of the world economy and the creation of new jobs has been prepared. We agreed on a number of other positions related to the fight against corruption, we agreed on what to do in the fight against offshore companies. There is a whole set, a large set of measures. Yes, of course, we will discuss the problems of world trade, world finance, and we will consider that the summit was successful if all the documents prepared in advance and in advance agreed upon will be adopted.
K. KLEYMENOV: I understood you correctly that, apart from initiating, in fact, the discussion on these key topics, Russia has something to offer our guests in solving certain problems that you talked about?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: You know, we are chairing for a year, the G-20 summit is like the quintessence, the completion of all this joint work during the year at the level of ministers, experts and so on. And in the course of these joint discussions, of course, we offered something, we were offered something. It was such a joint work, such a common kitchen, on which a pie was prepared for the G-20 leaders, who should sign their final documents.
D.DANISHEVSKI: Mr. President, let's return to the issue of relations between the United States and Russia. But let me ask one more question regarding Syria. Suppose President Obama receives Congress support for the use of violent, coercive actions. What will Russia do in this case? Will you side with Syria or will you break off relations with Syria? What will you do in this case?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Do you work in the media or the CIA? You ask me questions that colleagues from other departments should ask. These are Russia's plans in the event of a situation evolving in one, the second, or the third scenario. We have our own ideas about what and how we will do if the situation develops, either with the use of weapons or without them. We have our own plans, but for now it’s too early to talk about it.
D.DANISHEVSKI: Good. Now I would like to ask a question about the visit of President Obama. In fact, today we had to discuss the outcome of the summit, which was supposed to start today, I mean the summit with President Obama. Are you disappointed by the cancellation of this visit?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Yes, of course. I would like the President of the United States to visit Moscow, so that we have the opportunity to talk with him and discuss the backlog of questions. But I do not see in this and any special catastrophe. The fact is that contacts between our departments, between ministers, and between ministers of the most diverse directions, they do not stop. Most recently, the Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation, the Minister of Foreign Affairs visited Washington. We have contacts between parliaments. That is, the work is underway, it still does not stop. We understand that in connection with Russia's position on some issues, there is some irritation in the American administration. But nothing can be done about it. I think that actually it would be good not to get annoyed, but to be patient together and work on finding solutions.
I very much hope that I will be able to talk with my American colleague on the margins of the G20 summit in St. Petersburg. All our previous meetings were very constructive. President Obama is a very interesting conversationalist and a concrete, businesslike person. I am sure that if the meeting occurs even within the framework of the work, during the G-20, on the margins of the summit, then it will be useful in itself. But in any case, we have a lot of questions that we dealt with, in the solution of which we are interested. This is the disarmament agenda; these are the same issues related to the development of the world economy; These are issues related to North Korea, with Iranian issues. And many other topics and problems in the solution of which both the United States and Russia are interested. Say, the same problem of combating terrorism. Most recently, the Americans experienced a tragedy, I mean the explosions during sports competitions. And our law enforcement agencies, special services, have actively cooperated with each other, and continue to cooperate. And this cooperation is clearly in the interests of the American people, and in the interests of the Russian people. This cooperation has not ceased, and I am sure it will develop.
D.DANISHEVSKI: Some people talk about your personal relationship with President Obama, about your established warm relationship. Many people comment on your sign language, which often indicates that you are bored while talking to him. What is your reaction to these comments? Are they true what you think?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I think that everyone is in his place, I mean those involved in politics, economics, security, disseminating information, everyone is trying to show his best qualities, including those observers that you speak up I am surprised to sometimes read about sign language, about what we miss or somehow behave differently. Who can say, besides ourselves, what is in our head and soul? There are some gestures, which, of course, are read unequivocally, but no one has ever seen such gestures on either of me to Obama or from Obama to me, and I hope that this will never happen. And everything else is fiction.
I repeat once again, I have already said this, we always have conversations that are very constructive, very substantive and quite frank. In this sense, the President of the United States is a very good interlocutor, it is easy to talk with him, because it is clear that a person wants, his position is clear, he listens to the position of another interlocutor, opponent, reacts to it. I'm interested in working with him.
D.DANISHEVSKI: Do you think that we are still experiencing the consequences of the “cold war” in relations between Russia and America? And how is it possible to overcome this?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: In part, this is so. But this, above all, concerns, you know, this, I would say, the average level of interaction in virtually all environments and areas. Many people, especially in the power structures, who have worked for decades in the USA against the Soviet Union, and in the Soviet Union against the USA, somehow remain in that frame of reference and in that life. But I would really like to think that this is not reflected at the highest political level. And our current disputes do not even stem from this, they stem from a different understanding, probably the problems we face, from different preferences of means to achieve common, I repeat, common goals, and also the ability or inability to seek compromises and respect the opinions of our partners .
D.DANISHEVSKI: When you were running again for the presidency, many said that the arrests that took place were intended to weaken the enemy. Do you think that Americans are related to the latest events that occur and unfold in civil society?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I didn’t quite understand what arrests you were talking about that could affect the course of the election campaign in Russia. What kind of arrests were there in Russia that could affect the course of the election campaign? If you explained to me, I would be very grateful to you. I do not know of any such arrest that would affect the course of the election campaign in Russia, there were no such arrests. Or if our law enforcement agencies attracted someone for something, then in such situations, as a rule, a very good way of protection is to shout: “Help! This is a political affair! ”I don’t even know such people. What are you talking about?
D.DANISHEVSKI: I think that it is often believed that the US State Department is interested in weakening its rival and causing unrest in Russia.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Sometimes we have such an idea, I tell you frankly, I told my American colleagues. I don’t know if it’s good to talk about it in the media, but in principle this is understandable, so I’ll say. I can hardly imagine that the Ambassador of the Russian Federation in Washington would actively work with representatives of the Occupy Wall Street movement. I just can’t imagine such a thing, because the ambassador’s role is to establish interstate relations. This is a fine job. With all the complex problems, there must be a person or people on both sides, who are able to bypass sharp corners, seek compromises, reach agreements. Well, as we have seen, the staff of your embassy behaved exactly in this direction, it is the same as if we would work, I repeat, with representatives of Occupy Wall Street. We are not doing this, but some staff at the US embassy think this is normal. I think this is not consistent with diplomatic practice. But we didn’t begin to inflate some kind of hysteria about it, so we looked from the outside: well, if so, such a manner, okay. But this did not lead to any negative consequences in our relationship. I think that this practice is wrong and harmful, but this is apparently the style of some of the heads of the relevant department. People come, people leave, and the interests of such huge states as Russia and the United States remain and we must work.
D.DANISHEVSKI: And as you said, is cooperation between intelligence services developing at the same level, despite some irritation in the relationship?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: No, at the level of special services, there are also failures, of course, when we transmit some information, and we are told: well, okay, you can figure it out without you; we say: well, then it is not necessary, but in general, cooperation is developing successfully, it is useful. I am sure that this work allows us to save the lives of our citizens, this is the most important, the most important result of working together in this direction. I once again want to express the hope that we will be able to further deepen and develop this cooperation.
K. KLEYMENOV: Vladimir Vladimirovich, if you summarize this conversation about Russian-American relations, how would you characterize these relations at this stage? You know, President Obama’s program in Russia was announced today: immediately after his arrival, he meets with human rights activists and representatives of sexual minorities. And the comments have already been heard, this is a sign of the level of our current relations.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: This is the practice of American diplomacy - to show support for civil society. I see nothing wrong here. On the contrary, we welcome it. That was a complete cut and understanding of what is happening in our society. It would be very good, of course, if the diplomatic service, the embassy, special services, they exist for this, would give a complete, complete and objective picture of the state of Russian society, and not just from one angle. Although this is also an important thing, it is an important look at how people who are involved in the protection of human rights are organized and feel.
K. KLEYMENOV: And yet, if you define this relationship, was there a restart, is it freezing now, cooling?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: No, this is just an ongoing work, upholding one’s interests, one’s principles on solving international and bilateral issues. This is not an easy, tense collaboration. Yes, it is not covered with roses, flowers. This is a difficult job and sometimes it is difficult, and there is nothing special here. But neither President Obama was elected by the American people to be pleasant for Russia, nor your humble servant was elected by the people of Russia to be pleasant for someone. We work, we argue about something, we are people, sometimes someone gets annoyed. But I repeat once again, global mutual interests, it seems to me, are still a good foundation for finding joint solutions.
K. KLEYMENOV: September is also the beginning of the political season in Russia, it is not only the time of the summit. We have elections very soon. September 8 in many regions will elect heads of regions and legislative assemblies. As usual, on the eve of the vote, a lot of public opinion polls were conducted. You know, some polls showed pretty unpleasant things. Quite a lot of people do not believe that the elections will be fair. You such results can not be depressing.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: In general, we hardly believe in anything, it’s basically normal, people should always doubt. The point of the government is still striving for an ideal result, although there are probably no ideal results, probably never. Still, it is the duty of the authorities, the matter of honor of every local official, election commissions, law enforcement agencies to organize the case properly, so that people can really objectively express their attitude to certain candidates, and the will of people would lead to the formation of effective and efficient authorities. We are extremely interested in this, extremely interested. Because how effectively people will work in municipalities, in regions, the overall success of Russia as a state will largely depend. And if these are people who are ineffective and those who make their way to power through some kind of manipulation, then this will certainly only harm the country as a whole.
K. KLEYMENOV: You know, I, in continuation of the topic of objectivity and justice, want to ask about the judicial system, or rather, about some of the decisions that this system gives rise to light. Here is a certain, concrete, however, example - a mediocre official in court received several years conditionally for the proven theft of 400 of about one million rubles, and at the same time a rural teacher, who part-time manages a local club, for taking a bribe in size
400 thousand rubles receive seven years of strict regime and 3 million rubles compensation fine. He, if I am not mistaken, is a father of many children. You know, well, I do not even ask about the logic of these decisions. I, of course, understand that you cannot say that the judgment was unfair there. But it seems that this state of affairs is, of course, impossible to tolerate, the system needs to be changed, this is some kind of nonsense.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: You know, seemingly almost the same thing outwardly, but according to the logic of the legislator, crimes still have different social dangers. For example, the damage to the victim may be the same, say, a million rubles. Someone has stolen a million rubles, and someone has been robbed for a million rubles, only robbery is a more socially dangerous crime, committed with greater audacity. Despite the fact that the damage is the same for the victim, it is still a punishment for the robber, it is usually more than for the one who committed the seizure of material or cash in the amount of one million in secret. When a thief steals, he assumes that the victim does not see what he is doing, and the robber knows in advance that the victim sees everything, understands, and he nevertheless defiantly commits such a crime. The damage is the same, and the punishment may be different, and this, by the way, is justified.
The example you gave, of course, does not fit completely into the one I have cited.
K. KLEYMENOV: Yes, this is an example with a specific last name.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Yes, but now I am saying that outwardly it can be the same thing, but in essence, in the thought of the legislator these are still different crimes.
This case, of course, blatant. There are certain sanctions, within the framework of these sanctions, the judge himself chooses a certain decision on the advice of his colleagues, of course. There may be different assessments of this public danger. A bribe is a more socially dangerous crime than just a theft. Do you understand? This is the obvious thing. But there may be mistakes. Here in the United States, for example, the death penalty is applied. Everywhere, in the countries where the death penalty is applied, and we have had it, there are cases, and they are not of an isolated nature, when after the execution of the death penalty it turns out that the person is not to blame. So what about this? What, close all the courts or what? No, it is necessary to improve the judicial system, improve legislation, make it more transparent, adequate to the present day and to the public relations that are regulated by a particular law. These are issues of improving the judicial system. But it is not a question of the fact that it is not suitable anywhere, it needs to be completely broken. This is not the case; the Russian judicial system has its deep roots. The Russian judicial system is an integral part of the international, global judicial system. Our law, it has enormous historical roots, it is part of the continental law of Europe, and very many principles of the organization of our law, law enforcement practice in no way inferior, and in some respects even better than laws and law enforcement practice in other states. Yes, there are problems, there are many of them, we must work with them.
K. KLEYMENOV: In your opinion, can a court in Russia be called independent?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: The court in Russia, of course, is independent. Where the judge does not want to be independent, there is no independence there, he can run to the governor and consult with and consult with that. But I assure you, almost everywhere. But in general, if the judge takes a principled position, no one can do anything with him. In today's conditions of modern Russia, I think that no one will want to, because he has very big power and procedural rights.
D.DANISHEVSKI: Since we are talking about legal issues, the Edward Snowden case caused some discontent and disappointment in the United States. You, as a former special services person, how would you react to the behavior of people like Snowden, who allowed the leakage of secret information?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: If it was really secret information and if such a person would cause us any harm, then surely I would strive for him to respond to the full extent of Russian law.
D.DANISHEVSKI: And in this regard, do you think that the US administration is right that it requests its extradition from Russia and asks you to send it back?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: It is possible that yes. See, the problem is absolutely not that. The problem is that we do not know whether the rights are administration or not. And the problem is not that we defend Snowden. We do not defend him at all. The problem is that we don’t have an agreement on mutual extradition of criminals with the United States. We have repeatedly offered the United States to conclude such an agreement, and were refused.
There are certain rules and procedures in the world, according to which a criminal can and must be extradited to the other party, if there is a corresponding agreement in which many things are spelled out and certain guarantees are given. But the United States refused to sign such an agreement with us. And our criminals, who have not given out any secrets, but who have blood on their hands, who killed people, who trafficked people, and our American colleagues know from this, we are not given out. We cannot evaluate whether Snowden committed a crime in the United States or not. We just can't do it. But we, as a sovereign country, without having such agreements with the United States, cannot do otherwise than to allow it to live here.
So I’ll tell you right now what I’ve never said, hinted, but didn’t tell directly. Mr. Snowden first appeared in Hong Kong, met with our diplomatic representatives. I was informed that there was such an employee, an employee of the special services. I asked them: "What does he want?" - He is fighting for human rights, for freedom of dissemination of information, struggling with violations of human rights in this area and with violations of the law in the United States and with violations of international law. I say: “So what? If he wants to stay with us, please, he can stay, but only in this case he must stop all activities that would destroy Russian-American relations. We are not NGOs, we have state interests, and we do not want to destroy Russian-American relations. ” He was told about this. He said: "No, I am a fighter for human rights, I urge you to fight with me." I said: "No, we will not fight him, let him fight." And he left, just left, and that’s all.
Then he began to fly to Latin America by plane. To me that Mr. Snowden is flying to us, they said two hours before the landing of the aircraft. What happened next? There is a leak. Representatives of the American special services, I think, let them not be angry with me, they could act more professionally, and diplomats, by the way, also. After we learned that he was flying to us, and that he was flying in transit, they put pressure on all countries where he could get, on all Latin American countries, on European ones. Instead of him traveling to some country with a light operational regime, or maybe on the way they could intercept him, by the way, they did with the landing of the President’s plane of one of the Latin American countries, which, by the way, is completely unacceptable on my opinion is rude and unworthy of neither the United States itself, nor your European partners. It is simply humiliating. In regards to Snowden, this could be done. What prevented something? No, everyone was scared, he automatically stayed with us at the airport, sat down here and here. And what should we do after this? Give it there? Then enter into an agreement with us. Do not want, do not. Give away our gangsters. Do not want, do not. And why do you require us to unilaterally issue? What kind of snobbery is this? We must take into account the interests of each other, we must work and seek professional solutions.
Therefore, we do not defend Snowden, we defend certain norms of relations between states. I very much hope that in the future we will come out with the United States on the relevant agreements and will be able to fix them in legal and binding documents.
D.DANISHEVSKI: Did Edward Snowden offer Russia any secret information or confidential information?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: No, he did not offer us anything, we did not receive anything from him and we don’t even have that desire. We proceed from the fact that we, too, are professional people, that everything that he could say, everything is already known to our American intelligence service colleagues, they have already stopped all possible risks for themselves in this regard, they replaced everything, destroyed it, changed it. What is the use of it? But we didn’t even want to get involved, do you understand? He is a completely different person; he can, of course, be served as you please. I understand that it is beneficial for the American special services to file him as a traitor, but he is a completely different mindset, he feels like a fighter for human rights. He may not be recognized as such, but this is already the case of those who give assessments, but he positions himself this way and behaves exactly this way with us. We have no desire to involve him in some kind of cooperation, to extort some information from him. He never tried to give us anything, and we did not try to get anything out of him.
D.DANISHEVSKI: So, theoretically, he could live to old age in Russia?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: You know, I sometimes thought about him, he is a strange guy. Young man, 30 is a little over his age, what he thinks to himself, I can not imagine. How is he going to build his future life? In principle, he condemned himself to a rather complicated life. What he will do next, I can not even imagine. But it is clear already that we will not give him up, he may feel safe here. But then what? Maybe some time will pass, and America itself will understand that it is not dealing with a traitor and a spy, but is dealing with a person who has certain beliefs, they can be evaluated differently. And, perhaps, some compromises will be found in this case too. I do not know, this is his fate, but he chose her and did it on his own. He believes that it is noble, that it is justified, and such sacrifices are needed, it is his choice.
K. KLEYMENOV: Vladimir Vladimirovich, if you please, a few questions about the economy. During a recent trip to Vladivostok at a meeting with students, you have mentioned that the Government will have to cut planned expenses. And immediately such a dusty word "sequestration" was remembered. Still, it is, first, about the budget of the current year or the future? And in general, what is the size of these reductions?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Let me remind you that a sequestration is a gross reduction of all expenses, without exception, by a certain amount, regardless of priorities. This sometimes happens in the economies of the world and is associated with some sharp changes in the economic situation and negative trends in the economy. We don’t have such a situation now, we don’t have a minus, but we have a small, but still, an increase compared to last year. But the problem is that we assumed that growth will be greater, and if growth is greater, then budget revenues are greater. And initially we planned to spend more money on various programs.
Now it is obvious that today the forecast is slightly different, the economy is growing, but slower, incomes will be less, which means we will need to spend more carefully. This is not a sequestration, but we need to make another forecast for the development of the economy and, on the basis of this forecast, based on the realities, outline the costs and determine priorities. I think that something will have to be reduced. But the Government itself should offer this during the work on the budget.
K. KLEYMENOV: So the articles are not yet defined?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: No. Do you understand what the danger is, if you do not do this? We will then follow the path of those countries that climb into large deficits and lead to a buildup of public debt. If we don’t do anything, then in 14, we will have one volume of deficit, in a year it will be even more, then even more, and we will get into a very difficult situation. If we are responsible people, if we want to feel confident, more modest, maybe at some stage of life, but confidently, to know that nothing crashes, nothing explodes and collapses, then we must act carefully and professionally. That's what it is about.
K. KLEYMENOV: More modestly. What are people waiting for? Do they need, just in case, to start saving? Just in case.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: No. After all, people's incomes are growing as a whole. Maybe modestly, and not in all categories, but, despite the fact that the growth rate of the economy is not the same as we expected, and incomes are growing, the Government will nevertheless have to offer solutions in the sphere of investment activity, maybe social, I don't know. This, I repeat, is a complex, multi-faceted work. When it is finished, the Government will submit its proposals.
K. KLEYMENOV: I would like to ask you to return to another recent story - the attack on a Moscow policeman in one of the capital's markets. After this story got a huge response, measures were taken immediately, as we say, in the country, tough decisions, many violations were revealed. You know, this is an amazing thing. Why did it take your personal attention to this topic, your personal participation to reveal these violations? In general, there is a feeling that there is a significant amount in the public administration system, I don’t know, perhaps, conformists, maybe opportunists, who are not able to make independent decisions and act promptly.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I myself think about it. You know, I recently watched the footage, when young guys “bombed” drug dealers, grabbed them on the streets and so on. I myself had a thought, well, that no one knows why these men should ...
K. KLEYMENOV: They are sprayed with paint.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: ... yes, do it. This suggests that somewhere the eye is washed up, somewhere it acquires such a nature of everyday life, somewhere it is the result of corrupt law enforcement. This is a set of reasons. Well, you just have to fight it.
K. KLEYMENOV: But is the system still on manual control?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: In some ways - on the manual, in some - no, somewhere it functions in the normal, normal mode, but when it fails, you have to turn on the manual control.
K. KLEYMENOV: How is the Far East now on this trip?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Not really. Here I disagree with you, because the Far East still faced an unprecedented disaster. The old-timers do not recall such a flood at all; there has never been a general flood of water in Khabarovsk, in Komsomolsk-on-Amur, in the Jewish Autonomous Region. You know, when I flew by helicopter, it seems that you are flying over the sea. The only thing that immediately returns to the sinful earth is that roofs stick out of this sea. Immediately you understand the horror of what is happening. The scale is enormous, and therefore I think that the interference of the President is quite reasonable here, this is normal.
K. KLEYMENOV: The scale is really colossal, but it was after your offer to eat to the bland officials that the situation of the people who ate this bland in the evacuation center ...
VLADIMIR PUTIN: As you noticed, I didn’t stomp my feet there, beat them with my fists and immediately fire everyone. You see, here's another thing. People worked there day and night. Please note, thank God, we have no victims. God forbid, to continue to be.
K. KLEYMENOV: There is no looting.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: There is no looting, there is no crime, an increase in crime, and so on. In principle, they worked day and night, saving people, took them out of their places of residence, where the water came great. It was believed that they were transported to these barracks, thank God, everyone is alive and well, nothing, let's do other things, but not like that, just like that. You can not throw people there, so that, as they wrote, they painted the walls themselves and ate balanda. I had to remind you, there is nothing terrible here. I apologize to those people who are in this position. If local officials have not apologized so far, I apologize for them, but we must correct it and restore order. I think that a lot has already been done there, and no one will allow anything like that further.
D.DANISHEVSKI: The Olympic Games are coming very soon, and it seems that everything will be built on time. But recently a resonance news in connection with the adoption of legislation against persons with non-traditional sexual orientation. Will this cause any negative consequences for the Olympic Games?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I hope that there will be no negative consequences, all the more so since we do not have laws against non-traditional sexual orientation. Now you have said this, you kind of create the illusion of millions of viewers that we have such laws, and in Russia there are no such laws. In Russia, a law has been passed to ban propaganda of non-traditional sexual orientation among minors, these are completely different things, this is the first thing.
Secondly, we see that attempts are being made to somehow discredit the holding of future Olympic Games, including on this basis. And, unfortunately, we see these attempts, including from the United States. In this regard, what would I like to say? We, firstly, people of non-traditional orientation are in no way impaired in any professional sense, nor in the level of wages, or, finally, even if they reach some heights in creativity, in work, they are not impaired even in terms of recognition of their results by the state, I mean rewarding them with orders and medals. They are absolutely full and equal in rights citizens of the Russian Federation.
Meanwhile, those who are trying to teach us, in particular, some of our colleagues and friends from the United States, would have to know that in the United States there are a lot of problems with homosexual people. Do you know, for example, that in some states, in the United States, still non-traditional sexual orientation is considered a criminal offense? In particular, in Oklahoma, as I was told, and in Texas. Maybe those who told me about it are wrong, but you check. And if this is true, then the situation is generally very strange when we are trying to be taught by those who themselves are not an example to follow. And the statistics, and some independent non-governmental organizations are keeping such statistics, they say, I’m not saying that this is the case, but they even claim that in some American companies, gay people are disadvantaged even at the level of wages, and they say that there is statistics. I do not know, but I need to check. But you know that a non-traditional orientation is a criminal offense, you know, such an atavism has long been eliminated from us.
We had, in my opinion, the 120-I article in the Criminal Code of the RSFSR, which was punishing non-traditional orientation. It has long been canceled, we have nothing like this! And in some countries it is. But it seems to me that it is better for us not to squeeze in with each other, not to try to portray someone as savages, and others - as civilized people, objectively, professionally and in partnership to address human rights issues, and in this field, too, do not push elbows, and, giving an objective picture in this area, jointly seek solutions.
D.DANISHEVSKI: When it is said that the promotion of unconventional sexual orientation is a crime, would it be a crime to carry signs that symbolize such a relationship? This is a rainbow, rainbow signs.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: It will not. We have people who initiated these laws, and who passed this law (by the way, I was not the initiator of this law), proceeded from the fact that same-sex marriages do not produce children. And Russia is experiencing difficult times, in terms of demography. And we are interested in the families to be full, to have more children. This is far from the most important thing in the whole system of measures aimed at supporting demographic processes. But I think that the authors of this law proceeded primarily from the need to solve problems of a demographic nature and were far from restraining the idea of someone’s rights. And it is certain that during the Olympic Games, other mass sports events, especially the Olympic Games, one can be absolutely sure that Russia will strictly adhere to the principles of Olympism, which do not allow people to be discriminated on any grounds, according to nationality, by gender or the one you mentioned, by reason of sexual orientation.
D.DANISHEVSKI: It was recently said that President Obama would like to meet with LGBT people. Would you do the same in the run-up to the Games or in general?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: If someone wants to meet with me from them, please, but so far there has been no such initiative. We have all sorts of groups, many different organizations, associations, I, as a rule, meet with everyone who makes a request for a meeting and offers to discuss some kind of problem that he considers important. While there were no such proposals. Why not?
I assure you that I work with such people, I sometimes award them with state medals and orders for their achievements in various fields. We have absolutely normal relations, and I do not see anything special here. They say that Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was a homosexual, though we love him not for that, but he was a great musician and we all love his music. So what? You shouldn't make an elephant out of a fly, nothing terrible here in our country and the terrible does not happen.
D.DANISHEVSKI: In connection with the holding of the Olympic Games, some are concerned about the issue of security. We know that some terrorist groups have already expressed their threat to security at the Games. What additional measures might be taken, given the events in Boston, for example, in order to ensure safety at sporting events?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Terrorists always threaten someone. If we are afraid of them, it means they won. But this does not mean that we should not care about these threats. We must do everything in order to stop them, these threats, and not give the terrorists any chance to show their cruelty and hateful activities and policies. Of course, we carry out a very large range of activities aimed at ensuring the security of the Olympic Games. I assume that our special services and law enforcement agencies will certainly be able to do this.
What could be done additionally for safety? In this case, cooperation between colleagues on the law enforcement track is extremely important. I must inform you that we have relevant agreements with American partners - and through the FBI, through other special services - with European partners. All these people are aware of their responsibility to athletes, to sports fans, to the audience. And I hope that their joint work will be effective and will ensure the complete and absolute security of the Olympic Games in Sochi.
D.DANISHEVSKI: Another question on the Olympic Games. I understand that you spent 50 or 60 billion dollars preparing for Sochi in order to build facilities, infrastructure, roads. Please explain whether such investments are justified for your country? I think that your country has invested much more than any other country in preparation for the Olympic Games.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Our country has invested perhaps more money in general in preparation, but our country has not invested more money than any other country, in fact, at the Olympic venues. In total, 214 billion rubles will be spent on preparations for the Olympic Games. You can easily calculate how much it is in dollars, for one dollar today they give 33 rubles. Of these, 100 billions are pure state funding, and 114 is at the expense of investors. More money spent on infrastructure. We did it consciously. We did this to ensure that the south of the Russian Federation, and Russia is a fairly northern country, was attractive and comfortable, and not only during the Olympic Games, but also for decades to come. So that our citizens do not go somewhere on vacation, to Turkey, to Europe, to Italy and so on, but leave their money here, so that our region, good enough in climatic conditions, would provide our citizens with opportunities for rest all year round. And we would be able to do this without the Olympic Games. But I think that you will understand me, it is very difficult in the conditions of constant budgetary constraints, but when there is an Olympic Games, then we have to do this, fifth, tenth.
And what exactly? We have built hundreds of kilometers of new roads, dozens of bridges (dozens of bridges!) And tunnels. We actually built two new roads, one was reconstructed, it is, in fact, like new, and the second is completely new, highways from the coast to the mountain cluster. We built a railroad from the seashore to the mountain cluster. We have laid two additional gas pipes to provide energy in the region. We built a power station and
17 substations. We created a new medical center, we built 43 hotels with tens of thousands of modern hotel rooms. All this, I hope, will serve people for decades to come. And this is not a pity for money, because this is money so that citizens of the Russian Federation can use what has been done, as I have already said, for decades, it was done for people, and not just for holding these major competitions. Of course, this is interesting, it is prestigious, but this is not the main thing for us.
And there is another component, which, in my opinion, is very significant - it is the promotion of sports and a healthy lifestyle. When such mass sports events take place in the country, of course, people who begin to engage in physical culture and sports, it becomes much more than before the events of this kind. This is the main component of why we go to such expenses. And where to spend, if not for people? We have revenues from, say, the oil and gas sector. We spend a significant part of it there.
Among other things, you know, in the period of 2008 - 2010 in the conditions of crisis, the construction of Olympic facilities was a very powerful anti-crisis measure, because we created several thousand jobs there, and specialists from all regions of the Russian Federation arrived. We built whole cities there. This improves the quality and level of our construction organizations, it contributes to international cooperation, some issues were rather difficult to solve. I very much hope that the existing work collectives, at least some of them, will then be used in various regions of Russia, including, perhaps, in the south, to continue the construction of infrastructure facilities.
D.DANISHEVSKI: Can you now predict the results of the game of the Russian hockey team?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Of course I can.
D.DANISHEVSKI: Well, we'll see.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: And what will you see? I did not say what my predictions are.
D.DANISHEVSKI: I thought that you would predict the victory of Russia. We know there will be a lot of snow.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I hope that there will be a lot of snow, I hope that everyone who comes to the Olympic Games, and athletes, and coaches, specialists, spectators, journalists, that they will all fall into the holiday atmosphere, and we will be able to create this environment , it will be possible to be hospitable hosts, and it will be possible to hold the Olympic Games at the highest level.
K. KLEYMENOV: Vladimir Vladimirovich, you know, we all depend to some extent on the historical context. Here is the year of the 100 anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War, the war that led to the collapse of the Russian Empire. And then, in many respects, the disloyalty of elites to their own state became the cause of the collapse. Then some similar allusions can be traced back to 91, when the Soviet Union died. In your opinion, are today's Russian elites loyal to the state?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: It's not just the elites, there are always some bacilli in society that destroy this social organism or state organism. But they are activated when the immunity falls, when problems arise, when the masses begin to suffer, millions of people. These millions already believe that there will be no worse, let's change something at any cost, we will sweep everything out, “we will build our own world, whoever is nothing will become everything”. In fact, it did not work out as we would like.
As for loyalty or disloyalty of elites. Perhaps, perhaps, there is such a specific problem, Pushkin, in my opinion, by the way, no one will suspect him that he was a state or royal satrap satrap, on the contrary, he was a freedom-loving man, he was friends with the Decembrists, and in this no one doubts, but even he once said: "We have a lot of people who stand in opposition not to the government, but to Russia." Unfortunately, our intelligentsia has such a tradition. But this is due to the fact that you always want to emphasize your civilization, your education, you always want to navigate to the best examples. Well, maybe this is inevitable at some stage of development. But, without any doubt, this loss of state self-identity during the collapse of the Russian Empire, and during the collapse of the Soviet Union, was destructive and destructive. It is necessary to understand this in advance and not to allow such a state in which it was at the final stage of the First World War or, for example, in the last years of the Soviet Union, when we already had some kind of soap dispensed.
Remember the anecdote when the family comes to visit another, and she is asked:
- Will you drink tea with sugar?
- Yes, with sugar.
- Well, then you will wash your hands without soap.
Jokes are jokes, but people apparently thought that there would be no worse. But we all need to understand that as soon as the revolutionary begins, not evolutionary, but revolutionary changes, it can be worse, and much more so. And I believe that this understanding should be, first of all, just among the intelligentsia. And it is the intelligentsia that should, understanding this, warn against sharp movements and revolutions of various kinds and sense. We have enough, we have already experienced so many revolutions and wars, we need decades of calm, rhythmic development.
K. KLEYMENOV: That's about a calm, rhythmic development. If you allow, the question about Ukraine. Why can't we calmly and rhythmically develop together? Why can't we create a common space with the people with whom we live for centuries nearby, we have a very similar mentality? You often meet with the Ukrainian leadership. What is the catch after all, in your opinion?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: You know, no matter what happens, and wherever Ukraine goes, we will still meet somewhere and somewhere. Why? Because we are one people. And, as it were, what I have just said is not that the nationalists on both sides are angry, and we, and Ukraine, have nationalists, in fact, it is. Because we have the same Dnipro Kiev font, we certainly have common historical roots and common fates, we have a common religion, common faith, we have a very similar culture, languages, traditions and mentality, as you rightly said. There is, of course, its own characteristics and its own ethnic coloring in everything. By the way, Ukrainian culture, Ukrainian language, dance, music, they are wonderful. For example, I always admire this.
And you now mentioned the revolutionary events after the First World War, I draw your attention, and you spoke about the elites. Is that curious? Both the white movement and the red fought each other to death, millions of people died during the civil war, but never raised the issue of secession of Ukraine. Both red and white proceeded from the integrity of the Russian state.
As for this part, Ukraine, this is the edge, we understand and remember that we were born, as I said, from the all-Ukrainian Dnieper font, Russia originated there, and we are all from there. It so happened that part of this territory was in the hands of various states that were to the west of these territories, and all these years, all these centuries, the Ukrainian people suffered great hardships, in fact, they suffered, they were in such a slavishly humiliating situation. Only after the reunification of both parts of Russia did this part of Ukraine begin to develop and, in fact, flourish. During the time of joint coexistence, Ukraine has become a large European state, having received additional territories, a population, and this at the expense of Russia, at the expense of some regions in the west. The Soviet Union made such exchanges and awarded Ukraine with these territories.
K. KLEYMENOV: In the south.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: In the south, it does not matter, in any case, it has become a large state. Enormous investments were made in infrastructure, industry, and so on. But it so happened today that we live in different states. We must proceed from reality, we must proceed from the fact that a significant part of the Ukrainian people treasures independence, that is, independence. It is necessary not only to accept it, it is necessary to respect it. By the way, only with respect for mutual interests and such approaches can we solve common issues of common interest.
With regard to integration processes, we must also respect Ukraine. If Ukraine believes that it needs and it is more expedient to conclude, say, an agreement on a free trade zone with the European Union, then so be it. But we see certain problems here for us and for them. What are they? What is a free trade zone, associate membership? I do not remember how these documents are called there, but I know their essence.
The bottom line is that Ukraine undertakes additional obligations to reduce customs protection, customs barriers. For a significant group of goods, what I’m saying is clear, you don’t even need to be an expert, Ukraine for some time, and for some at once, zeroes import duties - this is the first. And second, introduces the European standard of regulation, technical regulation. Now I will say what it is. When duties are reset, a foreign-made product appears on the Ukrainian market, and their enterprises are working, where should they put their goods? We have a fear that they will be squeezed into our market, the market of the Customs Union, the market of Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus. But we did not agree that this will create problems for our economy, this is the first.
And second, what does it mean to introduce technical standards overnight? This means that Ukrainian enterprises will have to produce everything, I don’t know, an elevator, a car, a shirt, a watch, etc., all other goods according to EU technical regulations. They are good, but they are very tough, and for enterprises to work this way according to these regulations, multi-billion investments are needed, time is needed. I doubt that it is possible to do it overnight. In the meantime, this will be done, many enterprises will go bankrupt, or, again, will push goods into our market. We will have to close, that's the problem. And this is what can lead?
We have obvious competitive advantages: we have a common transport infrastructure, common energy, we have deep cooperation, we have a common language. These are great competitive advantages, they will disappear. I can hardly imagine how the rocket and space industry of Ukraine will develop. She is a very solid and rocket industry and aviation. I just can not imagine without our market. Aviation engineering. Our all helicopters are equipped with Ukrainian engines, what should we do? How will it all develop, or will it not be at all?
Therefore, the question is not whether we want or do not want, hold or not hold. We ourselves are negotiating with the European Union. And we think about the free trade zone, we are thinking of concluding a new basic agreement. But you know, I, after all, have known our European partners for a very long time, they are very good guys, with them you can also give up German beer, drink schnapps, and drink a glass of French or Italian wine. But when they sit down at the negotiating table, they are very tough people, very pragmatic, and getting something from them is a difficult task, you know.
Therefore, it seemed to me that if we, within the framework of a single economic space, together defined some principles, then it would be much more difficult to talk, say, to Europeans with us as part of Russia-Ukraine-Kazakhstan-Belarus, than one by one, especially in a relationship directly with only one Ukraine. Well, let's see what will be the choice of the Ukrainian leadership. To anyone, whatever choice is made, we will treat with respect and, of course, we will continue to work. But the question is simply how we will work, what we will have to take to protect our own interests. We'll see.
D. DANISHEVSKI: When you talked about the intelligentsia, I was curious about two things. Do you think a lot of Russians are leaving Russia? Is it correct? Is this in the spirit of the times? I would also like to talk about the pre-election race for the post of mayor of Moscow, where one of the candidates is from the opposition. Will it be right if he becomes mayor of the capital?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: The first part of the question is that they are leaving. You know, we have an open country, thank God. And the fact that a person has the opportunity in our country to choose any place of residence and place of work, to do it freely, is a very great achievement of modern Russia. You cannot blame people for looking for a decent job for themselves, and find it, if they find it, somewhere outside the Russian Federation. Our task is not to “grab and not let go,” as we say, but to create, on the territory of the Russian Federation, decent living conditions and wages for highly skilled professionals. In some ways we already succeed, somewhere not yet.
I am now, just now, returned from the Far East, where in the newly opened university I spoke with the specialists of the new university medical center. And there are specialists who returned from abroad, in my opinion, from Singapore, the doctor returned, and he was in good standing there, a good doctor, a good specialist. I asked him: “And what have they returned?” He says: “Well, how can such opportunities work on such equipment, the conditions are good. To return to my homeland, in the environment of my native language, I will do it with pleasure. ”
The same thing happens in some scientific fields. Labor always, conditionally, of course, I say, but people, especially with high qualifications, are always looking for places to make the best use of their knowledge and abilities - this is absolutely normal. We must work towards returning those who have left and creating conditions for the work of those who work here so that they will not go anywhere. For scientists, it is a laboratory, place of residence, housing problem, level of wages. All this is not done overnight, all this should gradually grow. I repeat, something can be done, something is not there yet, but we know in which direction we need to move.
Now, regarding the election of the mayor of Moscow. Whoever is elected by the Muscovites, the federal government will work with any future mayor of Moscow - this is an obvious fact. Today, however, in all sociological polls Sergei Sobyanin, the acting mayor of Moscow, is in the lead, I don’t remember how many percent, for 60, I think. Moreover, such figures give research of various independent sociologists, I think that they are objective, not even what I think, I do not even doubt it. He is a very experienced person, calm, he is not very public, to some extent even such a silent one. I love these people. He says less, does more. It seemed to me that people felt it, it is very important.
If suddenly it happens that someone from the opposition will overtake him in this - well, so be it, will work. But the work of managing such a megalopolis as Moscow is, requires knowledge, requires a great deal of experience and skills. It’s not enough to shout “Guard, hold the thief!” Or “We will all be jailed for corruption tomorrow,” or “We will come tomorrow and give everyone thousands of dollars to begin with, and then five more.” This is usually the pre-election campaign all. But to work systematically, quietly, without noise and dust, but to achieve results, it is much more difficult. I think Sobyanin can do it. Look at the results.
D.DANISHEVSKI: I believe that after Mr. Navalny was sentenced to imprisonment, he was detained, then many people took to the streets, is this normal behavior towards the opposition?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: This attitude is not towards the opposition, but towards a person who, in the opinion of law enforcement agencies, allowed a violation of the current law. After all, wherever this gentleman appears, there he always watches, as we say, there is always some kind of problem: either alcohol, they say, or the alcohol factory there dragged it, then there were some problems with the forest, then he found companies for border, he did not declare them. This is an obvious fact.
As for the case you are talking about, I, of course, do not know him in details, but I know that there are court convictions in this case. And the people who received the conviction, agreed with him and even refused to challenge him. So this is not the case when they simply grab the oppositionist for the fact that he is scolding the authorities; there is something to think about and talk about to the court and law enforcement agencies in general. But to ride the fashionable theme of the fight against corruption does not mean to be able to govern the city.
12-million and most effectively deal with this corruption. In general, if a person speaks about the fight against corruption, he himself must be, above all, immaculately clean.
D. DANISHEVSKI: Do you think that opposition parties in Russia are truly independent or do some have to work with the Kremlin to some extent in order to get along with the established system?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Everyone works this way, I think the same is true in the United States and in any other country. There are, of course, situations and there are political groups who prefer not to have any contacts at all. But this is the path to nowhere, this is the path to confrontation and unrest. But the fact that after the adoption of our laws on the liberalization of the activities of political parties, we have increased the number of parties represented at elections at various levels (in municipalities, in regions), this is a fact, at times there is simply an increase. Are they independent or not? Of course. Of course, completely.
At the same time, there are political parties that themselves try to improve relations with the authorities, try to make them more constructive, try to achieve changes in the activities of the executive authorities. There are those who simply criticize and offer, as it seems to them, more rational and effective ways of solving problems that the region faces, or the country as a whole. But the fact that they are independent is an obvious fact. Now you have mentioned some of our oppositionists. Are they — are they dependent, or do you suspect them of that?
D.DANISHEVSKI: Well, I think that there is a certain tame opposition and a tougher opposition. And sometimes the degree of their independence varies. For example, Navalny criticizes essentially the system. And what does he need to succeed in this system?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: This gentleman saddled a very fashionable theme of the fight against corruption. I repeat once again, in order to fight corruption, first of all, you need to be crystal clear yourself. But there are problems. In this regard, I, unfortunately, have a suspicion that this is just a way to win points, and not a true desire to solve problems. But no matter, you would listen to what others say, for example, the chairmen of other parties, say, the Communists represented in parliament, how they criticize the government, how tough, how our Social Revolutionaries sometimes criticize the government, we have such a Just Russia party. Or Mr. Zhirinovsky sometimes falls so heavily on the federal, and sometimes on the regional power, that Mama do not grieve, as we say. And those forces that are not represented in parliament, there are generally dozens of them now. There it’s even hard to say who, what and how criticizes the current government. I would like not so much to have less criticism, but I would like that it was the best way to be literary framed. Well, that's our political culture. I think that gradually there will be positive changes.
D.DANISHEVSKI: Speaking of political philosophy, I can say that your political philosophy is a mystery. I would like to ask you, are you a conservative, a Marxist, a liberal, a pragmatist? Who are you, what is your political philosophy?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I think it is quite possible to say that I am a pragmatist with a conservative bias. It may even be difficult for me to decipher it, but I always proceed from the realities of today, from what happened in the distant and recent past, and try to project these events, this experience for the near future, for the medium and long term. What is it, a pragmatic approach or is it conservative, you yourself, please, determine.
D.DANISHEVSKI: I think many people become conservative with age.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: You are probably right. And nevertheless, I think that there is a certain sense in this, conservatism does not mean stagnation at all. Conservatism means reliance on traditional values, but with an indispensable element aimed at development. This, it seems to me, is absolutely fundamental thing. And, as a rule, in the world, in almost all countries, the situation is such that conservatives accumulate resources, accumulate funds, opportunities for economic growth, then revolutionaries come, they all quickly share it one way or another. But revolutionaries, conditionally, it can be just representatives of left-wing movements, left-wing parties or, indeed, radical people, then they quickly share everything, everyone likes it. Then there comes a period of disappointment: it turns out that everything has already been eaten and spoiled, and we should earn it again. People realize this and again the name is Conservatives. They again harness themselves, begin to work, again to accumulate something, then they are again told: ok, that's enough already, they have accumulated, enough, it's time to divide. Here is a constant cycle in politics.
K. KLEYMENOV: I would like to ask you a question on a topic that was actively discussed in the blogosphere after your vacation.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: What about pike?
K. KLEYMENOV: First, everyone discussed the pike, they tried to weigh it in the photo, see how thick and long it was, and then they began to discuss that there was nothing at all because the clothes were the same There was a few years ago on photos and watches.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I have the same watch all the time, and the clothes, first of all, are new. It is very similar, it's just hunting camouflage, but a new one, it was acquired for this trip - this is the first.
The second. I really caught a pike. This is my first pike in the life of this size. There she still had fish inside, pike inside, grams on 250 or on 300. Therefore, I think it was so heavy. I dragged her for three minutes, it's all fixed. After that I changed my attitude to fishing. I, frankly, was such, well, no fisherman. But it gave me a certain interest in fishing. By the way, I caught her on such a small spoonful that I think produces a small family business in Krasnoyarsk, it is called “Tsar-fish”. This is a small business. And the spoon is so called: "Tsar-fish." I specifically took a photo and wanted to send it to the producers of this spoon, but I don’t have time to do it. But I hope that I will do it.
K. KLEYMENOV: What an advertisement will be!
VLADIMIR PUTIN: And rightly so, they deserve this advertisement, because this is the result. But I think that there is nothing surprising that such a useless angler, like me, caught such a pike, because there are almost no people there, that is, not almost, there are no people there. The nearest housing is 300 kilometers away from this lake, the lake is high mountainous - at an altitude of 1 700 meters, there is no one there who could catch this fish. So, well, what is it? Apparently, this is not such a great prowess. But after that, I think I’ll do fishing seriously, I liked it.
K. KLEYMENOV: Thank you.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Thank you very much.