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Putin’s four hours of fame

on 11/01/2019

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Vladimir Putin was addressing questions on numerous subjects from the state of public housing and police corruption to ethnic tensions.

Putin offers blame but no cure to ethnic riots

The Russian Prime Minister called extremism a ‘virus’, but offered no instant remedy for the ethnic violence that has been shaking Moscow and other Russian cities in recent days.

‘Russia must suppress all manifestations of extremism, on all sides, wherever they may come from,’ Putin said in an annual Q&A session.

Putin’s comments came a day after the police detained more than 1,000 youths in Moscow and other cities in a nation-wide security sweep aimed at staving off ethnic riots from erupting following the deadly shooting of a football fan by a Muslim suspect.

Human rights leaders and independent analysts criticised Putin for wasting an opportunity to introduce a substantive cure for the xenophobic woes plaguing Russian society.

‘The fact that we are seeing the spread of the extremism virus — that is Putin’s own fault,’ said Civic Assistance Committee chair Svetlana Gannushkina.

‘We have developed a society in which protest movements are turning to fascism,” said the award-winning rights campaigner.

‘Khodorkovsky better off than Madoff’

Mr. Putin also spoke of jailed oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, already serving an eight-year sentence in a case that has become a rallying point for Russian liberals. Khodorkovsky is currently awaiting a verdict in his second trial on charges of embezzlement and money laundering.

Moving to dispel suggestions that Russia’s ex-richest man might soon win his release, Putin compared the crimes of Khodorkovsky to those of the US financier Bernard Madoff, who received a much harsher punishment for a similar crime involving similar amounts of money.

‘I believe that a thief must be in prison,’ Putin said when asked to comment on Khodorkovsky.

‘We must operate based on the fact that Mr Khodorkovsky’s guilt has been proven in court,’ Putin added.

Khodorkovsky’s lawyers said Mr Putin’s comments ‘removed all doubt about who puts pressure on the court’.

‘Russian spies don’t kill’

Vladimir Putin said the nation’s special services have abandoned a Soviet-era practice of killing turncoats.

Responding to a question if he ever had ordered special services to kill traitors, Putin said during a live call-in session on state

television and radio that such practice ended with the Soviet Union.

‘In Stalin’s times we had units of the secret service which carried out such missions if necessary, among others. Such units have long been abolished,’ he said.

However Putin also said that the ‘animal’ who betrayed the 10 Russian sleeper spies arrested in the United States

this summer will not live happily.

Russia to see out economic crisis in 2012

On a lighter note Russian Prime Minister gave an upbeat assessment of the Russian economy two years after the global economic crisis broke, saying he expected it to finally beat the slowdown in 2012.

‘We are restoring the level of our GDP to the pre-crisis level,” Putin said. ‘I think that in the first half of 2012, we will return to our pre-crisis level.’

Nevertheless, some economists are worried by expected increases in defence spending, as Russia undertakes a major army reform, and the price of hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics and the 2018 Football World Cup.

Piotr Aven, the president of the private Alfa Bank, raised eyebrows by warning that the budget resembled that of the Soviet Union before its collapse.

Aven told the Financial Times that heavy state spending was creating a ‘very dangerous’ situation for the budget.

Unanswered questions

Some of the sensitive questions appeared on public channel Rossia’s ticker line as they were sent in. However most of those remained unanswered:

– When will we have freedom of expression and free elections?

– When will the law apply to officials and the rich?

– When will we have true democracy?

– When will you finally leave politics?

– Do only those questions that are not annoying reach you?

According to the state-run Rossia television Putin received over two million questions by telephone, SMS and Internet.


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