Ahead of Russian Press Day marked on January 13, Vladimir Putin met with heads of Russian print media and news agencies in the editorial office of the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper. The discussion focused on current professional issues. The President congratulated media representatives on their professional holiday.
January 11, 2018
In December 2017, during Vladimir Putin’s annual news conference, Komsomolskaya Pravda correspondent Alexander Gamov invited the President to visit the newspaper’s editorial office. Before meeting with heads of Russian print media and news agencies, Vladimir Putin toured an exhibition devoted to the newspaper’s history, learned about the work of its editorial office and wished the listeners of KP radio station a happy New Year in a live broadcast.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon. I congratulate you all on your professional holiday. Press Day, right?
Editor-in-chief of the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper Vladimir Sungorkin: Russian Press Day.
Vladimir Putin: My congratulations to all those involved in this wonderful profession, an interesting, very important, difficult and, sadly, occasionally a dangerous one, but very important. I congratulate you and wish all the best to you, to all your colleagues, to everyone who works at both print and electronic media outlets, in internet media.
People in your trade are interesting, unconventional, creative, and often very talented. I would like to express my hope that all those qualities, all the talent and efforts will serve the good of society and Russian citizens.
Remark: Thank you.
Vladimir Putin: I will conclude my short speech, my introductory remarks, on that note. Let us just have a talk, as we oftentimes do at meetings like this.
Vladimir Sungorkin: Mr President, thank you for coming to Komsomolskaya Pravda.
I have a question for you not as the President, but as a presidential candidate. This year, we will have, I think, a record number of those who wish to lead our dear mother Russia. What are your thoughts on the large number of potential candidates? Do they motivate you, or just the opposite? What are your feelings on going up against 15 rivals, I believe?
Vladimir Putin: I think it is normal and good. To some degree, the pre-election period always strains society, because, unfortunately, there is also a lot of “foam” bubbling up, but still it is good because it gives people a chance and a reason to speak out, to discuss how different people approach these problems.
In general, I think it’s useful. It keeps the discussion fresh and sharpens it. The main thing is to do everything according to the law, as well as certain ethical and moral values. This is the most important element; and on the whole these campaigns I have just mentioned, while they have downsides, they still benefit society. This is why I welcome it. I will be glad to see and to hear interesting, elegant and useful proposals for the country’s development.
Editor-in-chief of the Kommersant newspaper Sergei Yakovlev: Mr President, I would like to continue with the topic of the election.
Alexei Navalny was not allowed to participate in the election. We immediately heard criticism from Washington and a number of European capitals. I would like to know what you think about this and how you see the situation?
Vladimir Putin: First, I would like to say that no one likes when others interfere with their internal political affairs. Our American friends particularly do not like it. We can see their reaction even to unreliable information on our interference, we can see how sharp the reaction has been, aggressive even, I would say. The experience of American election campaigns shows that they hardly allow anyone in.
The situation with our media which were promptly labelled foreign agents and their performance impeded, in a pretty aggressive and spiteful way, I would say this speaks exactly to how they react if someone influences the domestic political situation somehow, especially during the pre-election period.
The fact that they do that themselves, at least make these attempts, is regarded by them as normal, which is absolutely wrong in my view. And if they poke their nose in everything, they should be ready to respond to certain challenges which they actually encourage themselves.
I would ask you not to take this as if we are interfering with something. We are not going to interfere. I am just stating the fact that nobody likes it when someone interferes with their business yet they are happy to intrude into others’ affairs. This is the first thing that comes to my mind regarding some reactions by the US Congress followed by the Department of State on the fact that someone was not allowed. This is the first instance.
The second instance. The character you mentioned is not the only one who was banned. For some reason others were not announced. This seems to reveal the US administration and other nations’ preferences regarding who they would like to promote in Russia’s politics and who they would like to see among the country’s leadership, if not the leader. And apparently, these are the people they count on, they rely on. And in this case, they gave themselves away, they would have done better if they had kept silent.
The key is not who was allowed to run and who was not, because this is standard practice. The key is to understand and to follow the spirit of the law for us inside the country. To understand that any violation of the law, no matter who it is committed by, is intolerable. And that’s it. Including during the election campaign.
Rossiya Segodnya Director General Dmitry Kiselev: We have just celebrated the New Year. I understand you rang it in amid freezing temperatures in Russia. Meanwhile, as many Ukrainian media resources reported, Poroshenko, the President of neighbouring Ukraine, rang in the New Year in the Maldives where he rented a whole island. Apparently, it was there that he shouted “Glory to Ukraine!”
Meanwhile, Donbass exists. It is home to millions of people who did not recognise the coup d’etat in Kiev, and on the whole their fate is not to be envied. There is little good news out of there. True, recently a prisoner exchange took place there but it was incomplete. Otherwise, there is shooting and people get killed almost every day. Does Donbass have a future? Is it a frozen conflict? It seems Europe is ready to forget about it. Or am I mistaken? Russia’s maneuvering is probably also limited to an extent, is it not?
Vladimir Putin: First, I always spend the New Year and all other holidays in Russia. This is simply a tradition. To be honest, I do not even want to go anywhere. I spent the New Year holiday at home and then went to Siberia for a couple of days. The temperatures were really freezing there – minus 33 C – but I like it this way.
As for the President of Ukraine, I do not know where he spent his New Year holiday but I do not think there is any shame in the President going abroad and spending some time with his family there.
Dmitry Kiselev: But he is saying that the country is at war and yet he goes to the Maldives. How come?
Vladimir Putin: I do not know anything about this. I do not know anything for sure and so it is difficult for me to comment. At any rate, he is a wealthy man and can afford to go with his family abroad, to the Maldives or whatever other islands.
As for settlement prospects in Donbass, it seems to be turning into a frozen conflict. Nobody, including Russia, has any interest in this. We would like this situation to be resolved. But a settlement should not cause concern among those who live on this territory. I do not want to predetermine anything now. I have said this many times. I would like to repeat: Russia would be fairly content if the Minsk Agreements were carried out in full. I am referring to their implementation on a full scale – not just selectively as some prefer. All those who live in Donbass should find such a settlement suitable, and it should include a law on the special status of Donbass. This is the second point.
Third. Regarding our relations with Ukraine in general. It is totally abnormal that instead of constructively advancing relations between the two close, brotherly nations and between what are essentially parts of the same people, we see what is unfolding today. I expect that after the Donbass issues are solved, and this will happen sooner or later, there are no doubts about it – inter-state relations between Russia and Ukraine will begin to normalise in general.
As you know, even in 2014, we began the transfer of military property and equipment. Several trainloads were sent from Crimea to Ukraine. The Ukrainian side repeatedly raised the issue of returning military equipment from Crimea. I would like to use the opportunity, as they say, and I want to say that we are ready to continue the process. We are ready to hand over naval ships to Ukraine that are still in Crimea, we are ready to hand over air force and armoured equipment. To be honest, it is in miserable shape but that is none of our business, it is in the same condition as when we got it, and it certainly has not been serviced in all these years. However, it concerns dozens of ships, dozens of warplanes.
As to the ships, I think it will be better if Ukrainian service personnel arrive and take them, we are ready to help them move the ships to Odessa.
There is also a considerable store of ammunition, but according to our military experts, the ammunition may not be transported; it is dangerous, so it must be disposed of on site. We are ready to invite the Ukrainian military for the ammunition disposal. But these are just the most necessary external steps.
Despite all the complexities and problems, trade between Russia and Ukraine increased last year, and the increase was significant. It is a good sign that we have fundamental resources to restore relations in general.
Editor-in-Chief of Nezavisimaya Gazeta Konstantin Remchukov: Mr President, I would like to touch on two interconnected topics – they are staffing for management processes in the country at all levels, in all industries…
Vladimir Putin: What kind of staffing?
Konstantin Remchukov: Staffing for management processes. And connected to that is the problem of social lifts for the young. I am a member of the Supervisory Council of the Leaders of Russia contest initiated by you. I remember when we gathered for the first meeting in the autumn, we expected seven to eight thousand people to take part in the contest. Mr Kiriyenko,