Interview with Time Magazine
First of all, I would like to thank you on behalf of all my colleagues for your hospitality today. Second, we consider
that it is a great honour for us to be able to conduct this interview. Your cooperation with Time magazine means a lot
to us. Its result will be a serious material, and quite broad in nature and scope.
I want to start with the first question. You were born in 1946 - I was born in 1948. We belong to the same generation.
We grew up in countries that lived with the unavoidable presence of the enemy. But historically, and in most major
conflicts - World War One, World War Two - Russia and the United States have been allies. And now, in large part thanks
to your role, Russia is cooperating in the struggle against Islamic terrorism.
In view of our history, how would you predict the development of relations between Russia and the United States as they
resolve global problems in the future? How would our generation assess their future prospects for cooperation?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: If you will allow me, I will correct you a little bit on certain dates. I could not have been born in
1946 because at that time my father was suffering from the wartime wounds and my mother survived the Leningrad blockade.
After they had lost two children and their health it was unlikely that they could have thought of having another child
right away. And I think it is for that reason that I was born a little later, in 1952. But this does not change the
essence of the problems and the issues you raised - this is absolutely correct. How we conducted our relations
previously, how we should conduct them in the future. And I understood what you are asking. I will allow myself to
answer this question in a slightly philosophical way.
It is true that during humanity's two major tragic conflicts, the first and second World Wars, Russia and the United
States were allies. So there is something that objectively leads us to come together in difficult times. I think we do
so probably because of geopolitical alignment and geopolitical interests. But, obviously, there is also some kind of
moral component in our cooperation during the most difficult times.
Of course the Cold War period was a tragedy in our relations. And I would very much like to see us overcome this
inheritance from our previous relations, both today and in the future. I think that you will not be offended, you wanted
me to be honest and I will allow myself to speak frankly. It seems to me that over the past decade, and perhaps even
during the past 50 years, the idea of American exceptionalism has captured the public consciousness of the American
population. Perhaps there are specific reasons for this, there is a historical phenomenon whereby in 250 and some odd
years a small colony became a prosperous world power, one of today's leaders. This bears witness to a great deal, namely
the talent of the American people and the optimal arrangement of the political and economic spheres. But, as a rule,
leaders do not benefit from special rights. In general, they receive responsibilities. And if leaders start to believe
that they have special rights then they often lose their leadership position.
And when we had two major world communities, the so-called Western bloc led by the United States and the Eastern bloc
led by the Soviet Union, then we had the possibility of maintaining rigid discipline within this bloc mentality, this
form of interaction. But today, when the overwhelming majority of the international community does not feel the same
external threat that used to exist, and I would ask you not be offended by what I am saying, and one country starts to
dictate an agenda in international affairs, this will not meet with understanding but rather resistance.
Today's world requires that we use other methods and instruments to communicate with one and other, and other ways to
fight against today's threats. In order to be successful today we need to be able to negotiate and find compromises. And
the ability to compromise is not just a diplomatic formality you reach with a partner, rather it is respect for their
legitimate interests. In that case, when and where we are able to work in such a regime, where and when we are able to
reach an agreement in light of each other's interests, each other's real interests, we will arrive at the right results.
QUESTION: What would be an example of this?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: The North Korean nuclear issue. There we have had patience, adopted a serious attitude, started thinking
about each other's interests and all the interests linked to this issue, and the problems we are trying to resolve in
North Korea itself. And through this approach, we might not have fully resolved this problem but we have at least made
significant progress. And wherever we cannot be guided by these basic considerations, wherever certain steps are simply
a tribute to a given country's economic or political egoism, then we are not able to reach the agreements that would
allow us to truly solve today's problems. You mentioned one of them. But it is not only terrorism. Incidentally, I would
not add the adjective 'Islamic' to a definition of terrorism. In our opinion and according to my own personal
conviction, terrorism does not have a national or religious component. Terrorism is international. And there are
extremists in all fields, in all countries, and, if you want to talk about the religious component, in all
denominations. From time to time something simmers and then occasionally erupts. But we are not fighting with any kind
of religious manifestation, but rather with the ideology of intolerance, in whatever form that may take.
So that's an area in which we really are beginning to take into account each other's interests and achieve long-term
solutions. And, unfortunately, wherever we are unable to cope with our political or economic selfishness, we will not
find such solutions.
But I think that the understanding that we need to behave in precisely this way - taking into account the interests of
the international community - is prevailing. And as an example I would point to the meeting on the Middle East that was
held in Annapolis. I am deeply convinced that President Bush has taken on an enormous responsibility, and a personal
assignment, and I would like to congratulate him. I think that he has done a good thing. This represents a serious step
towards resolving one of the most difficult, pressing and long-standing issues in the international arena, namely the
Middle Eastern peace settlement. For our part, we will do and have done everything to support him and we will do
everything possible to continue working together in this same regime.
QUESTION: Thank you. Another question. You strongly supported the United States after September 11. You were one of the
first to call President Bush. How successful would you say the American war on terror has been? You said that terrorism
is a universal phenomenon. You said that the response to 11 September should be primarily like a police action rather
than against an individual country. Was it a mistake to invade Iraq and, if so, how serious a mistake was it?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Our position on Iraq is well known. I believed from the outset that it was a mistaken decision and said
so publicly. Not only is there no reason to change these views today but, on the contrary, all the events over the past
years show that this attitude was correct.
If we look at a map of the world then Iraq is much less noticeable than, say, Russia or the United States. And it seems
easy to 'crush' such a small country. But the ramifications, the 'splashes', are such that even today we don't know what
to do. This is a small but very proud people. And problems have arisen, problems that were not visible before. People no
longer perceive the occupation as part of the fight against Saddam Hussein's tyrannical regime, but rather as a personal
insult. And terrorists capitalize on this. And while there were previously no terrorists in Iraq, they have now
Nevertheless, I believe that we should now talk less about what was done well and what was done incorrectly. I don't
think that this will help resolve the situation today. Today we must think about what to do next, in the near future.
And in general I agree with President Bush when he says that we need to do everything possible so that the Iraqi
authorities are able to resolve their security problems independently. We need to help them create their own army,
security services, police and to transfer this type of issue to the Iraqi people.
But where my opinion and George's diverge is on the issue of timing. He does not think it possible to impose a timeframe
for the withdrawal of foreign forces from Iraqi territory. In my opinion, it would be better to do so and would
encourage the Iraqi leadership to be more active. Because if they know that American bayonets will always be there to
protect them, it is possible that some would find this situation very comfortable. And, on the other hand, if they know
that there is a deadline after which the American and other troops will go, then already today they will have to do
something to prepare for that date. I believe that this would be the best option. But ultimately this is a decision that
we must take together within the framework of the United Nations.
QUESTION: You have obviously followed the publishing of the CIA report according to which Iran has no active nuclear
weapons programme. A few months earlier you had already said the same thing. How would you evaluate the reasons that the
American government has made this public only now? Does this reduce the likelihood of military actions against Iran?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: We need to ask the Director of the CIA and senior officials in the American administration why they
chose to do this now, and why they did it at all, just as you need to ask why they destroyed the records of the
interrogation sessions of suspected terrorists. These are not questions to me, but rather to them.
As for whether it reduces the threat of military action? If this CIA report has been published simply to divert the
Iranians' attention from the real preparations for military action, something that is theoretically possible, then I
believe that this would be very dangerous because any military action against Iran would represent yet another very big
mistake. And if we assume that the report was actually published to provide an objective picture of events, then this
simply confirms that the Russian side, in formulating its foreign policy position on a given issue, is guided by
objective data. And I cannot help but be happy about this. This also bears witness to the fact that there are people in
the American administration who believe that we need to speak the truth. And this too pleases me. This shows that we,
basing ourselves on objective data, can construct an honest dialogue.
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr President.
Many of our questions will be based on how we perceive the American people's interest in Russia. And it was recently
announced that the presidential candidate will be Mr Medvedev. The American media explained this choice of candidate in
light of the fact that you will likely become Prime Minister. This is one of the ways to be a national leader. Americans
have some trouble understanding this. You recently referred to Franklin D. Roosevelt as a model in this regard. As you
know, he was president for a third and fourth term. But after his tenure the presidency was limited to two terms. Many
Americans believe that 'he is trying very hard to get around this, to assume a leadership position for the future by
enhancing the powers of the Prime Minister and weakening the position and functions of the President'.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: What you just said at the end is the most important point. One could hold such a view if I changed the
Russian constitution to my own, to my personal benefit and, let's say, removed the restrictions on numbers of terms
served, or changed the distribution of constitutional powers between the Prime Minister and the President and took on
the Prime Minister's seat. But I believe that this would be both unacceptable and harmful for Russia. Russia is a
country, much like the United States, that needs a balanced and yet strong presidential power. And I am categorically
opposed to infringing on the constitutional rights of the Russian president. I think that this would be harmful.
I have not yet decided whether I will apply for the position of Prime Minister or not. If so, I intend to exert under
the Constitution and the law only those powers which are vested in the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, and
deal with current economic and social problems, namely roads, housing and education. Incidentally, these issues are the
most pressing ones for the ordinary citizen. But the key political, administrative and personnel prerogatives, both
defence and international affairs will, of course, remain with the President and should remain within this level of
Now, as to the thesis about the national leader. I don't think that this is an administrative or even a political
category. A leader is not determined by the number of telephones at a given working desk. Rather, it is a moral category
and it is founded on the people's trust.
As to the Roosevelt model. We believe that we should carefully analyze what happens in other countries, everything that
happened in Russia's history, and in other countries' history. Roosevelt is a very sympathetic figure, an outstanding
statesman not only for America but internationally as well. He was our ally during World War Two. Let us recall the
years in which he became president, the most difficult years of the depression, the Great Depression in the United
States. And he gave the American people confidence and optimism in the country's future and won the war against fascism
as our ally. Of course it was with us, together with the Russian people, but he was the leader of the United States at
the time. And it is likely that at that time such forms of political governance, namely reducing the restrictions on the
possible number of terms the president could stay in power, were in demand. Later the American people made a different
decision. And this is America's sovereign right. How we arrange our authority structure is Russia's sovereign right. My
personal opinion is that the number of terms should be limited.
QUESTION: As you know, the American presidential campaign is beginning. Any candidate, including even the current
president, can be but envious of the popularity ratings that you have in Russia. That is why our readers, the American
people, cannot understand why the Russian pre-election campaign was not more open. And why was Mr Kasparov arrested,
even for a short time? And why would you, Mr President, such a popular man, not allow the press and the opposition to
proceed freely? In the American context, doing so would have made you even more popular.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Why do you think Mr Kasparov was speaking English rather than Russian when he was detented? Did this not
occur to you? I think that first and foremost his deeds were not aimed at his own people but rather at a Western
audience. A person who works for an international audience can never be a leader in his own country. He should think of
the interests of his own people and speak in their native language.
And now about 'enviousness'. Envy is a bad feeling and encourages misconduct. One simply requires a good analysis of
what is happening and the corresponding reaction. Along with this, the reaction to events should be designed to
strengthen relations between peoples and states. We expect that this will take place in the future.
I do not want to offend anyone, but let us recall that the elections for the first term of the current President of the
United States were associated with certain difficulties. After all, the fate of the presidency was solved in a court of
justice, rather than by direct plebiscite. In Russia, the head of state is elected directly by secret ballot, and in the
U.S. by an electoral college. As far as I remember, in the first case the electoral college voted for a president who
had less of the popular vote than the other candidate. Is this not a systematic problem in American electoral
legislation? And I would like to draw your attention to the fact that, I think, at the end of the 18th century there was
another president elected in a similar way. We do not force you to change your laws, we believe that this is the
sovereign right of the American people and the legislators. Why do you believe that you have the right to interfere in
our affairs? And, frankly speaking, this is the main problem in our relations.
Indeed, in recent years it is as if people are saying to us: we are waiting for you, we want to welcome you into our
family, into our civilized western family. But, first of all, why have you decided that your civilization is the best?
There are many civilizations that are more ancient than the American one. And, second, we are quietly made to
understand, people whisper in our ear, that 'we are ready to accept you but you should understand that we have a
patriarchal family. We are more senior than you and you must listen to us'. Indeed, this is the continuation of the
first question that you asked.
In today's world such relationships no longer have a place. The 'bloc' mentality should be phased out, and instead we
should adopt a completely different system of international relations. A system that does not just take into account
each others' interests, but also develops common rules, known as international law. And we should strictly abide to
these rules. Ultimately this could provide stability in the world and protect the interests of small countries but also
large ones, and even super powers like the United States.
And now, with regards to detention and so on. You know that everyone received the right to express their opinion, just
as they will have the right to do so during the presidential election campaign. And in accordance with the law all
participants in the parliamentary and presidential elections have access to the media, but not only that. If you look at
some television channels, the so-called opposition figures were simply permanent features there. Yes, they appeared less
on other channels but they definitely appeared within the legislative framework. And on some channels they appeared
They had important, very important financial support. They had every opportunity to publicly express their views, to
clarify their positions in the streets and town squares, but where permitted by law and the local authorities in
accordance with the law. However, if they see their task as more than simply expressing their views, then they have
another task: provoking the law enforcement agencies, ensuring that they are detained, and then appealing to their
supporters, in this case not within the country but abroad, to show that there are problems in Russia. And in this sense
they have of course achieved their goals and will achieve them in the future because we are going to continue to require
that everyone comply with the laws of the Russian Federation.
QUESTION: Are you still concerned about the opposition's capacity to destabilize Russia? You are very popular, but all
the same you see this as a threat?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: No, if you look at the election results, they got 0.9 per cent, not even one per cent. How can this be
worrying? In political terms there is no worry. That is not what is at stake! The point is that I see this as an
instrument that foreign countries are using to interfere in Russia's domestic affairs. This is the heart of the matter.
As to detention, I would like to repeat to you once again that everyone, all the people who have different opinions from
the authorities on a given issue, will be given and have been given the opportunity to express their views, and express
them publicly. This is not the problem. The problem is if they want to do more than simply express their opinion, if
they want to be detained, and if they want to provoke the authorities into taking tough action. We have already said to
them: please go ahead, you can hold demonstrations, you can come with posters and with slogans. But they don't want
that. They want to go where they are not allowed, where they disturb the life of a city in which millions of people
live, where authorities cannot ensure security. And when they execute these violations consciously, then the authorities
react accordingly. And I want to say this to you and I want to say it with full responsibility: the authorities are
going to continue to respond in this way. But if people act within the law and abide by the law, then they will receive
the right to protect their legal and constitutional rights and interests. And we will punish those who infringe on this
and the officials who prevent our citizens from enjoying their constitutional rights.
QUESTION: Mr President, you mentioned that external forces are interfering in Russia's internal affairs, and now you
have the opportunity to intervene in America's internal affairs. Is there a candidate that you would support in the
upcoming American presidential election? Do you see anyone among Republicans or Democrats who you think would make a
good American president? Maybe you could even influence the American elections?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I see that you did not understand anything I said. The principle that guides our work is our sense that
it is harmful to interfere in other countries' internal affairs. We would not allow ourselves to intervene, and we are
not preparing to intervene in other countries' affairs.
You know that, strangely enough one of my European colleagues said: 'I thought that Moscow supports a given candidate'.
I was extremely surprised to hear that, since we do not work this way. We think that this is simply indecent and
harmful, and harmful to ourselves because if we were to allow ourselves to do so, then we would compromise the person
that we wanted to see at the head of a given state. Because the population of a given country can start to doubt which
interests a given person in the public authorities is representing. We have no particular preferences in this matter.
And, moreover, I am deeply convinced that independently of whoever is elected to this high office as President of the
United States of America, the objective course of international affairs and the mutual interests of Russia and the
United States will inevitably push the Russian and American leadership to construct a good partnership.
Look at what is happening in the world. We are seeing rapid growth and new emerging economic and, therefore, also
political centres of influence. The world has changed a great deal and in the next 30-50 years will change even more.
QUESTION: Are you referring to India and China in particular?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: India, China, Brazil, South Africa and several other countries. Japan has also become stronger. I am not
saying that this is good or bad, I say that it will be different. And I am therefore absolutely confident that Russia
and the United States, not only today but also in the future will need each other even more and need to have good
relations. And the future Russian and American leaders who understand this will be in demand and be successful.
QUESTION: If possible, I would like to return to the issue of national leader. As you said, this is not a political or
an administrative category, rather it is a moral one.
But how should we understand this situation? Suppose there is a national leader in a given country whose authority is a
moral one, Mahatma Gandhi, for example, who was not part of administrative or political structures but, rather, acted as
a touchstone for the system of government and the state. But what happens if a person who has such a status in their
country remains part of the governmental institutions and takes a position in accordance with the Constitution, even
though it is not technically the highest position? Does this not create an imbalance? How effectively can you avoid
creating an imbalance?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: This means that such a person exposes themselves to danger because they carry a great responsibility in
decision making, and certain decisions may not be met 'with hurrahs', but rather with misunderstanding and even
resistance. But in that case you need to prove your point, be honest with people, conduct a direct dialogue, and prove
that perhaps these are not very pleasant but nevertheless necessary measures. And that in the final analysis these
measures will have a positive result in the medium- or long-term perspective. But it is very important that people
believe that this will be the case. And this means that such a person should never lie. Everyone has the right to make
mistakes but you have to be honest with regards to your actions and try achieve a positive result.
And if such a dialogue exists, then it is the best guarantee of success.
QUESTION: You are in an interesting position: you grew up in the Soviet Union, and you were committed to the Soviet
system, but you are a pioneer in a new system in a very old country, in Russia today.
What are the key differences between the two countries in which you have lived? What do you think should be preserved
from the Soviet Union, what should be discarded, what does the new Russia need, and what does it take to be able to
learn from the past?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: First and foremost, you are absolutely right. Russia is an ancient country with historical, profound
traditions and a very powerful moral foundation. And this foundation is a love for the Motherland and patriotism.
Patriotism in the best sense of that word. Incidentally, I think that to a certain extent, to a significant extent, this
is also attributable to the American people.
What do we need to unequivocally leave behind? We need to get rid of the Soviet legacy according to which we are trying
to lead the world socialist or communist revolution and become leaders, international leaders of this movement, a time
in which we tried to impose a certain way of life on other countries. I think that this is an error that was committed
by other countries in addition to the Soviet Union, but it is obvious and applicable to the Soviet Union. And we
undoubtedly need to move away from this.
What do I think is, in general, possible to preserve and what should we develop? I would answer the major traits. We
need to develop respect for our history, despite all of its flaws, and love for the Fatherland. We need to pay the
utmost attention to our common moral values and consolidate Russian society on this basis. I think that this is an
QUESTION: To develop this theme further, you already said that the world will change in the next 30-50 years. And what
will be Russia's place in the next 30-50 years?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: You see, you can never, we can never escape the Cold War mentality and superpower way of thinking.
I just mentioned that the Soviet Union wanted to be the leader of a global communist revolution. That was a big mistake.
We would not like to repeat these mistakes in the future. We do not want to be a superpower that dominates others and
imposes its decisions. But we want to have enough forces to defend ourselves, to defend our interests, and to build good
relations with our neighbours and key partners. So that in turn, these partners are interested in developing and
strengthening the Russian Federation. This is no easy task and can be done only by consolidating Russian society and by
increasing its economic opportunities. And this will be our task in the medium- and long-term future. And if we
accomplish it, then Russia's worthy place in the international arena will be secured.
QUESTION: Do you think the United States needs a strong Russia or not?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I think that the United States is already aware, and will further understand in the future, that only a
strong Russia is in the fundamental interests of the United States.
QUESTION: I would like to touch on the topic of NATO. Can we consider NATO as a living organism, or it is still the
legacy of what you were just talking about, the world divided into blocs? What is its purpose today? If, for example,
Russia was offered the chance to join NATO, would you join?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I would not say that NATO is the stinking corpse of the cold war. But it is certainly something that is
a holdover from the past. There is no point in pretending otherwise, let's look at its history: first NATO was created,
and then, in response, the Warsaw Pact was created. It was two military and political blocs opposing each other. If we
say that we need not only a new architecture, but also to use new principles to promote international understanding, if
we recognise the need to seek common ground and compromise on the basis of respect for each other's interests within the
framework of a multipolar world, an organisation such as NATO is not a panacea for today's problems. How, for example,
can NATO effectively fight terrorism? Did NATO prevent the September 11 terrorist attack on the United States that
killed thousands of Americans? Where was NATO to respond to this danger, to eliminate it, to protect America from it? It
didn't, it couldn't, because these threats can be addressed only by increasing trust in each other by interacting on a
regular basis with countries who can deal with such threats. Of course one of those countries is Russia.
Russia is not going to join a military-political bloc in order to limit its sovereignty, because participation in a bloc
is of course a restriction of sovereignty. But we want to have good relations, not only with the United States but with
all countries, including the member countries of NATO and with the organisation itself.
Certainly in a general sense NATO can be an instrument of international policy and can help in solving certain problems.
But I think that the organisation itself has to change a lot. Already it is impossible for someone to line up,
discipline, or drive other countries into a corner, because things are different today. If previously the United States
bore the greatest burden and subjected itself to danger defending the Western world from the threat of the Soviet Union,
today there is no such threat, because there is no Soviet Union. Therefore within the organisation they have to
construct relationships according to other principles.
And this involves the fight against crime, against drugs, which really do damage to our countries, against terrorism and
organised crime, and ultimately against poverty, which is one of the causes of terrorism. For this we need a wider
sphere of cooperation than is available within a single military-political bloc.
QUESTION: Mr President, you mentioned organised crime. One impression that the Americans have about Russia is that
corruption there is widespread, and that this is an obstacle for you. How are you dealing with this issue? How can you
resolve it? How can you control corruption?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Unsuccessfully. We are addressing this issue unsuccessfully. Our attempts to control corruption have
been unsuccessful. Here I must say something that I think you already know: that in a transitional economy and during
the restructuring of an entire political system, dealing with such issues is more difficult, because unfortunately there
is no reaction from civil society to this. Unfortunately we must speak frankly and openly admit that we have not worked
out a system that encourages social control of the activities of public institutions. We have tremendous opportunities
in terms of the acquisition of material resources and money available to specific individuals and specific companies.
But incomes in the public sector for government officials still do not correspond to the nature of the decisions that
they have to make. That is, the payment for their labor, on the one hand, and the importance of the decisions they take,
on the other, are incompatible. Still, in the public mind it is not yet fully understood that the activities of
officials on whose decisions billions depend should be rewarded appropriately so that there is no temptation. All of
this, including increasing opportunities for the media to expose corruption, all of this together is certainly one of
the tasks that we have to deal with together. I am absolutely convinced that by strengthening the political system,
civil society, by improving market mechanisms, including making governmental and administrative decisions about economic
management, that, eventually, we can address these problems more efficiently than we are doing today.
QUESTION: You mentioned civil society. I would like to take up this question from a slightly different angle, from the
point of view of religion. You yourself have talked repeatedly about faith . What role in your view does faith play in
your leadership? And speaking of religion, what role should faith play more generally in one's life and in society?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: In addressing management issues, in the formulation of management challenges, first and foremost we must
of course be guided by common sense. But that common sense should be based on moral principles. There is no morality or
virtue in the world that exists in isolation from religious values nor could there be in my view. That's all I want to
say. I could say more, but I would like to stop there, because I do not want to impose my views on people who have a
different opinion about this. There are such people in Russia and they are entitled to their opinion.
QUESTION: Could you say a little more about this: do you believe in a supreme being?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: You know, there are things that I consider someone in my position should not submit to public display,
because it ends up looking like an exercise in self-advertisement or a political striptease. I think both are
QUESTION: I want to change topics. In some venues people write that Mr Putin is a man of the market, that he understands
the market and he believes in market mechanisms. It would be interesting to know how a career KGB officer who grew up in
the Soviet Union, became a man of the market? Is this a question of continuous learning, of education? Where did you get
your market education, what is your market philosophy, and what nourished your intellectual development in this regard?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: First, I did graduate from Leningrad State University. I was trained in law, not economics, but there
are many areas in which law and economics are very closely related. This is not only in civil law, but also in other
areas of legal expertise. I majored in the field of private international law, that is, in an area very closely linked
to the economy and relevant to the global economy. That's the first thing.
Second, there is no need to be a renowned expert to understand and see the obvious, that a market economy has great
advantages over a planned economy. If you recall the discussions that went on in Europe and in the United States, if you
recall the discussions that took place during the Great Depression, you will probably remember that in the United States
there were specialists who believed that government intervention in the economy to overcome the well-known difficulties
that develop in the economic life was not only possible but desirable. And President Roosevelt, whom we mentioned, also
But at the various stages of development of the world economy certain tools, certain principles are more effective, and
they correspond better to the level of development of productive forces in the world and the structure of the world
economy. Of course today market-based instruments are in demand and more efficient. But if we look at what is happening
in individual countries, including Russia and the United States, the regulatory functions of the state are also
indispensable. This does not, of course, relate to my service with the State Security Committee of the Soviet Union, but
is based on the education I received, on an analysis of what is happening.
And if we are talking about what was positive in the early years of my productive activities in the special services,
then, yes, perhaps you are right: we were always encouraged to educate ourselves, to analyse what was actually
happening, draw conclusions and react accordingly. And later on, as you may be aware, I had the pleasure of defending a
PhD thesis in economics. Therefore my theoretical knowledge and practical experience in more recent years have helped me
form certain principles, which I have followed in recent years and which have clearly brought about positive results.
Perhaps some things could have been done differently, less harshly. Perhaps we could have achieved better results. But
what we have done in recent years in economics has been an unquestionable success. Annual growth for the last 7 or 8
years has averaged 7 per cent. And this year it will be even higher. We got rid of a multibillion dollar debt and
accumulated vast resources. We have real growth and, allowing for inflation, the average household income has grown at
an annual rate of 12 percent. That is the most important thing for me. We are dealing with specific things in the area
of social policy, rebuilding entire sectors of the economy. Principles are all very well, but here as in foreign policy
a great deal depends upon talent and skills.
QUESTION: Does the growth of the economy explain the success of Russian tennis players in international play?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: No, it does not explain the success of Russian tennis players, but the success of Russian athletes in
general is of course related to the economy. Although you put your question in the form of a joke, I will answer it by
saying that, if we are talking about sport at the highest level, then of course it is very important for us, first
because it is something we can export and secondly because it raises the morale of the nation, it brings people
But even more important for us in this area is amateur sport and physical education. And here a great deal still needs
to be done to rebuild the training of children and young people, and to raise the level of training in the schools.
By the way, it is useful to look at the American experience in this regard. I think that competition between schools and
colleges in the United States is a very good example to follow, because it encourages team spirit, it brings teams
together, especially for children and youth - we have a great deal to learn from this. In Russia this has to a large
extent been lost in recent years because of the breakdown at the material and technical level. Our modest but
significant economic progress has given us the opportunity today, not only to return to where we once were, but to
rebuild at a totally new technological and technical level. Now we can create the conditions so that our people, the
young and people of all ages, can enjoy these services, and so that the services are accessible to all.
QUESTION: Do you perhaps feel that you are lucky that you have a lot of oil?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Lucky fools, but we have been working from morning till night. Yes, there have been positive external
economic factors, but let us recall that during the Soviet era oil and gas prices also went through the roof, and
nothing happened. They stupidly bought consumer goods abroad and imported them.
We have different economic policies. We are in the process of reconfiguring the tax system and are creating reserves for
the country. We are creating conditions for the development of whole sectors of the economy. Our challenge today is not
just to drill holes in the ground, extract oil and gas and sell them to the highest bidder.
Our task is to diversify the economy and make it more innovative. For this purpose we are creating new institutions for
development and special economic zones, which is why we are paying particular attention to the development of education
and science. We have done very little in this area in recent years because we simply were not able to. But what we have
identified as short- and medium-term gains gives us every reason to believe that Russia will develop successfully and
become more innovative.
QUESTION: I would like to continue along the same lines. We know that you have interesting, dynamic relations with the
leaders of world governments. Do you have close personal relationships with the heads of major international companies?
How much do you, as a business leader, involve yourself in specific things such as talking to captains of industry?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I set certain rules for myself concerning interacting with business representatives, even when I was
working in St Petersburg as First Deputy Mayor of the city. I think that these are people on whom a great deal of the
country's economy depends. They help determine how the budget will be designed, address social challenges by creating
jobs, and create decent work for people. But for such figures, the ones we described as captains of industry, the
principal task is to make a profit. They do all their work with this in mind. And this is not the main task of the
state. The main task of the state is to ensure that the welfare of ordinary citizens increases. And so I have always
thought that with the heads of large companies one needs to have good, solid, trusting relationships. That said, they
must know that, despite having major capital assets and lots of money in the bank, they must comply with the law, like
any other citizen of the Russian Federation. And so that they had no illusions about being allowed more than that, I
thought it was appropriate to keep my distance from them. This is what I did in St Petersburg and what I've done for 8
years here, and I think that is the right way to interact with these people for whom of course I have great respect.
QUESTION: Since this subject has come up, perhaps I could ask another question in this vein. You had difficulties with
the oligarchs and they had difficulties with you. Could you talk about the role of the state in regulating or
restricting the activities of certain oligarchs? Some of those involved in the television business left Russia; another,
an expert on oil production, is in custody. Why did the oligarchs, as they were called, come to the attention of the
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Why did they come to the attention of the state? If you don't swindle people you will not come to the
attention of the state.
That is the problem we had. It wasn't that they had particular difficulties with me; they had difficulties with the
Russian people and with the law. Because when people break the law they line their pockets, and tens of millions lose
the rather modest savings that they've acquired over a lifetime. It is a matter of the distrust and alienation felt by
the overwhelming majority of the population while a small group of individuals amassed billions of dollars in 6 or 7
years. That creates a lack of trust and that is the most important issue.
As I understood it, my task was first - I repeat once again - to remind everyone that they had to live within the law,
that they had to obey the law regardless of the amount of wealth they had amassed.
Secondly, to humanise Russian business, to make it more socially responsible and to remove the wall of alienation
separating the people and businesses in the Russian Federation. To understand business you need to understand its social
responsibilities. Its main task is not to fill its bank accounts with money and then send it abroad, but to realize
itself here, in its own Motherland. The value of a man and a businessman is not how much wealth he has acquired but what
he has done for the people, by whose hands he managed to achieve such results.
These are the new moral principles that can emerge and break down the wall of alienation between the people and the
business. Then people will have more confidence in those who direct the large companies and have great wealth.
And the final thing is this: we need to do everything we can to overcome poverty, because a person who does not have the
most basic things or lives in difficult conditions does give a damn about all these maxims. You cannot explain anything
to him. And he is right, this person, because it means that neither the state nor business has done anything to improve
his life. And in his opinion they could do better since they have amassed such resources. And in this sense, the
ordinary citizen is right. But this means that together we have a lot to do to resolve this problem, to create a feeling
of trust between the people and big business.
QUESTION: I have been in Russia for a week and I regularly read about Russia on the Internet. It seems that some of the
people very close to you have enriched themselves by corruption.
I would like to ask this question. Is there a threat of social upheaval if living standards do not continue to rise and
the corruption situation deteriorates?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: If the standard of living continues to rise, then there is no danger of social upheaval. But the
situation with regards to corruption does not suit us either. You said that some people have made money from corruption.
This means that you know who and how. Write out your allegations and send them to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the
Russian Federation or to the prosecutor. I beg you to do this. Because if you are so sure about what you are saying,
that means that you can name names, that you know about corrupt schemes. And I can assure you and everyone listening to
us, watching us, or reading about our meeting today, that the response will be quick, immediate, and of course within
the framework of existing legislation in Russia. In the past and in recent years I have not just talked about it, but by
my actions prompted law enforcement agencies and public organisations not to tolerate manifestations of this kind. For
the state any situation in which those engaged in corruption feel privileged cannot be tolerated. And so if you have any
concrete evidence of such practices, please write out your allegations. I will be very grateful to you.
QUESTION: It seems paradoxical. For many centuries in Russia there has been a strong centralized, shall we say
autocratic power, under the Tsars and the Bolsheviks. It would seem that only such a strong autocratic power can hold
together such a gigantic country. At the same time, this mode of governance impedes the development of the country. This
power has twice brought the country to ruin.
Now in the XXI century when everything functions according to the market mechanisms you described, according to
contemporary processes that require human autonomy and efficiency, how can this paradox be resolved? As a man who has
been President for 8 years, how do you resolve it?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Organising government is one of the most complex issues. Government should be sufficiently strong to be
able to guarantee sovereignty, security and defence capability. It should be sufficiently strong to protect the
country's territorial integrity, but it should also be sensitive to regional and municipal issues and sensitive to the
needs of individuals. Such government cannot be achieved if citizens do not feel any connection with the state and do
not think they have any influence on the authorities, and so government must therefore be democratic. The balance
between strong and sensitive government is of crucial importance. This is very fine and delicate work and we need to be
very much aware of what stage of development society has reached, what is acceptable and what is not possible.
QUESTION: Let me ask a follow-on question then: you said that America, at its stage of development, has kept the archaic
institution of electoral colleges instead of giving people the right to vote directly. In Russia, direct elections of
regional governors have now been abolished. The result is that they are elected by much the same thing as the electoral
colleges. Do you think that at this stage in Russia's development voters cannot be trusted to elect governors directly,
or was this decision motivated by other reasons?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: The voters are not the issue. The problem is that, unfortunately, civil society has not yet reached a
sufficient level of development here. This is something we need to be aware of. In this situation, the moment someone
takes up office as governor, whether through using the various instruments available to those in power, or through the
help of wealthy backing, he ends up being cut off from the very voters who supposedly brought him to power. At the same
time, the other state institutions have only minimal influence on him. In the current situation, I think that for
Russia, with its vast territory and its mixture of ethnic state formations that make up its territory, the system I
proposed whereby people elect the members of their regional parliaments through direct secret ballot, and these
parliamentary deputies then vote on the candidate for governor proposed by the President, is the optimum scheme.
I think that this enables us to ensure that the regional governors are directly bound to national interests while at the
same time being sensitive to local issues. The method we use for forming our regional government is a lot more
democratic than in some countries whose democratic status is unquestioned. In India, for example, governors are directly
appointed. In France, the prefects, for example, are directly appointed and that's all there is to it. Even taking the
United Kingdom, Her Majesty's Government includes a minister for Northern Irish affairs and a minister for Scottish
affairs, and the principle powers are in their hands. As for the municipal level, as they say here, over there the
chimneys are lower, the smoke thinner and they have different rights. Essentially, what we are doing is no different.
QUESTION: What do you do in your spare time?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I do not have any spare time.
I play sport, walk, occasionally go to the theatre. My wife drags me out. I like to listen to music, light, popular
classical music, composers such as Brahms, Rakhmaninov, Tchaikovsky, Mozart, Schubert and Liszt. Theirs are such
beautiful pieces. I spend two hours a day on sport, usually in the morning, but sometimes I have to change my routine.
The rest of the time I work, and that is all.
QUESTION: You worked in the KGB. We already talked about that. What influence has your work in that organisation had on
you? It's sometimes said after all that, once an intelligence officer, always an intelligence officer.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: That's all just fables. We're all real people. Of course some aspects of past experience leave their
mark, things we can draw on in life today, and other aspects fade away. But whether it was in university or in the KGB,
where I was sent to work after graduating from university, I think that the main thing was that in both places we were
taught to think independently, to collect objective information, analyse it, and use it as the basis for making
That is the first positive aspect that I was able to apply to my future experience, including to my work today. The
second aspect, which is above all true of my time in the intelligence services, of course, is the ability to work with
people and, above all, to respect the people with whom you work. I'll share with you some real inside information on the
way the intelligence services work. There are several basic principles for working with information sources, with the
people who help the intelligence services. They are given different names in different countries, but in general they
are referred to as agents.
The foundations for this cooperation can vary: the person might be dependent on the intelligence service, be working for
material gain or share the same political views, but the most solid foundation of all, without which nothing can be
achieved, is that of trust and respect for your partner. At the very least you always have to look upon the person with
whom you are working as being your equal. You have to understand that in some way he is better than you. In the context
of intelligence work, when I was working with people who were cooperating with Soviet intelligence, I always thought
that the people I was dealing with were better than me if only because they were risking more than me. That was already
enough to make me feel great respect for these people.
I think that these people felt this respect and I had very good relations with them. This respect for one's partners is
also very important in politics, I think.
QUESTION: What have you learned through your dealings with foreign journalists?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: The issue is not one of journalists themselves or of political or military details. I am talking here
about human relations. What can I say about foreign journalists? What I always appreciated in them is that they are
professionals. Many of them have specialised in this or that area and become experts on different issues, and this is
something for which I feel respect. I always find it interesting to speak with people who have in-depth knowledge of
But to be frank with you - you can decide for yourself whether to print this or not - there are people who are really
not objective, despite all the freedom the Western press, including the American press, enjoys. These are people who are
simply doing what they have to do to earn the money their owners pay, and who want to avoid disputes with their bosses.
Truly independent people, people who are not afraid to spoil their relations with their bosses or lose their jobs,
people who really write what they think, are quite few and far between. They are few and far between not just in the
media world but in life in general. These are the true objective spirits, people who have a bit of a dissident streak in
them whatever the environment they're in. But it is precisely these people, selfless and honest people, who earn respect
wherever they work, whether as journalists, politicians, or in whatever other field.
QUESTION: We are journalists, Mr President, and we are objective about the work we do.
I was recently at a dinner hosted by a certain organisation. It was a meeting about protecting journalists. The concern
was expressed there that many journalists have died in Russia in unclear circumstances and that journalists in America
and elsewhere in the world cannot help but asking if there is not some kind of pattern to these events? Are you and the
Russian Government doing something to prevent this? We are also concerned about what our fellow journalists will say
about our work, and this is why we are raising this question.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: To give you an absolutely frank answer without any politics involved at all, I am also very worried by
this situation. I will not speak about what happens in other countries where many journalists have also lost their
lives, including Iraq, where the number is probably even higher. This is not the point and I do not want to point the
finger of blame somewhere else. Let us talk about the situation in Russia.
There are several aspects to this problem. First of all, the media community is part of Russian society, which is made
up of people who want to live better, earn more and enjoy all the benefits of civilisation. At a time when capital is in
its initial stages of being built up, many people, journalists included, are tempted to earn some extra money on the
side. This has led people to enter into relations with business, sometimes with criminal business, to be drawn into this
environment, begin defending the interests of one group against those of another and end up becoming part of the
struggle for economic gains and wealth. Of course, this struggle always leads to victims. That is one category.
The second category of journalists who have become victims are those who are sincerely fighting corruption and fighting
any merging of the state with business or with the criminal world. These are especially severe losses, of courses. This
is the area to which the state should pay the greatest attention. I do not exclude that such losses have also taken
place here, but I see this as personal losses because such people are without a doubt working in the interests of
Russia, working to make Russia stronger from within, and we will do everything we can to protect such people and
guarantee their security and the possibility of carrying out their professional activity.
QUESTION: If you had to draw the most suitable parallel with the situation in the West, what situation would you make a
comparison with, in particular as regards what happened here to [Anna] Politkovskaya?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: It's hard to say because each situation is unique. As you know, an investigation has been carried out
and has brought results, but there are problems with the evidence. It is also no secret for you if you are involved in
Russian affairs that Ms Politkovskaya did not play any significant role in Russia's political life. Insinuations that
she was a danger for the authorities and so on are therefore nonsense. She was no danger at all. I think that her murder
was simply a provocation against the authorities. No one ever talked about her. Only a limited number of people - you
could count them on your fingers - knew about her activities, and now all the country and the whole world is talking
about her. I think this is just a deliberate provocation - a sacrificial victim was chosen and a woman was killed, that
is all. But we will nevertheless do all we can to ensure that this investigation is carried out in full.
QUESTION: One of the questions I wanted to ask you has become evident over the course of today's discussion. What do you
think about American misconceptions of Russia, the Russian people, you, the Government? What is the reason for this
situation? If you were able to address the American people directly and say, "I think you should know the following
facts about us. I think there are things you do not understand or maybe have not been told", what main misconceptions
would you address?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I do not believe this is a case of misconceptions. I think that this is a deliberate attempt to create a
certain image of Russia that can be used to influence our domestic and foreign policy.
Russia has demonstrated on numerous occasions in word and in deed over the last 15 years that we want to be not just a
partner but also a friend of America. But we sometimes have the impression that America does not need friends. We
sometimes have the impression that the United States needs vassals it can command.
We cannot build our relations with other countries on such principles. This situation constantly leads to friction, and
this is the reason why people are always looking for problems within the country.
This is the reason why we and all the others are told, "it's alright to pinch and criticise them a bit because they're
still not quite civilised, they're still a bit wild, only came down from the trees not long ago, so we have to groom
them a bit because they can't do it for themselves. We have to shave them, clean the grime from them. That's our
But I think that this is really just an instrument for influencing Russia. It's not the right instrument. The right
approach, as I said, is to look for compromise and take each other's interests into account.
QUESTION: I have a personal question. When you were growing up, when you were a mid-level intelligence officer, did it
ever enter your head that you would one day be running the country, especially at a time of change, a troubled time?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I never thought about it and of course it never entered my head.
QUESTION: Does it still surprise you that it happened?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Yes, I think it does. I arrived in Moscow from St Petersburg in the summer of 1996. Three years later,
in August 1999, I became prime minister, and another six months later I was elected President. When I arrived in Moscow
in 1996, I had no real connections or friends to rely on. I came to Moscow because the man I worked with in St
Petersburg, Mr Sobchak, lost the election and I simply did not have a chance of finding employment there, no one would
take me on.
QUESTION: How did it all happen then?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I'm amazed myself. It seems to me that it all happened because people close to First President Yeltsin
realised that I would be absolutely sincere and would give everything to fulfilling my duties, would be honest with
regard to the First President and would do all I could to protect the country's interests. I think this was the main
motivation behind the decision of President Yeltsin and the people close to him when they made this proposal to me.
QUESTION: So he saw something new in you, he saw something that suggested that you in particular would be able to handle
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Yes, I think so. We talked about this several times. The first time he made the proposal I answered with
a refusal. For a start, I understood just what situation the country was in, and then, it was also a completely
unexpected proposal for me. I said that I didn't know...
QUESTION: You realised that this would be a difficult task and this made you hesitate?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Yes, of course. That was clear immediately after the 1998 default.
I said that I wasn't sure, that this was a very difficult fate and that I wasn't sure whether I was ready for it or not.
But President Yeltsin was insistent. He said, "We will come back to this conversation. I ask you not to say 'no'". So I
said, "Alright then, we will talk about it again later".
QUESTION: Can we talk a little about your relations today with Mr Yeltsin and Mr Gorbachev?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Mr Yeltsin passed away, as you know.
RESPONSE: Yes, sorry.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: But we can talk about my relations with regard to the time when he headed Russia.
QUESTION: Yes, please. You were not the sort of President he was, a revolutionary president?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Yes. Also I was never a top Soviet official, a party official or member of the Politburo, and I never
worked in the regional party committees. Although I worked in the intelligence service, I was essentially just a rank
and file Soviet citizen in as much as a member of the intelligence services can be one, while Mr Yeltsin was part of the
upper echelon of the Soviet nomenklatura.
But I think nevertheless that he and Gorbachev did what I could probably not have done. They took the step towards
destroying a system that the Russian people could endure no longer. I am not sure I would have been able to take such a
step. Gorbachev took the first step and Yeltsin completed what I think was a historic and very important transition for
Russia and its people. Both of them, Yeltsin above all, of course, gave Russia freedom, and this is indisputably the
historic achievement of the Yeltsin era.
QUESTION: You have spoken very confidently about Russia's role in international affairs. People say that it was harder
to carry out this policy at the start of your presidency, but now that you have become a very strong president, I want
to ask you: when did you become a national leader? What determines this position? When were you able to say to yourself,
"Yes, now I have become a true leader"?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: First of all, this is something I never thought about, just as I never thought that I would one day be
President. And now, to be honest, I try not to think about it because I think that when people start to think they are
somehow exceptional, some kind of exceptional leader, they start to lose touch with reality.
I never called myself a national leader. It is others who have called me this. I did not think up this term and have
never sought it. When I became President the country found itself unwillingly plunged into the chaos of civil war in the
Caucasus and faced enormous economic difficulties, the collapse of the social sphere and a huge number of people living
below the poverty line.
I can say to you with all certainty that I did not just take this job, step into this office, as it were, but I decided
for myself that I was ready to do everything I could, to make any sacrifice, in order to restore the country. I made
this the main purpose of my life and I decided that my own life in the broad sense, my personal life and interests,
Destiny has given me the chance to play a positive role in the history of my people, and I see myself as a part of this
people and feel very strongly my connection to them. I have always felt this and I feel it now, and from the moment I
made my decision I have subjugated my entire life to this goal.
I think that these goals have been reached to a large extent. We now have other problems, just as big, that we must
address, but these are already problems of a different kind, and we have every opportunity for making progress.
So when you ask me when I first had this feeling of being a leader, I can say that I haven't had this feeling and I
don't have it now. I feel like a work horse that is hauling along a cart filled with a heavy load, and I can tell you
that the satisfaction I feel from my work depends on how rapidly and effectively I manage to make progress along this
QUESTION: You said that you have not called yourself a national leader and that it is others who do so. But the issue
remains of how does a national leader fit into the political system?
There was a precedent in the sixteenth century when the tsar, Ivan Vasilyevich, for a number of reasons, left Moscow for
Alexandrovskaya Sloboda, leaving Tsarevich Simeon Bekbulatovich in his place and formally declaring him tsar. All the
nobles and officials had to pretend that the tsar was Simeon Bekbulatovich and that Ivan Vasilyevich was just a sort of
temporary figure. Overall, this created a certain dissonance in society at that time. Is a repeat of this kind of
VLADIMIR PUTIN: No, because we do not have a monarchy now but live within the framework of the Constitution, and
everyone, including the state's top officials, needs to remember this. Everyone has to submit to the Constitution, and
that is that.
QUESTION: What about your trip to Belarus? In the long term, could it not lead to changes in state organisation?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Anything is possible in the long term. With regard to Belarus, we are talking about the possibility of
creating a Union State, but fundamental issues such as these cannot be bound up with the interests of specific
QUESTION: I want to come back to what you said about Mr Yeltsin and Mr Gorbachev. Theoreticians and political analysts
sometimes say that it was a mistake on the part of Gorbachev and perhaps of Mr Yeltsin too that glasnost came first and
only then perestroika. They say that if Gorbachev had done things the other way round, first perestroika and then
glasnost, Russia would have been very different and would not have gone through all the trials it went through during
the Yeltsin years. Do you think that this would have had a positive impact on Russia's development?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I do not think that democratisation, if glasnost is understood in this way, should have been postponed
until later as a task of secondary importance. But it is also clear that market transformations should not have been
delayed, and we have seen the results.
QUESTION: Do you not see the 1990s as something of a paradox in this respect? On the one hand, you say it is a period
that gave Russia freedom, but on the other hand, you often say that it was a time of total ruin and a great tragedy,
referring to the collapse of the Soviet Union. How do you explain this paradox?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I do not see any paradox. The command economy system and the Communist Party's total domination of
political life had brought the country to a point where most people no longer placed any value on the state. They did
not need that state. So it was no surprise that they saw the state as they did and felt no regret at seeing it go,
imagining that things could surely not be any worse without it. But then it became apparent that things could indeed be
worse. The tragedy is that people's hopes were disappointed because freedom to do as one pleased was called democracy,
and the theft of millions to enrich a few, the plunder of immense resources that belonged to the whole people, was
called the market and market relations.
What did the collapse of the Soviet Union mean? Twenty-five-million Soviet citizens who were ethnic Russians found
themselves outside Russia's border and no one gave them any thought. This is equivalent to the population of a large
European country. They found themselves suddenly in the position of being foreigners without ever having been asked
about what they themselves wanted.
And how did the Soviet collapse actually take place? In any democratic country, in Belgium at the moment, for example,
complex processes can take place. But in countries where these processes are taking place, before making a decision, the
public is asked, "do you want to live separately from this country with which you currently live together, or do you
want to stay together?" I am sure that if a referendum had been held, the majority of people in many of the former
Soviet republics would not have said that, "yes, we want to separate from the Soviet Union". But they were never asked.
Is this a democratic means of resolving problems of this kind? We do not make an issue of this today, do not talk about
it, but it is nonetheless the reality of the situation.
So, 25 million people found themselves abroad without means of existence, in a climate of rising nationalism and in a
situation when they could not return to Russia, their historic homeland, and could not even see their relatives because
they did not have the money to buy a plane or train ticket. They do not have apartments in Russia. They have nowhere to
live and no jobs. Is this not a tragedy? This is what I meant when I spoke of the tragedy of this period.
I had in mind not the political aspect of the Soviet Union's collapse but the humanitarian aspect. And is this not a
tragedy? Of course it is a tragedy and a great tragedy too.
QUESTION: I would like to ask you to go further and take a broader look at the picture, talk about these countries and
review the situation.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Which countries?
QUESTION: My question is two-fold. First, it is clear that the lessons that you have learned in Chechnya could be used
by other countries, including the United States, in improving relations and stability. And second, how does Russia plan
to work together with the CIS countries, the former Soviet republics?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: As you know, I said that I think the collapse of the Soviet Union was a tragedy, but given that this
event is the reality we have to live with now, our relations with the former Soviet republics should be based on the
principle of absolute equality. I think that if we keep to this approach we will be able to hope for progress in
economic integration and thus ensure our competitive advantages in the global economy. This is what is uppermost in my
We have a common energy system and a common transport system. We do not have to think up rules for the use of national
languages, as in the European Union, because the Russian language has naturally come to play the part of common language
of communication between us all.
There are many other elements uniting us. Some sectors of our respective economies simply cannot exist without each
other. This is true for Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan and many of the other former Soviet republics. I think that
these are the principles upon which our relations should be built.
As for the processes taking place in these countries, I would prefer not to comment on them because this is not my
RESPONSE: You have had market disputes, disputes over prices for gas, if we come back to this...
VLADIMIR PUTIN: What disputes? There are world gas prices. We sell gas at world prices to all our customers. Why should
we sell gas at lower prices to someone? Do the Americans sell at cheaper prices? Can you walk into a shop in the USA and
say, "I'm from Canada, and we Canadians are good friends of the USA, so can you sell me a Chrysler at half price?" What
kind of answer would such a person get? They'd say, "Out of here, you idiot!"
QUESTION: California can sell at a discount to Nevada. The states can do this, give each other various preferential
terms. If the former Soviet republics become something like the European Union, why should they not also help each
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I think this goes against the principles of the market economy and that it is harmful to the countries
that do it.
Even within Russia we have adopted a program introducing world prices for domestic consumers. Any other approach
distorts the country's economy and makes certain economic sectors dependent on others. This leads to cross-subsidising
of the economy and is quite simply destructive. We are therefore making the transition to market principles within the
country and also in our relations with our closest neighbours. If we help someone, we assume that we will be receiving
adequate compensation in return, even if for the time being one can not see it.
Furthermore, we realised the difficulties our partners faced and for a whole 15 years supplied energy resources to our
neighbours at prices much lower than world prices, subsidising their economies to the tune of $3 billion-$5 billion a
year, and that was for Ukraine alone. This situation could not last forever. The situation had already become unfair.
You mentioned the Europeans. The Europeans criticise us, saying that we need to use world prices within the country and
say that otherwise our companies will benefit from advantages over European companies. In other words, we are supposed
to sell at world prices on the domestic market, but we are supposed to sell to our neighbours at a discount.
We do not make a political issue of energy problems. Let's be frank about what is going on here. Let's not beat about
the bush and avoid calling a spade a spade. I propose that we speak frankly. For some reason, there are people in the
United States who think that part of the Ukrainian elite is pro-American and part is pro-Russian. And they have decided
to support the part they think is pro-American, the so-called 'orange revolutionaries'.
That's your choice, if you want to support them, support them, although we think this is not the right approach because
in reality there are only different people there with different political views, and in general, if a politician wants
to be popular at home, he has to protect the national interests. All of them have to be Ukrainian nationalists in the
positive sense of the term. And that is what they all are: they are not pro-Russian or pro-American or pro-European;
they are all pro-Ukrainian. But you have decided to divide them for some reason into pro-European, pro-Western, and
pro-Russian factions. Fine, be that as it may, you have divided them this way and decide who to support. We think this
is a mistake. It would be better to let them get on with resolving their domestic problems themselves. Furthermore, you
supported them in action that was clearly unconstitutional in nature. After all, everything that took place there was in
violation of the Constitution. And what has it led to? The result is that different political groups and groups within
the population in Ukraine itself have lost trust in each other. Through this action you have begun to destroy Ukraine,
undermining its territorial integrity and sovereignty. That is what the United States has accomplished in Ukraine, and
the same thing is happening in Georgia.
And what were we saying? We said to leave them alone, to let them sort things out for themselves, support them from
outside but not give preference to one group or the other. This conflict will continue until the country is completely
destabilised, and judging from the situation, this state of affairs will persist for quite some time yet.
But when everyone saw that destabilisation was taking place, they tried to force Russia into subsidising the Ukrainian
economy so as not to let the country fall into complete collapse and destabilisation. But if you choose to support this
or that group, you should be the ones who pay for your choice. No one wants to pay. I spoke with one European economy
minister and said, "well, go on, pay then", and he said, "am I an idiot or something?", and I said, "and do I look to
you like an idiot?"
So we need to look at the situation, we need to look at the reality and not think in terms of general categories. I
think the situation that is unfolding is a dangerous one. Every effort needs to be made there to consolidate society and
consolidate the country. It would be best, overall, if the so-called pro-Russian and pro-Western forces got together and
reflected on the future of their country and built a power structure that would forge the bonds of national unity and
not divide the country into western and eastern or southern groups.
What is happening now is moving in this direction, in a destructive direction, and this is a great pity because Ukraine
is a country with whom we have very close ties. Every second person in Russia probably has ties of some sort with
relatives or friends in Ukraine. Of Ukraine's 45 million people, 17 million are ethnic Russians, and this is only
according to official statistics. Almost 100 percent of people there consider Russian their native language, well, 80
percent perhaps. This is a country we are very close to and we sincerely want to see peace and tranquillity finally come
to Ukraine and see them put in place the conditions for consistent development.
QUESTION: In the long term, do you think that Ukraine could ever become a part of Russia once again?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: No, of course not. We do not seek this. We do not want to bring anybody into Russia because this would
just be an additional economic burden for the country. But we do want to be able to make use of our natural competitive
advantages in the world economy. I already named them. We could look at economic integration, but it makes no sense at
all to impose some kind of new state formation when the people in neither one nor the other country want this.
This is not even so important in the modern world. Just look at what is happening in Europe. Unification is taking place
and national borders no longer play the role they used to. They are losing the significance they used to have.
QUESTION: President Bush said that he looked into your eyes and saw into your soul. Did you see into President Bush's
soul when you looked into his eyes, and what did you see there?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I don't think I have the right to give personality assessments and evaluations. When he said that he
looked into my eyes, he was saying what he felt. I will therefore take your question literally and speak about my own
I do indeed have good relations with him and this is something I value. I consider him a very reliable partner and a
When I have had the pleasure of speaking with some American intellectuals - I will not name names - they begin to argue
with me on this point. I would like to say that my term in office as President is coming to an end soon and I have no
reason to make compliments just for the sake of it, all the more as I will soon be leaving this post. I do not need to
make compliments for personal or for business reasons. What I say I say in all sincerity. I do not agree with those in
Russia or in America who deny Bush's decency, honesty or even competence.
We all make mistakes. I think that Iraq was a mistake, for example. But Bush is someone with a lot of experience, a lot
of experience in life and in state affairs, and there is no doubt that everything he does is aimed at protecting the
interests of the United States.
RESPONSE: Could you repeat that second part, "he is someone with a lot of experience". Could you repeat that sentence,
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I think he is someone with a lot of experience in life and in state affairs. He was governor, after all,
and I have an idea of what it takes to run a region. I was deputy mayor of St Petersburg, and he was the top official in
the state. Only at first glance does this seem like nothing much, just a matter of looking after roofs, roads, looking
after the linen, but this is not the case at all. This work involves serious matters and the decisions taken affect the
lives of thousands, millions, of people. He has a lot of international experience, though, as I said, there are some
areas where I think he has made mistakes, some things I would not have done. I already mentioned Iraq. But I have
absolutely no doubt that he is acting in America's interests, that he devotes himself fully to this work, and that he is
honest with his partners.
QUESTION: How do you think Iraq will end for the United States?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I think that if we all work together and come up with common solutions, work together to return to Iraq
its sovereignty, and the sooner the better, we will be able to avoid serious consequences.
QUESTION: Another question in this respect. You were one of the first to come to the aid of the United States after
September 11. When the United States entered Afghanistan, Russia already had a lot of experience of presence in that
country. Do you think that Russia and the United States missed the opportunity to cooperate more closely on combating
terrorism precisely because of differences of opinion over the invasion of Iraq?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I think we certainly could have worked together in more coordinated and thus more effective fashion.
But I do think that we have achieved cooperation between our intelligence services. We cannot always make it public and
show it, but I can assure you that it is effective, including for ensuring security in the direct sense of the term, the
security of Russian citizens and U.S. citizens. The cooperation between our intelligence services has produced some good
results and they are now able to prevent serious attacks against our citizens, something they have been doing very
successfully at moments.
RESPONSE: That is reassuring.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: This is not just banal talk. I am saying this on the basis of concrete work to prevent concrete attacks
directed against Americans and against Russian citizens, attacks that have been prevented as a result of our work
QUESTION: I am being perfectly sincere when I say that it is reassuring to hear this from you.
Are there organisational structures through which the intelligence services carry out their anti-terrorist work?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Cooperation takes place through what are called partnership channels, and this has been very successful
QUESTION: What kind of cooperation are we talking about exactly?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Cooperation to prevent terrorist attacks against Russian and American citizens, as I said, including
possible large-scale actions. We do not publicise the information exchanges and prevention measures taking place on both
sides, but they are there.
I spoke with President Bush on the telephone about this just recently, gave him some specific examples and had the
opportunity to inform him about some of the joint work we have been carrying out.
QUESTION: This concerned threats to the United States that it was possible to prevent through the help of the Russian
VLADIMIR PUTIN: It concerned threats to the United States and Russia and joint work to prevent threats to Americans and
to Russians. I am stating the situation as it is and I cannot say more at the moment.
QUESTION: Mr President, regarding Russia's relations with other countries, with China, for example, what is the current
state of Russian-Chinese relations? Is there anything in what China is doing that you see as positive and that Russia
could also take on board? Would you like to move in some other direction?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Russia and China are natural partners. We are neighbours and share thousands of kilometres of common
border. We spent 40 years negotiating a border settlement with China. Forty years - that is a long time - but two or
three years ago we resolved and signed everything. Russia and China have reached an unprecedented level of trust and
cooperation in their relations today. We are very pleased with this and we see that our Chinese partners are doing all
they can to maintain this level. We are receiving signals of this in practically every area. We value this highly and
try to respond likewise. I hope that this will remain the case in the future.
QUESTION: You spoke about President Bush, but you also met with President Clinton. Could you compare their styles, their
intellectual capabilities, the way they responded to questions?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Yes of course I can make such a comparison, but do you really think I am going to do so? I have too much
respect for both of these politicians to allow myself to make such comparisons and comments.
But I do remember how I began. President Yeltsin sent me to attend the APEC summit in New Zealand. I was prime minister
at the time and my political prospects were still quite unclear, I did not really know myself what lay ahead. Clinton at
that time was already well-known, respected at home and abroad. He was a recognised world leader. I remember that at
dinner when Clinton got up from the table, he came round this big table at which all these APEC leaders were seated, and
whispered in my ear, "Volodya, I propose that you and I leave together". This came as a complete surprise to me. We both
got up and our colleagues all stepped back to form a sort of corridor, and we walked along this 'corridor' together to
the applause of those present.
I will never forget this and I am very grateful to him for this. In general, despite the differences of opinion on many
issues, such marks of human attention and friendly attitude towards each other, this culture of relations among state
leaders, is a special kind of chemistry and it is very important.
QUESTION: Are there any world leaders with whom you have also felt this kind of special chemistry, or any other friends?
Mr Berlusconi and Mr Sarkozy have had many warm words to say about you, for example. Who could you name? What about Mrs
Merkel, what language do the two of you use together?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I have very good relations with all of the people you have named, and in some cases they have developed
into real friendship. Generally, Mrs Merkel and I speak to each other in German.
QUESTION: I would like to come back to the question of God. You said in one of your answers that it is wrong to steal
and that this is a principle of life in Russia. Have you read the Bible?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Yes. I have a copy of the Bible in my plane, and I fly a lot. I have the Bible in my plane and I also
have an icon there, a special icon, embroidered, but everything is there. If I am flying a long distance - and we have a
big country, and I also fly abroad regularly - I have the chance to read the Bible.
QUESTION: How would you characterise your religious beliefs? It seems to me from your answer that you do not want to
talk publicly about this in your position. But is there something you could say about this?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Yes. What I can say is that it is my firm conviction that only religion can provide the moral values
without which humanity as a whole and we as individuals cannot live.
As for specific institutions or churches, this is a separate issue. Someone said once that if God exists, he does not
know that people have different views on the church.
QUESTION: But a situation is emerging now in Russia in which the Russian Orthodox Church is becoming dominant once
again. It is the only church to have signed official cooperation agreements with the Defence Ministry and the law
enforcement agencies, for example.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: The issue is not the agreement but the law.
RESPONSE: I realise this, but the law prohibits this - Russia is a secular state.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: This is not the case. The law states that Russia has four traditional religions. Our American partners
have criticised us for this, but this is what our lawmakers have decided. These traditional religions are: Orthodoxy,
Judaism, Islam and Buddhism.
RESPONSE: Excuse me, this is not quite what I had in mind. I did not finish my sentence. I think the law prohibits
things such as a joint church service involving the General Staff and Orthodox hierarchs to celebrate the 60th
anniversary of the creation of the Soviet nuclear bomb. If all four confessions took part in the event it would be more
comprehensible in terms of the Constitution.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I think that if people at General Staff who are followers of Judaism, Islam or Buddhism went to their
respective religious authorities and marked this important event, there would be nothing bad in this, and I would
Orthodoxy just happens to be the biggest of our religions. Almost 80 percent of Russia's population consider themselves
as having a connection with Orthodoxy.
QUESTION: Mr President, you know that in America, being 'green', ecologically-minded, is the new religion, and the chief
hierarch is former Vice-President Al Gore. I have two questions in this respect. How do you view the 'green movement' as
it is developing in Russia, and what is your policy in this area? And the second part of my question: in America and the
West there is a need to use alternative energy sources so as to reduce dependence on fuels such as oil.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Regarding the ecology movement, I very much support it and share their ideas very much.
Protecting nature, protecting the environment in which we live is one of the priorities for all of humankind. People who
devote their time and their lives to this work unquestionably deserve our support. It is also clear that we cannot stop
human development. There will always be a conflict between development and environmental protection. It is important
that humanity realise the dramatic nature of the events taking place and channel development in such a way as to cause
minimal damage to nature, or try to find ways of excluding all such damage.
Modern technology can help us to achieve this. It is easier to resolve these problems today than it was even 15 years
ago, because in a situation of confrontation between two rival blocs such as we had back then, confrontation that
threatened total mutual destruction, people were not much concerned with what happened to the environment during this
competition, which was a struggle of life or death.
But today we have left this situation behind and there is no need to destroy the environment in the way we did
previously. Today we therefore have a unique political opportunity to look after what God has given all of humankind.
Our eco-system is very vulnerable. It is amazing that the Earth still survives today. Our planet evolved through a
combination of billions of circumstances and continues to exist thanks to the fact these billions of circumstances
somehow interact and work together. Our planet, which is in constant movement through what is essentially the hostile
environment of outer space, is faced with the constant threat of destruction. It could be hit by large cosmic bodies. We
have a very thin ozone layer and our atmosphere in general is really quite thin. There is a very fine line beyond which
damage becomes irreversible, and we might not even notice that we have crossed this line.
In this respect we must always remember this and always strive to minimise the possible negative consequences for the
environment. But what I do not like is that people sometimes use environmental issues as an instrument in competition,
particularly in economic competition, in order to stifle competition. This undermines trust in the environmental
protection organisations and their work.
This is the negative side of the question. But overall, we must strive to come up with rules of behaviour that would
protect the environment for humankind in the long term.
QUESTION: The second part of the question: will we find a substitute for oil? And if we do, what would be the impact for
Russia and the global economy?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: First of all, as I said, one of our economic priorities is to diversify our economy. We base ourselves
on the premise that we should depend not on oil but on brainpower. We need to change the structure of our economy. This
is not an easy task but I have no doubt that it is within our power. We are already moving in this direction and we have
already achieved results. The share of machine-building and other high-technology sectors in our GDP is growing all the
time compared to the share of the natural resources extraction sectors. If you look at the changing figures over the
last few years you will see that this is an indisputable fact.
Second, talking about the energy sector, Russia is taking steps, perhaps not yet sufficient steps as yet, but we are
working on developing new forms of thermonuclear, nuclear and hydrogen energy. Alternative energy sources such as those
obtained from cereals, for example, also offer good prospects for Russia. There are not so many countries in the world
with a large amount of territory that can be used to grow these cereals: really, there are only the United States,
Canada, Australia, Russia and perhaps Brazil. That is all. We are not pessimistic at all with regards to this issue. We
will keep working.
QUESTION: Thank you very much. You have been very generous with your time. Could I ask a couple of final questions, to
help Americans understand you better?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Go ahead, but only two, because it is already 10p.m.
QUESTION: Thank you. You said that the large number of telephones on the boss's desk is an old stereotype now. How much
into technology are you personally? Do you use e-mail or Blackbury, and do you have your own blog, for example?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: To my great shame, I don't use any of these things. I don't even use the telephone. My staff does it all
for me. They do it all very well and I am very envious of them.
QUESTION: But to give Americans a better idea of you as a person, what do you like and value most of all, and what do
you feel some kind of passion for?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: There is only one measure of power and that is people's trust. There is no other measure. All the rest
is just an illusion of power, and a very dangerous illusion it is. Trust is the most important component of power and it
is something I value immensely.
I am very grateful to people for thinking that I really have spent these last eight years working honestly, toiling like
a galley slave every day. And I see that there are also people who do not see things in this way, do not perceive it as
I do, but I do not blame them for this, I blame myself for not having managed to reach out properly to these people.
This means I did not work hard enough and could have done more. But overall, what I am most grateful for is people's
ENDS PUTIN: THE RECORD STRAIGHT, ON SCOOP:
19 Dec 2007 - "If our people, the citizens of Russia, show their confidence in Dmitry Anatolevich Medvedev and elect him
as the new president of Russia, then I also would be ready to continue our joint work, in this case, as Prime Minister
of the Russian Federation."
18 Dec 2007 - Russian President Vladimir Putin ended months of speculation about his political future on December 17
when he agreed to serve as prime minister in the event that voters elect his chosen successor, Dmitry Medvedev, as
18 Dec 2007 - Russia fully supports this initiative and considers it an important contribution to the common effort to
stabilise the situation and renew the peace process in the Middle East.
17 Dec 2007 - Press statements and answers to journalists' questions following the Session of the Supreme State Council
of the Union State of Russia and Belarus. "We managed to accomplish a great deal at the bilateral level and with regards
to a union state."
12 Dec 2007 - Vladimir Putin expressed his condolences to President of the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria
Abdelaziz Bouteflika in connection with the terror attacks that claimed many victims.
12 Dec 2007 - Dmitri Medvedev says it is not enough to elect a president who shares his predecessor's ideology. He says
it is important to maintain the team formed by the current president. He says for this reason Vladimir Putin must become
T11 Dec 2007 - he President expressed his support for Mr Medvedev's candidacy at a meeting with members of political
parties United Russia, A Fair Russia, the Agrarian Party and Citizens' Strength, which have nominated Mr Medvedev as
their common candidate.
11 Dec 2007 - President Putin says the nomination of Dmitri Medvedev offers Russia a chance to establish a stable new
government that will continue policies that have proven successful during the eight years of his administration.
9 Dec 2007 - The media quote Colonel Alexander Vovk, a spokesman for the missile forces, as saying the RS-12M Topol
ballistic missile was launched Saturday evening from Kapustin Yar firing range in southern Russia.
8 Dec 2007 - Mr Putin and Mr Abbas had a detailed exchange of views on the results of the international meeting on the
Middle East and outlook for the peace process in Annapolis (USA).
6 Dec 2007 - The Israeli Prime Minister warmly congratulated Vladimir Putin on his success in the recent State Duma
elections and highly praised United Russia's results in the elections.
6 Dec 2007 - "I have warm memories of our meeting in Bangkok in 2003, a meeting which made a great impression on my wife
and I. We greatly value Your Majesty's contribution to strengthening the traditionally friendly relations and
4 Dec 2007 - In a telephone conversation with French President Nicholas Sarkozy, who congratulated Mr Putin on the
election victory, the two leaders exchanged views on current bilateral cooperation issues.
4 Dec 2007 - Election monitors from the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
say Sunday's parliamentary balloting in Russia was unfair and failed to meet democratic election standards.
4 Dec 2007 - Four political parties have gained representation in the Russian parliament, with President Vladimir
Putin's ruling United Russia Party taking about 315 of 450 seats in national legislature.
3 Dec 2007 - The vote projections were released Sunday evening by Russian media, just minutes after the last polling
stations closed in the Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad. The communist party was running a distant second with about 12
percent of the vote.
3 Dec 2007 - Russians are voting in a parliamentary election in which President Vladimir Putin leads the list of the
ruling United Russia Party, though he is not a candidate. Mr. Putin's name on the ballot could explain pressure for a
high voter turnout.
2 Dec 2007 - Voting got under way first Sunday morning in Russia's Far East for the country's parliamentary elections.
Pre-election opinion polls forecast a landslide vote for President Vladimir Putin's United Russia Party, which is aiming
for a big victory.
2 Dec 2007 - An open letter from a group of politically connected luminaries, including Mikhalkov, implored Putin to
stay in power. Billboards proclaiming "Putin's Plan -- Russia's Future" have sprung up like mushrooms across the
2 Dec 2007 - Voters in Russia go to the polls Sunday in a parliamentary election that follows a campaign dominated by
President Vladimir Putin and his United Russia Party. Mr. Putin is looking for a big win that will allow United Russia
to further consolidate.
1 Dec 2007 - The president of the European security organization OSCE is calling on Russia to reconsider its decision to
suspend participation in the treaty limiting military forces in Europe.
1 Dec 2007 - Campaigning for Russia's parliamentary elections ended Friday, with polls predicting a landslide victory
for the United Russia Party headed by President Vladimir Putin.
1 Dec 2007 - The two leaders exchanged views on the current state of Russian-Turkish cooperation and the development
prospects for relations. Mr Putin, who sent Mr Gul a telegram earlier in the day following the plane crash in Turkey,
repeated his condolences.
1 Dec 2007 - Word that President Putin signed a law suspending the CFE Treaty came in a brief statement issued by the
Kremlin. The suspension goes into effect on December 12.
1 Dec 2007 - A two-day ministerial meeting in Madrid of members of Europe's main security watchdog began on a note of
contention over its decision to not to send election observers for Russia's upcoming parliamentary vote.
30 Nov 2007 - President Vladimir Putin continues his campaign on behalf of the ruling United Russia Party amid charges
the organization is pressuring voters to cast ballots on its behalf in Sunday's parliamentary election. Such pressure
violates Russian law.
29 Nov 2007 - Russia's growth rate remains high and we expect it to exceed seven percent this year. Direct foreign
investment alone has increased from $4.4 billion in 2000 to $13.7 billion in 2006, and it showed a 2.5-fold increase
over the first half of 2007.
28 Nov 2007 - The opposition activist says the plan leads to abuse of power, lawlessness, bureaucracy, and uncontrolled
corruption. Nemtsov asks why Mr. Putin deserves support, noting that under his rule Russia fell to 142nd place in global
27 Nov 2007 - President Vladimir Putin has accused the United States of manipulating the Organization for Security and
Cooperation in Europe to discredit upcoming Russian Parliamentary elections.
26 Nov 2007 - Boris Nemtsov, a leader of the Union of Rights Forces party and likely contender in Russia's coming
presidential election, was taken into custody. Riot police used batons to stop protesters from marching to the center of
22 Nov 2007 - Comrade generals, admirals, officers, we are here at this annual meeting in the Defence Ministry to sum up
the results of work over this last period and outline measures for the Armed Forces' ongoing modernisation.
20 Nov 2007 - Mr Putin's telegram reads, in particular: "It was with great sorrow that I learned of the natural disaster
that has struck Bangladesh - the cyclone that has taken hundreds of lives and caused immense material damage.
14 Nov 2007 - I would like to thank you for your important contribution to the moral education of our citizens, for your
actions in the fight against all forms of extreme currents of thought, and for what you do in the fight against
13 Nov 2007 - I am pleased to say that trade between our countries has picked up the pace over these last years: it
increased by 27 percent in 2006 and was up 30 percent over the first eight months of this year.
30 Oct 2007 - Heroin abuse is a growing problem in Russia with an estimated third of Afghan opium being trafficked
through the country to the EU where there are up to two million problematic heroin users.
25 Oct 2007 - European and Russian leaders will meet in Mafra, Portugal, to discuss the steady expansion in co-operation
under the four common spaces, developments in the EU and Russia, as well as international and regional issues, in
7 Aug 2007 - Vladimir Putin met with participants of the North Pole research expedition Artur Chilingarov and Anatolii
Sagalevich at his residence, where they told the President about the descent of the Mir deep-water submersibles at the