RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: “Direct Line with Vladimir Putin (transcript concluded)” – KremlinRu

File Photo of Putin Sitting at Desk, Looking Down, Writing, During Call-In Show, adapted from screenshot of video at kremlin.ru

(Kremlin.ru – June 20, 2019 – en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/60795)

Yelena Vinnik: Mr President, should we continue with our quick questions?

Vladimir Putin: Yes, please.

Pavel Zarubin: Let’s continue.

“There is an interesting film titled The President’s Vacation, where the main character, without his guards, decided to see real life in Russia. Would you like to travel across Russia like that?” Alexander Yerastov, Vladimir Region.

Vladimir Putin: First, I do travel across Russia.

Second, I would really like to relax freely, unrecognised, but I understand that this is impossible. So I have to make do with real life.

Third, it is one thing to have a trip, even a long one like I once took in Zhiguli, travelling for 2,000 kilometres in the Far East and inspecting the road connecting Khabarovsk and Chita.

However, even if I go somewhere unrecognised, it does not give me a full picture of the situation in Russia, because you can only see specific places and specific situations, while our country is large and not everything is concentrated in one place. It is necessary to have information from different sources in order to understand what is going on in Russia.

Third, I do travel across Russia and look. I can even, I am not afraid to mention this, see what is happening in the regions through the newly painted grass and benches. You know, I can see this. That is why I will continue my trips, but I will have to take what holidays are possible.

Yelena Vinnik: We know you like jokes and often quote them. Do you know any about yourself?

Vladimir Putin: Of course, I have heard a lot.

Yelena Vinnik: Please tell one.

Vladimir Putin: No. Now I have a colleague who does this professionally and much better than I do. (Laughter.)

Pavel Zarubin: Viktor Mitrofanov, Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area. “Officials inform you about what they believe necessary, and it is often far from reality. Thus they knowingly decrease your ratings and the public trust. When will you make them stand by their words?”

Vladimir Putin: I think that it is an exaggeration to say that all officials always provide false information. Of course, this is not true. But perhaps it happens.

You know, to tell the truth, during all these years in office, I have never seen anybody knowingly trying to misinform me. I cannot remember any such case.

Perhaps they are the ones who are misinformed and they report their position to me when it is not objective; or their proposals regarding some problem are not the best solution. This can happen and happens quite often.

But what can we do in such a situation? We need to gather opinions from many sources and make decisions based on a consensus.

Yelena Vinnik: “What is Russia’s greatest problem now?”

Vladimir Putin: I spoke about this at the beginning and in the middle of our conversation. Since the main goal we must achieve in several ways within the framework of our national projects is higher labour efficiency, which we must use to improve the living standards of the people, one of our biggest challenges is better labour efficiency. This is what we must get down to.

Pavel Zarubin: The topic of officials is very popular. When will inefficient officials be replaced with robots?

Vladimir Putin: Even if we decide to replace some people with robots, we will need to ask the Kasperskys for assistance, we will need to ask Yandex for help because you need people to program robots.

Yelena Vinnik: If there are any left.

“They are slinging mud at us, yet you call them partners. Why are you so polite?”

Vladimir Putin: I would not say I am very polite. However, first of all, even though I grew up on the street, it was a street in St Petersburg, where even the urban environment incites certain harmony. These are not empty words; this is really so.

The urban environment and architecture are very harmonious [in St Petersburg], and they are bound to influence human development and our understanding of harmony. It is my first point.

Second, the Hermitage, the Russian Museum and the Tovstonogov Bolshoi Drama Theatre are all part of the environment in which I grew up. Political culture is part of our culture as well. If it is missing in some people, it is their problem.

Third, I represent Russia, which is a country with a rich culture. I must never allow myself to forget this.

And lastly, the fourth point. When the relationship between countries becomes critically complex or turns sour, ties between these countries’ top officials are very often the last resort for restoring relations, and this door must never be shut. We must serve the interests of our nations. I must never forget this either.

Pavel Zarubin: Alexander Kuznetsov from Chelyabinsk asks: “Are you not tired of being President?”

Vladimir Putin: No. Otherwise I would not have run for this term.

Yelena Vinnik: “When will the railway section of the Crimean Bridge be built?”

Vladimir Putin: The work is going according to plan, so the railway part of the Crimean Bridge should be commissioned at the end of this year.

Pavel Zarubin: “Please tell us the truth – are you an alien?”

Vladimir Putin: No. I have evidence and witnesses such as my family, my relatives, my children after all.

Yelena Vinnik: “Mr President, do you sometimes feel ashamed and if so of what?”

Vladimir Putin: This is such a serious question. And it is not easy to talk about it to a multimillion audience. Of course I am, like anyone else, like any normal person, I hope. I have already spoken about this publicly.

Frankly speaking, it is even hard to talk about it now, but still. It was in the early 2000s; I travelled a lot. The country was going through a very difficult time. So we flew to one of the regions. It was the end of the working day, late in the evening and dark.

It was autumn, and there was slush and mud everywhere, and I was to walk some distance, walking in this slush to the car. Suddenly, an elderly woman appeared in front of me, said something indistinctly and suddenly fell to her knees, and gave me a note.

I promised her to read it. I took it, gave it to the assistants, and it got lost. I will never forget this. I am still ashamed of that. So now I try to carefully study everything that is sent or given to me.

You know, it’s not always possible to resolve problems. Some are unsolvable. I am pretty sure, even certain, as to what was written in that note, having read dozens of such notes by now. Surely, something about helping a son who is in prison, or something like that. But this is not the point; the point is that it has been lost.

Pavel Zarubin: Thank you. Shall we wrap up now?

Yelena Vinnik: Mr President, maybe you wanted to answer some more questions?

Vladimir Putin: I would like to say thank you for today’s joint work together.

Yelena Vinnik: Thank you very much.

Pavel Zarubin: Thank you.

[featured image is file photo]