Prime Minister Vladimir Putin meets with journalists of the government press pool and wishes them a Happy New Year
28 december 2011
Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon. Happy New Year to you!
Remarks: Thank you. Happy New Year to you, Mr Putin!
Question: You have sent your friend Kudrin to the rally…
Vladimir Putin: Kudrin again… I haven’t sent him anywhere. He went on his own, he is an adult.
Question: And what about you? Are you going to start a dialogue with the opposition?
Vladimir Putin: We have always maintained a dialogue with the opposition. Sometimes, when I see what is happening or when my acquaintances or relatives say something about their interactions with officials, I myself want to…
Question: Go to a rally?
Vladimir Putin: Do you remember how the wonderful character General Charnota speaks to the millionaire in “The Run”?
Remark: I know you like the character.
Vladimir Putin: Yes, very much so – I love both the actor and this character. He said: “Sorry, but I would join the Reds, finish you off and then quit immediately.” We have never been against dialogue with the opposition. We are against only one thing (I’m personally against it) – any manifestation of extremism, any whatsoever! Any evidence of extremism must be nipped in the bud, whereas dialogue is a must, it is essential for normal development.
Question: How are you going to conduct it?
Vladimir Putin: I don’t know – there are many forms. There is the Public Chamber, consultations… a lot of options.
Question: What about those who were on Bolotnaya Square?
Question: Shall we prompt you?
Vladimir Putin: Look, I don’t even know who was there.
Remark: We can prompt you.
Question: What do you think about Navalny? (Alexei Navalny – famous blogger) There is a man who seemed to…
Vladimir Putin: There were many different leaders there.
Remark: He is one of the leaders.
Vladimir Putin: Thank God. There are also other leaders, and he is one of them. They must formulate some common platform and common position that would make it clear what people want.
Remark: Why don’t we call them to join us?
Vladimir Putin: They are all very different. Have you looked at them? Many of them represent Yabloko and the Communist Party; there are some representatives of the nationalist and liberal movements. But what about a common platform? They don’t have one. Whom should we talk to? Apparently, we will have to discuss their grievances and problems with each of them. But this requires thorough analysis.
Question: Will you take part in debates with your opponents, presidential candidates? You’re not afraid of them, are you?
Vladimir Putin: I don’t know, but it is not a matter of being afraid. Fear has nothing to do with it. The point is that the opposition is not doing any concrete work. They always demand the impossible and then nothing is done usually, but this comes later. So, there must be dialogue and I will think about what form it should take.
Question: Mr Putin, there were changes in the government yesterday. Will there be other appointments before the presidential election? Why was it decided to announce these appointments and resignations now, before the New Year, rather than closer to March?
Vladimir Putin: Who has taken these decisions?
Reply: The president. But this is your team…
Vladimir Putin: Ask the president.
Question: Dmitry Peskov said that we will see Putin-2. And what do you think of Putin-2?
Vladimir Putin: Can you be number two, number three?
Vladimir Putin: This is true of every person. But every person is developing and must meet the demands of today and tomorrow. By the way, I have just met with a Turkish delegation. Instead of inventing all these secondary questions, why don’t you focus on what is happening now? Turkey has given us permission to build the South Stream! Do you realise what an event this is in Europe’s energy sphere?
Question: Do you know how Kiev will react to this?
Vladimir Putin: I think the response will be positive.
Remark: They will be very happy.
Vladimir Putin: A fair presidential election in 2012.
Question: How will you celebrate the New Year? What presents will you give to your family?
Vladimir Putin: All kinds of gifts, some modest things, something customary for the New Year, some souvenirs.
Question: What do you expect from the next year? Any difficulties?
Vladimir Putin: Yes. We have many problems in the world and in the European economy. Fifty-one per cent of our trade is with Europe. They cannot overcome these difficulties and we are looking on with concern. Some countries have sunk into recession. Recession means economic decline for three months in a row. Some countries are in recession. This is an official recession and we are very worried.
I spoke at the government meeting yesterday… Look what is happening there; unemployment is above 17% in Greece and 22.8% in Spain. These are astronomical figures – almost every third person of the working population does not have a job! This is very serious. Just imagine what it means!
Remark: A semi-revolutionary situation.
Vladimir Putin: Indeed. We have minimal figures, a bit over 6% – 6.3%, to be exact. This is the result of our work. Our work was purposeful – we drafted a programme to influence the labour market and it worked in the regions. Nothing happened by itself. Our inflation is also minimal. We did all we could to this end. Some said this was impossible. At one time inflation exceeded 100%; for a long time it stood at 30% and 25%; we had double-digit figures all the time. I’m not sure these are exact figures but inflation is about 5% in Britain and 6% here. Do you understand? This is a result, a real result that consolidates the foundations of our economy and gives us an opportunity to develop our social sphere.
I would very much like to see our colleagues in Europe cope with these problems that may affect us. The markets are dwindling; they don’t have enough liquidity. They are starting to withdraw money from developing economies, and money is slowly but surely leaving our country.
However, I hope that the European Union will take decisions to consolidate its integration and stabilise its financial sphere. Germany and France are persistently working to this end. I think that the Central Bank of Europe will play a bigger role in overcoming the crisis. I don’t want to go into details but experts will understand what I mean. I hope that well-balanced decisions will be found to consolidate Europe and its common institutions, on the one hand, and to prevent this consolidation from ending in failure through excessive disputing, on the other. I see that people are aware of this, that the Central Bank of Europe is joining the effort. I don’t have any apocalyptic visions or sentiments, and I would like to wish them every success. If all of us coordinate our efforts, we will gradually overcome the crisis despite the existence of numerous threats. I would like to hope that next year we will avoid some of them or nip them in the bud.
Question: Will you take a vacation during the election campaign? Are we going to travel a lot next year? How will you organise…?
Vladimir Putin: I am not required by law to go on vacation. I think I simply won’t have the time for it.
Question: Mr Putin, is there any chance of you becoming acting president until March?
Vladimir Putin: Mr Medvedev and I have not discussed this, but if this is a recommendation, we’ll consider it. It’s not necessary.
Question: Will you have at least a couple of days for a break?
Remark: Let’s go on a business trip. Let’s drive a Lada-Kalina to Sochi.
Vladimir Putin: I will try to make it. At any rate, we have agreed on this.
Question: Mr Putin, is it hard for you to leave the White House or is the Kremlin still…?
Vladimir Putin: I haven’t yet… Are you ousting me?
Remark: Not at all.
Vladimir Putin: In general, I have enjoyed this job. You handle very concrete matters. No doubt, the government is responsible for the socio-economic situation in the country. The government is directly in charge of it. But it gives you a certain drive when you realise that it is your personal responsibility. Of course, when the crisis was just beginning to unfold we were alarmed. There was too much uncertainty; it was impossible to predict everything but I kept saying if you remember that there will be no repeat of the 1998 shocks. I promised this even though the equation consisted of so many unknown quantities and it was difficult to say anything for certain. But I said this, and I’m very glad I did what I said. I just want to make a point that there are many things in the government that require direct involvement and direct responsibility. I love this job.
That’s it. Good bye!
Remarks: Happy New Year!