After the end of the televised question and answer session, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin gave an interview to the press
4 december 2008
Transcript of the interview:
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Good afternoon. Please, go ahead.
QUESTION: A great many questions were asked today. How will you monitor implementation of the instructions you will give?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Indeed, there have been many questions, and they are vital for people. Quite often, these are critical questions, but they reflect exactly what worries people. I'm indeed grateful to the Russian people for these questions, for the open conversation we had about real problems that the man on the street encounters.
As for monitoring the implementation of my instructions, I have a mechanism for this. Honestly, I don't think that fulfilling the major tasks discussed today is going to be a problem. Take, for instance, helping people who find it difficult to pay interests on loans or their mortgage principals. Or, take permission to use maternity capital during a year; women and their families could be allowed to spend this money on paying off, say, mortgage loans. I don't think that the implementation of other systemic decisions will be a problem.
All these concerns have been registered, and I will make instructions literally within the next couple of days, and they will be sent to the federal authorities which are responsible for their implementation. Moreover, we will carry out some of these instructions together with United Russia. I am hoping very much that many of them will be backed by other parties in the Duma.
QUESTION: Mr Putin, I'm attending the live session for the eighth time. Could you please tell me roughly whether this session is different from the previous ones? Was there a question that has touched you deeply, or helped you discover something you didn't know before?
You have not answered one question in full. Could you please say whether the pension age will be increased?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: As for the first part of your question, I can tell you that I receive questions in advance, which allows me to analyse what worries people most of all. Therefore, when questions are received live, they differ from the main readout only in their wording. In principle, their gist remains the same.
In general, the problems that worry people are known and understandable. It is the Government's responsibility to meet the requirements of society.
I am grateful to you for reminding me that I didn't answer one question. I simply skipped it. It was about a potential increase in the pension age. I can tell you straight away that we are not even planning this.
QUESTION: How would you define Russia's socio-political system?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: A social welfare state with a market economy.
QUESTION: Can you say for certain that you will not revert to the presidential office in the next 12 months?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Strange as it may seem, this question interests foreign journalists more than their Russian colleagues.
I would like to note that President Medvedev and I have established a very good tandem. We have worked together for many years, and I am very happy about our effective cooperation.
The next elections in the Russian Federation will take place in 2012. I think that everyone should perform his duty in his place. There is no need to fuss about what will happen in 2012. Let's make it to that time, and then decide.
QUESTION: Many Russians believe that their living standards depend on the Government. Now, amid the global financial crisis, people's salaries have dropped, and unemployment is on the rise. Aren't you afraid that your popularity might plummet?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: A person entrusted with serving their country at this high level and during such a period should be proud and thankful for the unique chance to serve the country and the people, however hard and difficult the service.
The situation was even worse in early 2000, when Russia's territorial integrity was in jeopardy. We had to deal with a near collapse of the economy and the social system then, but we succeeded. We'll make it this time, too. If one just sits there thinking of how everything is plummeting, nothing will ever rise again.
QUESTION: Mr Putin, can I ask a question about your preparation for this question-and-answer session? When did you begin preparing for this event?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Yesterday.
QUESTION: How come the head of the Government now uses this format of addressing the nation?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: The reason is that only the Chairman of the United Russia party can be addressed through the party's public reception offices.
QUESTION: Will the Government use the last-resort measure, the devaluation of the rouble, if the crisis intensifies?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I think I have already mentioned during this session that we are determined to pursue a weighted and rational economic policy, will monitor global prices of key Russian exports, and closely follow the in- and outflows of foreign currency.
The Central Bank will use this information to frequently adjust the rouble rate against other currencies. Furthermore, the substantial international reserves Russia has accumulated earlier will now help us to pass through the most difficult situations smoothly, without shocks.
QUESTION: Mr Putin, how would you evaluate the Government's work during the crisis? Would you ever consider any major personnel decisions, possibly a decision about yourself? I mean, do you even admit the possibility of resigning from the Prime Minister's post?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I don't think there is a need to do anything of the kind now. I have never in my life fled from problems or responsibility. This time is no exception: I choose to stay and fight. I expect all my colleagues to do likewise.
I also don't think it is advisable to threaten to fire any Cabinet ministers or other Government members. They could have probably done a better job in responding more promptly to the challenges, but on the whole, their actions have been relevant to the dangers Russia faces.
QUESTION: Some think that what took place at the Saturn R&D company is an instance of a prosperous company being nationalised. Does this mean that the state will start another nationalisation wave under the pretext of the financial crisis?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: First, Saturn only looks prosperous. It has huge financial problems with a formidable non-rescheduled debt and a need for extra loans to keep essential programmes going.
Second, its management has officially announced that the company will dismiss 4,000 employees. Is that prosperity?
The company certainly has problems, and the state is joining its holders to stabilise its production and the social sphere. The company is all the more essential in that it works on government defence contracts, and we cannot put up with failures in that vital sphere. Nonetheless, the state is not using it as a pretext for nationalisation and control, and it will not do so later.
At the same time, we are willing to acquire a share in industrial and banking capital if the business itself welcomes it. This is one of the ways to get industrial companies out of the crisis and re-privatise them when the crisis is over, and is in fact what the Swedish Government did when Sweden was experiencing a bad national financial crisis. In fact, all banks were nationalised and then passed back into private hands afterwards.
There is nothing "homemade" about it. We will rely on patterns that have been tested in the world.
QUESTION: You have not answered a question about casinos and gambling areas. I dropped into a casino yesterday. It works as many others, and none intend to close down. Have they received a respite?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I did not answer merely because I forgot a part of the question. Thank you for reminding me of it. No respites are envisaged. Gambling houses will be closed down in compliance with the recently passed law starting January 1, 2009, as the law stipulates.
QUESTION: Mr Putin, will the subsistence wage rise as it has been going up over the previous five years?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: We will see. We definitely should respond to the labour market situation-in particular, concerning guest workers, as we have said today. This is a closely related issue.
QUESTION: You said the Government intended to purchase corporate stock. What does the Government intend to do to overcome the crisis?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: We are discussing the matter with business circles-with major companies and with small and medium-size businesses, which certainly are not affected by the crisis as badly as the former. The managers and proprietors of corporate giants deem it possible and an appropriate trouble-shooting measure for the state to acquire a share in their capital. I told them from the start that such acquisition did not imply state control of the Russian economy but was merely a means of helping it recover in the global financial crisis.
We are willing to consider the chance of joining the holders on companies' requests and on just terms. We will quit in time, and also on just terms. This does not mean that the state is out to buy for a song today and sell for a price tomorrow. There is no way to appoint fair terms unless businesspeople take part in setting them.
Thank you. Goodbye.