Russian President Vladimir Putin started his large press conference at midday, December 20th. The conference brought together more than 1,200 Russian and foreign journalists.
The head of state started with statistics. According to him, the growth of GDP in January-October of this year made up 3.7 percent. According to Vladimir Putin, this is a good result. Recession in the world economy (and in particular in the euro area) became an obstacle for reaching better results, as well as a poor harvest in Russia. Last year, more than 90 million tons of grain were collected. This year, the harvest has dropped to 74 million tons.
According to the President, the inflation rate this year makes up 6.3 percent. Russia’s industrial growth is about twice as less as it was last year – 2.7 percent. Unemployment last year accounted for 6.6 percent of the economically active population. This year, the index makes up 5.4 percent.
The President also noted the growth of the population’s income, connecting it, among other things, with the growth of salaries and pensions of military personnel. Vladimir Putin also said that the mother’s capital in Russia would be significantly indexed.
The first question that was asked to Vladimir Putin was the question about the infamous Magnitsky Act and Russia’s new law to ban the adoptions of Russian children by American citizens. The President said that Magnitsky Act was an unfriendly move on the part of the United States. According to him, Russian officials must not keep their money in the U.S., but the matter is not about officials. The fact is that the anti-Soviet law (the Jackson-Vanik amendment) was replaced with the anti-Russian law.
As for the ban on the adoptions of Russian children by Americans, Putin said that the overwhelming majority of Russian citizens have a negative attitude to foreign adoptions. The President believes that Russia should develop assistance to orphans and guardians.
Vladimir Putin also said that Russian MPs were concerned about U.S. courts, rather than American citizens adopting Russian children (most of them are decent people, he said). U.S. courts release offenders who abuse Russian children. According to him, Russian experts are not admitted to such trials.
“This is not how they should behave with Russia. Get-out attitude is not acceptable,” Putin said.
The President also reminded that in the U.S., many people were jailed without charges, and no one was punished for secret CIA prisons. According to Putin, Russia’s Parliament, the State Duma, responded to the Magnitsky Act adequately.
Vladimir Putin, responding to reporters’ questions, said that in general, he was satisfied with the work of the Government and the Prime Minister. A correspondent of one of central agencies asked the president about the motives and causes behind dismissals of ministers.
As for dismissals, “I haven’t sacked too many,” Putin joked. “They need to understand that there should be no difference between statements, campaign rhetoric and what is being done. Everyone must work as a team,” he said.
During the conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin, a reporter of Echo of Moscow Radio Station asked Putin a question about the construction of the M-10 Highway between Moscow and St. Petersburg. A part of the highway is said to go through the notorious Khimki forest near Moscow. The president was also asked whether he would sign the law banning adoptions of Russian children by American citizens.
Answering the question about the highway, the president said that the construction was delayed for 18 months. Putin said that the losses of French investors, who threatened to withdraw from the project in case of further delays, would be disastrous. According to him, environmental issues should be weighed against social problems.
At the same time, he added, local authorities are also responsible for the issue. If there had been no clashes around the Khimki forest, a part of the road would have been built by now.
As for the law on adoptions, Putin said he had not seen it yet. He promised to read it “today or tomorrow,” before making a decision.
A correspondent of the newspaper Izvestia said that Putin had established a very strict regime of authoritarian power during several years. The journalist asked Putin whether it was an obstacle for Russia.
In response, Putin said that he considered it very important to ensure stability in Russia. He did not agree with the statement that said that there was an authoritarian or totalitarian system built in the country. According to him, he left the post of the head of state after two terms. Putin noted that he could change the Constitution to act otherwise: “You know, it’s easy to do.”
He also stressed out that the people, who believe that democracy and law enforcement were two different things, were wrong. According to him, democracy is not anarchy.
The anarchy of the 1990s, the President said, discredited the market economy and democracy. The president said that law and order, discipline, adherence to the letter of the law was not contrary to democratic principles of government.
Putin said that the rumors of his allegedly poor health were beneficial to his political opponents. According to the President, they try to put into question the legitimacy and the capacity of power.
When asked about his present state of health, Putin replied: “Do not wait!” He advised the journalist, who asked the questions, not to visit the websites that spread such rumors.
When asked about his own children, Putin did not reveal many details, of course. “My children are fine. They are in Moscow. They study and they partially work, and I am proud of them,” he said emphatically.
Skolkovo is an interesting idea that should be developed, Putin said, responding to a question about the prospects for building the innovation center outside Moscow. Journalists asked the Russian president whether the Skolkovo project was stalled or not.
“Impulses that may hinder the Skolkovo project do not come from me,” he said. Dmitry Anatolievich (Medvedev -ed.) serves as the Prime Minister, he is in charge of this issue. If you remember, it was me, who once invited Dmitry Anatolievich to do the Skolkovo project.
“Skolkovo is one of many Russian science cities, I think it is a good idea, and it needs to grow,” said Vladimir Putin.