Putin talks about opposition, Khodorkovsky and Pussy Riot

Putin and opposition

Russian President Vladimir Putin talked about opposition, Pussy Riot and Mikhal Khodorkovsky's release in a film,  shown on the Central Television program of NTV television on Sunday.

People of action alone can become leaders in Russia, but the skill of being loudly critical is not enough, he said.

"The unessential will be brushed away in a natural way, and original and smart people will emerge and assume responsibility for certain areas, for certain aspects of public life and probably for the entire nation," Putin said.

When asked about Alexei Navalny and other Russian opposition leaders, Putin said that "if a person claims the role of a leader, in whatever field, he must do something to prove his efficiency."

"It is one thing criticizing, even fairly, and quite another proposing a constructive agenda," he added.

"I am not rejecting anyone and I do not want to denigrate the strong points of any of the possible opposition leaders. But besides the hustle and bustle, and the desire to impress, one has to do something and to demonstrate his positive potential. Only afterwards can one claim the role of a leader, wherever. There are many people  claiming the leading role, but 'society' has the final say," Putin said.

"One can hardly sense a leader in a person merely seeing his discontent or hearing his criticism calculated to impress," Putin added.

He said he is quite tolerant about the opposition despite their "offensive ways." "And I do hope that really serious people will emerge on the scene," he added.

Putin and Khodorkovsky

Putin also talked about  former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky. He said that he would not mind his release from prison in the case it does not harm law and order.

"I do not think we should do anything harmful for law and order… If that can be done in compliance with the legal procedures, let it be so. But there are certain rules to follow," he said.

An appeal for pardon is a part of this procedure, the president said.

"He (Khodorkovsky) must ask for pardon. This is a way to solve the problem," Putin said.

He noted that U.S. courts punish similar crimes with "100 and 200 years in prison. And that is all right, no one raises objections."

"If he (Khodorkovsky) asks for pardon, we will consider his appeal. We will do that amicably, not bloodthirstily," Putin said.

Then President, incumbent Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said in April 2012 that Khodorkovsky could be pardoned only if he made the pardon appeal and the admission of guilt was not compulsory.

Khodorkovsky's mother said she would not beg her son to make the pardon appeal. "I think it is plain that he (the president) would not do it," she said. The mother said she "would neither discourage nor persuade (her son for ask for pardon). That is his wish, right and choice only."

Khodorkovsky was sentenced to 13 years in two trials.

Putin and Pussy Riot

Regarding the members of the Pussy Riot band sentenced to two years for their action at the Moscow Christ the Savior Cathedral, Putin said that they had got what they wanted.

"Their arrest was right and their sentence was right. One must not erode moral fundamentals and undermine the country. What will be left without that?" he wondered. The performers must have known that "this is our last stronghold," he said.

"My first reaction was to apologize to the believers for what they did; I thought that would be the end of it," the president said. But the case was opened and "the court heard it and sentenced them to two years."

"I have nothing to do with that. They got what they asked for," he added.

Putin asked whether program anchor Vadim Takmenev knew how the punk band's name was translated. Takmenev said he knew but could not say that on television.

"You see, you cannot say that aloud; these girls must be talented; they forced the whole world to pronounce that word," Putin said.

Takmenev recalled that the girls were sentenced for the incitement to religious hatred but they claimed it was a protest against the patriarch and the president.

"As you know and as the experts confirmed, everything concerning the president was a later addition; they said nothing like that in the Cathedral," Putin said.

"I do not know if it is so or not. But if it is, then it was a way to catch attention and a way to defend themselves, as if they were engaged in politics rather than simply committed an act of hooliganism and defiled the Cathedral," the president said.

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