Putin says the Medvedev government is not weak

Direct Line with Vladimir Putin.

Direct Line with Vladimir Putin.

Alexander Vilf / RIA Novosti
The Russian President has received more than a million questions from different parts of the country. The Q&A took close to four hours this time.

15:40 MSK: Putin ends the Q&A session.

15:39 MSK: Is it convenient to have such a weak government? Putin says the Medvedev government is not weak.

15:36: Question from Crimea: Will you run for President in 2018? Putin does not answer the question. He says he needs to concentrate on the work at hand.

15:35 MSK: 

15:30 MSK: Question from Tula. A military plant worker asks if the State will buy fewer weapons from his plant. Putin says, that budget is being reduced, but defense contracts will stay untouched.

15:25 MSK: Putin says there is so much global interest in Russian weapons that Russia sometimes can't meet the demand in foreign markets. So several new factories have been built.

15:17 MSK: Question from a graduate student in Tomsk. Is it possible to facilitate the admission of foreign students in Russian universities? Putin believes that Siberia is safer than Europe. He says Russia will work to attract more international students to the region.

15:16 MSK: Putin believes that a controversial reform plan is helping the Russian Academy of Sciences achieve its goals. For instance, there are more young scientists now.

15:11 MSK: On Nagorno-Karabakh, Putin says a few years ago he felt that the parties had found the right balance, but that was apparently not the case. Russia is one of the most interested parties in solving the conflict, he adds.

15:05 MSK: Why was the national guard created? Putin says it was for the authorities to be able to control the circulation of weapons in the country.

In addition, Putin promised that the reform of power structures would make migration and narcotics-control more effective.

15:00 MSK: What do you think about the new Ukrainian government? 

"Nothing. I neither know its composition nor its priorities. I only know what was planned and what was done. The plan of the previous government of Ukraine consisted of nine points. They only followed up on two of those points."

14:55 MSK: The Minsk agreements are not being honored. What will happen in the Donbass?

Putin says that first of all, the people who live in the Donbass need to feel safe. This means that Ukraine should amend its constitution, something that it said it would do under the Minsk agreement. The law on the special statute of these areas should also be adopted.

Putin asks the U.S. to exert influence on Ukraine, so that they do what they promised.

14:54 MSK: A question on whether the Eurasian Economic Union can have a single currency. Putin says a single currency is possible if all partners agree to not repeat the same mistakes made by the EU.

14:50 MSK: A question on the inspections of businesses. An employee of the Agency for Strategic Initiatives says that the authorities inspect his business four or five times a year. When will the state develop normal relationships with businesses, he asks. Putin said the government is working on this issue. But, according to him, bureaucrats are still trying to make money from inspections of businesses. Putin says that all official checks on businesses should be done together with the Prosecutor's office.

14:45 MSK: 

14:35 MSK: A farmer from Kaluga region asks when the President will punish bureaucrats who create unnecessary hurdles. For example, the veterinary services require too much information, he says. Putin promised to look into the work of the veterinary service.

14:30 MSK: 

14:25 MSK: 

14:22 MSK: A question from a farmer about sanctions. He is afraid that if Russia cancels the food embargo on foreign products, Russian manufacturers will not be able to repay their loans and will go bankrupt. 

Putin says he does not think that the West will remove its sanctions on Russia soon. Therefore, the food embargo on the West is likely to stay. However, if the situation changes, then the embargo would indeed violate WTO rules. He promised to pay close attention to the matter.

14:20 MSK: Putin asks the journalist to understand and forgive Kadyrov. He adds that the Chechen leader is hotheaded.

14:15 MSK: Question from well-known journalist Sergei Dorenko on whether the search for "enemies of the people" has begun. He also asks whether Putin can tell Ramzan Kadyrov to stop looking for them. The journalist is referring to a scandal that was caused by Kadyrov’s harsh words against the opposition.

14:10 MSK: The role of United Russia is great, but it does not mean that the party has preferential status in the political landscape. Putin says that other political parties win elections in many cities such as Yekaterinburg and Novosibirsk.

14:07 MSK: When asked about United Russia, Putin says the party has been in power for a long time and carries a lot of responsibility. People have a right to demand results.  United Russia is a stabilizing force, he adds.

14:06 MSK: 

14:00 MSK: Question from an employee of the MISiS University. Will the government reduce support for higher education? Putin says government support for education and science will remain, but funds will be channeled through special grants.

13:51 MSK: Putin says if the West always claims special rights and a special status, it will not be able to build democratic relations with Russia.

13:50 MSK: Responding to a question about the Panama Papers scandal, Putin says the Western media is engaging in "provocations.” He adds that Russia cannot be manipulated.

13:40 MSK: Request for help from workers of a canning factory in the Sakhalin Region. They have not been paid their salaries for months and are stuck on the island of Shikotan. The plant management refused to take part in the Q&A session. They asked Putin to understand the situation.

The workers appealed for help to the Public Prosecutor's office in Sakhalin, but did not receive any response. Putin says local government officials, prosecutors and the labor service have to respond. Putin instructed the Prosecutor General of Russia to look into the matter.

Putin expresses regret.

13:31 MSK: Elizabeth from the Irkutsk Region. What would you prefer to take, the unified state exam or an oral exam? Putin: Oral exam

13:30 MSK: Question from a school newspaper in the Perm Region. If you were offered three wishes, what would you ask for?  Putin: “It is better not to rely on fairy-tale characters. It is better for us to work and achieve everything ourselves.”

13:25 MSK: 

13:18 MSK: Putin says that since Soviet times, the housing sector has not received enough money. The money was used for the production of weapons. This even resulted in a shortage of basic items such as soap.

Putin says that the state is working to make the rates for public utilities more transparent. However, the state has no influence on additional services.

13:15 MSK: Question about housing: "When will housing and utility-services costs stop rising?”

13:13 MSK: On the issue of doping, Putin says that Meldonium-usage could not be considered doping. “It supports the heart.” Putin added that Russia needed to improve its communication with WADA, and also ensure that Russian athletes did not use drugs.

13:10 MSK: Question from a pensioner about Putin's ex-wife. "Is it true that she got married?" Putin says his ex-wife is fine and that she's happy with her life. He is also happy that she’s doing fine.  He says they often meet, but didn’t answer the question about her alleged marriage.

13:00 MSK: Putin says that the business associated with waste disposal and landfills is poorly regulated and highly criminalized.

There are three ways to address the issue. Enterprises can build factories for waste disposal. The second option is for businesses to unite and build a plant. And the third is for the state to build one.

12:55 MSK: Message from Omsk: Local bureaucrats promise to repair the roads in the city center by May 1

12:54 MSK: Putin promised that the fourth line of a power bridge to Crimea will open in the near future. Thus Crimea will become independent from Ukraine when it comes to the supply of electricity

12:51 MSK: "As for Turkey, attacks occur every week there. I'm sure that the Turkish authorities will seek to ensure the safety of tourists, including Russians. But can they do it?"

12:50 MSK: Putin says that flights to Egypt would be restarted when it is safe to do so.

12:45 MSK: If both Poroshenko and Erdogan are drowning, who would you save first, 12-year old Varvara asks.

Putin: "If someone decides to drown, it is impossible to save him. But we can lend a helping hand to any partner".

12:43 MSK: From medicine to international relations. Putin says that Russia has good relations with the world. Turkey is Russia's friend despite its unfriendly actions against Russia.

12:39 MSK: Putin says that Russia has analogues of foreign drugs and that the government controls the price of such medicines. However, drug manufacturers say that it is unprofitable to produce cheap domestic drugs because they are made partly of foreign components. The government can either provide subsidies or raise prices.

12:38 MSK: 

12:35 MSK: Dmitry from Moscow says his parents are upset about the fact that pharmacies only have expensive imported drugs.

12:29 MSK: Putin says that Russia has not totally withdrawn from Syria. Russia helped the Syrian army stand on its own feet. After Russia pulled back some forces from Syria, the Syrian army was able to retake a part of its lost territory.

12:26 MSK: Former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin will actively participate in an expert center headed by the President. The center will deal with issues of economic development.

12:25 MSK: Oksana from Lipetsk asked what the most important economic issues are at the moment. The President says the biggest challenges are in improving the efficiency of the economy and helping the most vulnerable segments of the society. Putin says Russia needs to change the structure of its economy.

12:21 MSK: When asked about the state of the economy, Putin says he expects growth next year.

12:16 MSK: A pensioner from Moscow asked about the rise in food prices. Putin acknowledged that prices are really rising.  They rose by 14% last year and by 2.2% this year, he says. He says the price rise is artificial and is caused by the fact that Russian manufacturers are not able to successfully substitute imported products.

12:10 MSK: 

12:08 MSK: Putin: "We allot significant financial resources to road construction. There are several questions that need to be answered when it comes to our state roads this year, and this doesn’t just concern Omsk. We need to know how these funds are spent. It turned out that a lot of funds are being spent."

“We need to make sure that these funds were spent directly on roads and road repairs. This year, we decided to increase the excise tax on fuel by one percent. Of these two rubles, one ruble should be left over for roads. It is about 40 billion rubles.”

12:06 MSK: The first question is from Omsk: Ekaterina asks about the condition of roads. “We don't have normal roads in the city center,” she says

11:59 MSK: The session is going to start.

11:50 MSK: On the eve of Vladimir Putin's Q&A session his press secretary Dmitry Peskov told reporters that most of the questions received from Russians were about the socio-economic situation, housing and domestic issues.

According to Peskov, the number of questions asked exceeded one million and Putin worked on the responses overnight.

Judging by the questions, Russians seem to support Putin’s foreign policy and are not overly concerned about the fall in the value of the ruble, Peskov said.

This 14th Q&A session will be broadcast live by all major Russian media outlets.

After the first session on December 24, 2001, the Q&A has been held every year since, except 2004 and 2012. 

The previous session was held on April 16, 2015 and lasted 3 hours and 57 minutes. Putin answered 74 out of 3.5 million questions. 

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