MOSCOW, June 15 The following are highlights
from Russian President Vladimir Putin's annual phone-in on
ON OPPOSITION, STREET PROTESTS
"I'm ready for a dialogue with everyone who really aims for
the people's life improvement, aims for the country's problems
resolution but not exploit the current problems - there are
enough problems always and everywhere - for his own political
PR... for abusing these difficulties."
"They (opposition) only exploit the problems. One has to
offer a solution, not to exploit it. Those who offer solutions,
those are the people who deserve the closest attention and they
have the rights for a dialogue with the government."
"The street protests always emerge as part of democratic
procedures. This is a good way of letting authorities know your
point of view. One thing is to organise the protests, another is
to use it as a provocation tool. This is not being done to
improve the situation in the country."
"First of all, I'm still working. Secondly, I want to say
that the voter, the Russian people, should choose it. Of course,
I myself will make a decision at some point... The bottom line
is that, we should not forget about it, that the voter, the
Russian citizen, only he is able to decide who will take over
the region, the district, the city... or the country."
ON SOCCER WORLD CUP, DOMESTIC LEAGUE
"The international level and class experts say our team will
not play (proper) football: there are too many foreign players
and too little attention to the youth's football development."
ON MOSCOW HOUSING RENOVATION PLANS
"We are talking about the housing fund which will turn into
dilapidated and dangerous housing in 10 to 15 years and the
Muscovites will suffer as much as other regions. I hope that it
will be performed in line with the (recently) adopted
legislation while taking into account of the peoples'
ON SYRIA, CRIMEA BRIDGE
"We aim to establish a political settlement process (in
Syria) between all the sides involved. Our task for the near
future is to increase the capability of the Syrian Republic army
itself, by providing the possibility for it to act on its own
"The Crimea bridge is being built on schedule and even
slightly ahead of it. There is no doubt that all the plans will
be implemented according to the schedule and with the due
"It's not enough just to build the bridge. Countries which
are interested in it - and there are such countries - should be
invited to finance it."
ON EX-FBI DIRECTOR COMEY
"(The) ex-FBI director said that he believed Russia meddled
into the voting process. He didn't provide any evidence once
again, but says there was an influence on our minds, on how we
should act. While this constant American propaganda... direct
allocation of money for this, isn't it an influence on our
minds, on how we should act on voting campaigns?"
"He suddenly said that he taped his talk with the president,
and then passed this conversation to media via his friend. This
sounds strange, when the head of special services records his
talks with the commander-in-chief and passes this talk to the
media. Then what is the difference between the FBI director and
Mr Snowden? He is not the director of the special services then,
but a rights defender, which defends a certain position. By the
way if, in relation to this, a prosecution would be launched
against him (Comey), we are ready to provide him with political
asylum in Russia. He has to know this."
ON RELATIONS WITH THE UNITED STATES
"I know the mood of our people, we don't see America as our
enemy. Moreover, twice in history, when especially hard times
fell on us, we joined our efforts and we were allies in two
"You know better than me, in which spheres we could
cooperate with the United States. First of all, this is
non-proliferation control, to be precise control over weapons of
mass destruction proliferation. We are the biggest nuclear
powers, our cooperation in this sphere goes without saying.
Second of all, this is the fight against poverty, the fight
against the negative impact on the ecology, and so on. We know
though the current administration's stance on the Paris accord.
However, the president does not refuse to discuss this."
"As far as the flashpoints are concerned... there are
positive examples of our cooperation. Syrian problem,
Mid-Eastern problem on the whole... There are other flashpoints
and we are very hopeful for the United States' constructive role
in the resolution of the Ukrainian crisis... We are ready for a
ON THE ARCTIC
"The so called non-regional powers are showing their
interest to this region. And this is great, we are ready for
cooperation with them, but we have to safeguard our priorities."
"We have to ensure... business on these territories, ensure
sovereignty over these territories."
"Let's not forget about the military aspect. The region is
extremely important from the country's defence point of view. I
don't want to stir it up, however, the experts know that the
U.S.' submarines stand on duty to Norway's north, the time of
delivery for missiles is 15 minutes to Moscow, and we have to
understand what is happening there, see what is happening there,
we have to defend this shore accordingly."
"We have now returned there, and I hope that's forever."
ON CENTRAL BANK KEY RATE
"I hope the central bank will keep acting carefully when it
comes to the key rate, but acting towards key rate decrease."
"Why the central bank is acting carefully? Our economy
depends on the hydrocarbons sale. The oil (price) has recently
grew above $50, while today it is already at $48... Most
important for us is not the key rate per se, but that the rate
doesn't change sharply."
ON DEMOGRAPHY, HIS GRANDCHILDREN
"We have to think about incentive measures for young mothers
who give birth to their first child."
"A complex of measures is needed (to boost demography)."
"My children, my daughters, live here, in Russia, in Moscow,
despite all the rumours. And I have grandchildren. They also
live a normal life, daughters are engaged in science, education.
They don't try to get into politics, they live a normal, common
life. As far as the grandchildren are concerned. Some are going
to kindergarten... You know what the matter is? I don't want
them to grow as some princes by blood, I want them to grow into
normal people. For this, they need a normal interaction among
children. Once I reveal their age and name, they will be quickly
identified and they won't be left alone... I had a second
grandson born recently."
ON WESTERN SANCTIONS
"Now a draft law to toughen up the sanctions has emerged in
the U.S. Senate. Why? Nothing extraordinary has happened (in
Russia). Why they started to talk about these sanctions out of
the blue? This is, of course, evidence of ongoing political
infighting in the United States."
"If it wasn't for Crimea, other problems, they would have
invented something else to deter Russia."
"As far as the endless extension of some restrictions are
concerned: if our partners lift sanctions on our economy, we
should do the same, otherwise we will face problems within the
World Trade Organization."
ON THE ECONOMY AND INFLATION
"What does the objective data show? It shows that recession
in the Russian economy is over. We have moved to the period of
"We have witnessed growth for three consecutive quarters."
"We have seen a decline in real incomes of citizens for the
past few years. And the increase in the number of people who
live below the poverty line is especially worrisome."
"We have the lowest inflation in (recent years). Today, it's
4.1 percent, we have never seen it. This shows that we have all
grounds to believe that we will reach 4 percent inflation target
(Reporting by Moscow Newsroom; Editing by Toby Chopra)