Direct Line with Putin: drop in incomes of Russians, band of patriots and Ivan Golunov case

Direct Line with President Vladimir Putin in a nutshell: what the president of Russia talked about for 4 hours with millions of Russians

The 17th Direct Line with Russian President Vladimir Putin took place on Thursday. For more than four hours, the head of the state communicated with the audience live, he was asked 81 questions. In total, more than 2 million messages were received. During the conversation with the Russians, the president made several important statements. Realnoe Vremya presents the most significant ones.

By the beginning of the broadcast, the number of appeals exceeded 1,5 million, and by the end of the broadcast — 2 million. Some viewers expected that Putin would break the record of 2013 when he communicated with the Russians for 4 hours and 47 minutes. The expectations were in vain: this time he has spoken only for 4 hours 16 minutes. Someone expected public lashing of ministers or governors — it wasn't, too. The 17th episode of the annual series was broadcasted on TV channels Channel One Russia, Russia-1, Russia-24, NTV, OTR, Mir, the radio stations Mayak, Vesti FM and Radio Rossii.

Among those who asked the questions were both ordinary citizens and well-known journalists, show business figures, entrepreneurs. In the studio with him, there were politicians, athletes, actors. When questions sounded from regions, the governor of this subject of the Russian Federation was broadcasted on the screens. The presenters of the political show were journalists Pavel Zarubin and Elena Vinnik. They were helped by Valeria Korableva, Olga Pautova, Maria Gladkikh and Naila Asker-zadeh. By the way, the latter was actively discussed in social networks, paying attention to her blue suit.

Falling incomes

Perhaps, Russians are most interested in the topic of wages. Many people are clearly dissatisfied their income. Therefore, it is not surprising that the first question was about this.

“You have said about 10,000, and so forth, — it is really necessary to check what is happening there. Why? Because we have made the decision for the first time, we have brought the minimum wage to the subsistence minimum — 11,280 rubles. If a person works for a full salary, they cannot, they have no right to pay less than this amount. I don't understand, where did this 10,000 is taken,” was the first answer of Putin.

He reminded that the country “faced several shocks at once”, except for sanctions, it is a change in prices for oil and oil products, gas, metals, chemical fertilizers, chemistry — what Russia exports. The president noted that pensions have been indexed this year and the salaries of the servicemen will be increased.

“The general method is to increase productivity, economic development and on this basis to increase and improve the standard of living of citizens, on this basis. Everything else is accompanying things, because where the state will take the money? From how the economy works,” the president told.

In general, a lot of attention was paid to social issues.

“Making peace” with the West

Officials often call the West the cause of our troubles. The topic of sanctions was also touched upon. To which the president answered that he had never argued with the West and hadn’t even the desire to.

“According to experts, as a result of all these restrictions, Russia over these years, since 2014, has received less than it is due by about 50 billion dollars, the EU has lost 240 billion, the US — 17 billion (we have a small trade turnover with them), Japan — 27 billion. It still affects the jobs in these countries, including in the EU: they are losing our market,” said Vladimir Putin.

The import substitution programmes at 667 billion rubles have forced to develop various areas of industry. Moreover, he noted the growth of agricultural exports. Last year, it amounted to 25,7 billion dollars. By 2024, it is set the bar at the level of 45 billion dollars.

Meeting with Trump

Putin was also asked if he wanted to meet with US President Donald Trump.

“Dialogue is always good,” the national leader stressed. “If the U.S. side seems to be interested, we are ready for dialogue — to the extent they are ready. Even if the president wants to meet halfway, there are other restrictions. Moreover, there have appeared restrictions on the part of the election campaign, which Trump has already joined,” said the Russian leader.

According to him, part of the US establishment speculates on the Russian agenda. At the same time, American companies continue to operate in the Russian market. He called the anti-Russian sanctions a big mistake.

By the way, Trump himself has recently announced his desire to get along with Moscow and Beijing and hopes to meet with his Russian counterpart at G20, which takes place this week in Japan.

The introduction of the U.S. in the energy system of Russia

There was also a question whether it is possible to turn off the light from the territory of the United States throughout Russia, in connection with reports of cyber attacks from overseas? To which Putin replied that Russia ensures the security of its energy system.

“We must think about how to protect ourselves from any cyber attacks. From any negative impact. We not only think over it but also we are engaged in it,” he emphasized.

“Talented” President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky

Continuing the theme of foreign policy, the Russian president was asked to make the first step in the direction of President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky in order to improve the relations with the neighbouring state.

In response, Putin recalled Zelensky's play in KVN, calling him talented. However, the Russian leader does not understand the logic of the Ukrainian president in addressing the DNR and LNR issue.

“He stated that he was not going to talk with the separatists, that is with the representatives that these unrecognized republics. But how then to solve this problem? In modern history, there is no example where conflicts of this kind would be resolved without direct dialogue between the conflicting parties. It's impossible. Moreover, the shelling from the Armed Forces of Ukraine have increased. During the election campaign, it was said that they would stop, the blockade would be stopped. The direct violation of the Minsk agreements. Nothing is being done, the blockade is only getting stronger, nothing is happening. Therefore, steps towards — this is the easiest. We need political will on the part of the Ukrainian leadership,” said Vladimir Putin.

Personal responsibility for non-fulfilment of national projects

“Is there a personal responsibility of ministers for non-fulfilment of national projects that they supervise?” the question by SMS was asked.

“They [ministers] were focused and thought about how to implement, achieve the tasks. As for personal responsibility, I do not remember whether the cameras worked there, whether it was in the media, but everyone knows, all colleagues know that personal responsibility in this work is necessary and it is on the shoulders of every colleague who is responsible for a particular direction,” Putin answered.

“The gang of patriots” and the 1990s

One of the questions the president read out himself: “Where is this gang of patriots from United Russia taking us?”

“I will not call a gang those people who were at the helm in the ‘90s, but I want to note that during this time the social sphere, industry, defence industry had completely collapsed — we have lost the “defence”, we almost destroyed the Armed forces, brought the country to a civil war, to bloodshed in the Caucasus and put it on the brink of loss of sovereignty and collapse. Not all people who worked in the ‘90s are responsible for this, but if it happened, there are those who should be responsible. It is the result of their work,” he told.

Non-admission of police officers abroad

Putin also read out another question: “What secrets do the ministry of internal affairs officials possess if they are not allowed abroad?”

“The officials of the ministry of internal affairs, maybe not all, but some of them possess these secrets, but ordinary employees — no. Therefore, we agreed [with the minister of internal affairs of the Russian Federation] that we will expand the geography of the possible visits of the ministry of internal affairs staff abroad. Still, the interior ministry employees have special powers, and in this sense, they are in a special position. They have to make a choice for themselves: whether they want to work with these limitations or not.”

Ivan Golunov case and drugs

There was also the question about journalist Ivan Golunov, who could be prosecuted under the 228th “drug” article.

“It is necessary to establish the control over the activity of law enforcement agencies to prevent offences on their part, so that people were not put in prison because of accountability, to avoid the cases such as with the journalist who was almost in jail. The generals were fired for it. I hope that the necessary investigative actions will be carried out to identify all the perpetrators who created this abnormal situation,” the president said.

As for the 228th article, under which 26 per cent of convicts is in jail, then, according to Putin, there is no need for its liberalization.

Ukrainian refugees in Tatarstan

Another question was raised from Tatarstan. At this time, the camera in the office of Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov turned on. Naberezhnye Chelny is home to a large family of Lyulkovichi from the Donbass (9 children). In 2014, the refugees moved to Russia from Dzerzhinsk (now Toretsk), controlled by the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Now they're renting a room. The head of the family, Vladimir Afanasievich, makes guitars. One of his sons, Yelisey, had to leave a music school because his family can’t afford his training. The family is trying to legalize, but they have failed to get more than refugee status. Their children attend secondary school, but the family has no other social guarantees. Vladimir Lyulkovich reminded that recently the president of Russia has signed a decree on simplification of obtaining Russian citizenship and asked Putin to help with citizenship.

“In addition to the decree, there are also other regulations that allow citizens of Ukraine, located on the territory of the Russian Federation, to obtain citizenship in a simplified manner. I already know that there is a problem related to that the citizens of Ukraine are required to obtain some documents that they can only get in Ukraine. It's just clear that this is a vicious circle. It is hardly possible to solve this problem. So I will look at what adjustments, corrections, additions to the regulatory framework we can make to ensure that the issue was decided in reality, not on paper, that are impossible to fulfil, the president promised.

He added that he would discuss the problem with Rustam Minnikhanov and would do everything to make the process of obtaining citizenship “as liberal as possible” for the citizens of Ukraine.

By Timur Rakhmatullin, Ilshat Galyavin. Photo: