Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Vladimir Putin speaks

Yesterday, Vladimir Putin answered almost 140 questions asked by 51 Russian and 14 foreign journalists. More than 400 print media journalists, around 380 television reporters, 56 reporters from information agencies, more than 60 photographers and more than 40 radio reporters were present in the Round Hall in the Kremlin. Press conference lasted 3 hours and 26 minutes.

Here some interesting quotations.

About G8:
In addition, the G8 is a club which addresses global problems and, first and foremost, security problems. Can someone in this hall imagine resolving, shall we say, problems concerning global nuclear security without the participation of the largest nuclear power in the world, the Russian Federation? Of course not. So everyone who talks about this, whether Russia belongs there or not, can just talk. It is their job. The dog barks, the caravan rolls on.

About Ukraine and gas:

We expect that we shall be able to find an equilibrium in our relations with our Ukrainian partners. I am happy about the fact that, in contrast to previous years, our Ukrainian partners said straight out that they were taking this gas, there was no tentative to cover up, nor to distort the fact. It is important to us that we are paid for this gas according to the prices we agreed on.
About Hamas:
Our position concerning Hamas differs from the American and western European positions. The foreign ministry of the Russian Federation never declared that Hamas is a terrorist organization. But this does not mean that we approve and support everything that Hamas does and all the declarations that they have made recently. We think that it is one thing when this political force was the opposition and trying to get into power and we know that throughout the whole world very often the opposition makes very radical statements. It is another thing when it receives the people's vote of confidence and must make sure that the people who believed in this movement feel the positive results of their authorities' work. And for this it is necessary to leave behind the extremist positions, to recognize Israel's right to exist and to have relations with the international community.
About English spyes expelling:
I have already talked about the decision to expel the diplomats. Let them just stay here, in the residence. It is pleasant for us that these people are now under our control. And how will their colleagues react? I imagine you know that in the residences and among the diplomatic representatives of any country there are a number of clean diplomats and representatives from the special services. This is not everything that we have found out. Let them sit here.

About Georgia and gas:

There was an unfortunate incident, and yes, deliveries were suspended. Our experts worked around the clock in the mountains in minus 30 degree weather to restore Georgia's power supply.

What have we heard and seen from the Georgian leadership? Some were simply spitting at us. And the citizens of Georgia must understand that such policies vis-a-vis Russia will not improve the situation of the ordinary Georgian. The responsibility for this lies with the Georgian authorities.

About successor:

We have a great many people in Russia, a great many, who could head the country. Only the voters, the Russian people, the citizens of the Russian Federation can give the final answer to this question.

About oil deprivatization:

We have about ten quite large private oil companies such as LUKOIL, TNK BP, Surgutneftegaz and others – there are a great deal of them. Nobody is going to nationalize them, nobody is going to interfere with their activities. They are going to develop according to market conditions like private companies. I think that such a balance is better for the Russian economy today, and this includes active participation from our foreign partners and shareholders. Shall we look at TNK BP which, as you know, is 50 percent a Russian company and 50 percent owned by British Petroleum. I regularly meet with shareholders. Our British colleagues have told me that they are happy with working in the Russian market.

Full transcript of the press conference you can read here.

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