Daring what no other politician in the world has, Vladimir Putin responded for a 12th year and over 4 hours of live broadcasting to more than 80 questions from citizens.
The questions were gathered and continued to arrive during the interview via phone calls, text messages, live links and videotaped speeches. They exceeded 2.5 million this year fueling the peculiar relationship and personal expression of "understanding" of the President with voters and citizens of the country. On the eve of the "straight line" with the people his popularity reached 71% versus 57% a year ago, while the most popular post of all questions was "we thank you for Crimea". Kremlin even complained that few days ago online scammers appeared trying to take advantage of the strong desire of the Russian people to communicate with Putin, supposedly promising that in exchange for financial remuneration they could "promote" any question or guaranty it will be answered during the "straight line"!
The issue of Ukraine and Crimea was, of course, at the heart of questions and answers. From this view the "confession" that the men of the Russian army, the "little green men", as named in the Russian press, were behind men in self-defense of Crimea stood out, as he said they acted impeccably and guaranteed the free will in the referendum on the peninsula. We wanted to avoid what is happening now in eastern Ukraine, where tanks turn against people, the Russian leader said, insisting that the talk of the existence of Russian paratroopers between militia forces rebelling eastern Ukraine is nonsense. Clarifying that Crimea and Eastern Ukraine are separate, "where the proportion of Russians and other people is 50-50", he didn't fail to point out that the land never belonged to Ukraine, but was assigned in the 1920s after Bolshevik revolution, "God knows why", so the land was lost, "but not the people". For this reason Moscow will follow different tactics in Eastern Ukraine and will support the maximum claim rights of local people, "hoping not to have to use his right, that he got from the Russian upper house, to send armed forces".
"How can you trust Europeans?"
The Russian President didn't fail to express his "sympathy" towards the European leadership of our day, remembering an incident with Secretary General of NATO Rasmussen, who had taped with a recorder a meeting of them and released the content, when he was prime minister of Denmark. "What trust can you have for such people?" he wondered adding he was interested about Rasmussen's purpose, who had answered "for the story". "It's a great honor" he then answered, but in such way no transnational conversations is possible...
Referring to the Barroso letter, which will be followed by the official EU response after a warning from Putin, he gave one month period to EU and Ukraine to settle the issue of Ukrainian debts. "Kiev didn't fulfill its contractual obligations even after discounts, which we granted, so what is the point for deductions. Even today we could discontinue sales and ask for prepayment, but we will do so in one month" he said explaining that in a month from today Moscow will grant Kiev only as much gas it prepays. The caveat is of course about the "habit" of the Ukrainian government to "steal" gas from that promoted to European consumers, if for some reason Moscow doesn't send sufficient quantities.
Guest star in the communication of the Russian president with citizens was Edward Snowden, who reminded his own adventures and the widespread theft of all personal data of all citizens from U.S. secret services, so it could control any situation in Russia. Putin replied starting from the premise that "we're both professionals" to continue arguing that "fortunately in Russia we don't have that much money, and that in the U.S. our secret services are under the direct control of the state and society", therefore nothing can happen without judicial authorization.
Talking about the need to restore the people living especially in the Crimean peninsula, he referred initially to the Tatars , the largest minority and old residents of the area, reminding, however, that the recovery will be extended to other people uprooted from there, because of the persecution of the Stalinist period. He mentioned in particular Armenians, Germans and Greeks, whose communities continue to exist and flourish in the historical peninsula.
"First my ex-wife must be married"
Asked about his plans on his personal life and "when will we see the next first lady" he replied with humor stating that he must first fix a marriage for his ex-wife and then think about himself, making it clear that he doesn't plan to become a lifetime appointment as president in Kremlin. His long communication with the Russian people was ended with a patriotic note: "Of course we are less realistic, than other people, less calculative, but we have more open heart, greater soul and perhaps there reflects the greatness of our country and its vast expanses".