A Direct Line to …

April 14, 2016

No, not to God but President Putin who today gave his annual Direct Line, talking with a very select band of citizens (easier to control …). Of course, they listened attentively. Social media, however, was not so respectful. We listened in …


Even before the off, there was pessimism:

10.28 @titlenka: Putin has nothing good to tell us

12.35 A man from a pharma company asks about prices.

Putin replies that medicines have gone up in price because raw materials are more expensive.

The man asks for the price ceiling to be removed i.e. tries to tell Putin that there is a joke called the market and it ought to work.

Putin gives no substantive answer, and the presenter quickly moves to ask what medicines Putin takes. He says he doesn’t know what tablets he’s given.

Question: “Why are the only medicines on the shelves in the chemist’s, expensive and imported?”

Putin: “I don’t think that the only medicines on the shelves in the chemist’s are expensive and imported.”

Thank you, Vladimir Vladimirovich.

12.47 Putin says that it was very difficult to find the company to build the bridge to the Crimea. He’s talking about Stroigasmontazh belonging to his friend Arkady Rotenberg.

12.52 A student from the Federal Crimean University says that it’s okay without electricity because “our children now play less with gadgets and have started reading books.” But she still asks about the energy bridge [that will connect Crimea with the Russian grid].

Vladimir Vladimirovich, about offshore, tell us, who are your friends, and I’ll tell you who you are?

12.58 [having been upbraided for not doing their job properly] officials from Omsk ring through to say that by the end of the year they will have repaired 21 roads.

13.01 A caller from St Petersburg asks about Lyudmila Putin’s recent re-marriage and when Putin will re-marry.

Putin says that relations with his ex-wife are good, but won’t say anything about his own plans.

13.05 Questions about drugs in sport, Russian pride in its athletes, then one about meldonium [the drug Maria Sharapova carried on taking after the ban].

Putin, having said that he doesn’t even look at the tablets he takes, with absolute authority says that the drug has no effect whatsoever on an athlete’s performance. Talks about working with international sports authorities, using his favourite word of the day “partners.” Indeed, today, everybody is described as a partner – Americans, Chechens, Armenians, Azerbaijanis, even the Turks [well, the Turkish people …].

11.07 @polinaem: The orange foundation make-up which Putin uses is just like the one I had when I was in 8th grade

13.15 Putin talks about major refurbishment works in the public housing sector, reminding people that families spending more than 22% of their income on their housing can ask for compensation from the state.

11.17 @Vdegunino: The president is clearly not at home with public housing.

11.18 @Fame­­­_MIDRF: The whole Direct Line can be summed up in one sentence “I’m happy with my life, everything is OK for me.” (Vladimir Putin)

13.26 What would your three wishes be if you caught the golden fish? [a reference to a famous Russian fairytale].

Putin: “Better not to put one’s trust in fairytale characters. If we expect miracles, we could end up no better off than we were before.”

13.34 A video link with a fish factory on Sakhalin where they are working with Chinese fish because we don’t have enough of our own.

Putin suggests that one of the local officials should be checked out to see if he is doing his job properly.

13.41 Putin is asked why he doesn’t sue, after the publications about offshore deals in the media.

Putin: “Perhaps we don’t have good enough prosecutors. I thought that question had been dealt with. This is no unreliable information – indeed, it’s very reliable and obviously prepared by lawyers. But they are intentionally confusing. Do I have friends who are businessmen? I do. But Sergei Pavlovich Roldugin bought a unique cello, which cost about $12 million second-hand. It even has a name – Stuart [made by Stradivarius]. It is very old – it has been in use since 1732. In fact, he spent more of his money than he actually had, so we owe him. And another thing that’s very interesting, it’s where this information is coming from. We know that members of the American intelligence community are involved. The German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung [the newspaper, which released the Panama Papers] is owned by a holding company, and that holding is owned by the American financial company Goldman Sachs. The closer we get to the elections the more such attacks we will see.”

I'm so proud of my president
I’m so proud of my president

@polinaem: I’m so proud of my president. How long is this going on for?

12.06 @KsZhivag:o In Petrozavodsk we had various parties. VARIOUS – not just United Russia.

12.05 @polinaem: In Irkutsk the United Russia representative lost. So we executed him by quartering.

12.05 @EchoMskRu: Vladimir Putin: United Russia is important but it does not get any preferential treatment.

14.10 A question about the methods used by Kadyrov [head of Chechnya], in particular the image posted on Instagram of Kasyanov [an opposition politician] in a sniper’s sights.

Putin: “You have to remember how he started. He fought alongside us in the forest. So those are his methods of communicating with political opponents.”

12.28 @Grauaerman: Putin says that palm oil makes us stronger.

14.16 A farmer from the Voronezh Region asks that the sanctions should not be lifted, because free market competition spells death for Russian producers. We have had to take out expensive loans, which have to be paid off somehow, which is why prices are high. Western produce will be cheaper.

Putin says he doesn’t think sanctions will be lifted any time soon.

14.24 Konstantin Khabensky tells the president about the unwritten ban on relatives visiting people in intensive care. “In actual fact everything is exactly the same as it was before you gave the order.” Talks about the individual breathing apparatus, which Putin ordered should be bought.

Putin: “Well, previously hospitals didn’t have them. At least they’ve got some now.”

12.33 @polinaem: Putin: “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” I see that your intentions are good.

12.30 @otsebyatin: You know what? The director of the fish factory on Shikotan is going to be charged, the roads in Omsk are going to be repaired. The Sakhalin prosecutor is probably already in Japan.

14:42 If Poroshenko and Erdogan were drowning, who would you save?

Putin: “If someone wants to drown, you can’t save them.”

14.46 Putin said earlier on that Roldugin had bought a “Stuart” cello for 12 million dollars. We [Open Russia] checked the accuracy of this statement: actually, the cello has belonged to Steven Honigberg since 1979.

12.48 @KsZhivago: Putin and the audience:

—        it’s nothing

—        what are you thanking me for?

—        it’s too early to say thank you

—        it’s not me you have to thank

15.00 Putin is asked about the reasons for the creation of the National Guard.

Putin: “Firstly and most importantly, to put the circulation of weapons in Russia under special control. This structure will gather together everything to do with firearms.”

A Russian visual joke on social media, playing on the phrase for “direct line” and how people see the president’s personality
A Russian visual joke on social media, playing on the phrase for “direct line” and how people see the president’s personality

1.24 @Yana-Skvo: When did the creation of a new budget structure ever reduce costs? Does he actually listen to what he’s saying?

15.10 The unfortunate staff member of Uralavtopritsepa in Chelyabinsk, who complained to Putin at the start of the Direct Line that salaries had not been paid for 3 months, has been summoned for questioning at the factory’s security department.

This morning, the construction worker from the Vostochnyi cosmodrome who last year told Putin about delayed salary payments, was arrested.

1.30 @navalny: “Dad said that only Putin can deal with America.” It’s 1983 again – I’m in the first year at school and we are having a political information class.

1.40 @ponny1: Well! Answering a question from Alina, Putin quoted what I had written. He reads me!

1.49 @TarasovSergeyM  [singer, poet, composer]: Yuri Loza said that Vladimir Putin doesn’t even know how to answer questions.

15.41 Putin finishes, after 3 hours 41 minutes.

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