Putin media address
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during his annual end-of-year news conference in Moscow, Russia, December 17, 2015.Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke strongly against Turkey and also about the United States' role in Syria and its crackdown on FIFA corruption, while reassuring citizens that the worst of the economic crisis was behind them, during the 11th annual Q&A session with the media on Thursday. 

Putin said he did not see any prospects of repairing ties with Turkey after its fighter jet was downed last month. He also used crude phrases about the Turkish leadership, suggesting that they were cosying up to the United States. 

Putin also had some harsh words for the United States, stating that it had no right to extend legislation to other countries in connection with the FIFA corruption scandal. While praising the work of former FIFA President Sepp Blatter, Putin also said that he deserved to be given the Nobel Peace Prize. 

He, however, said that Russia will build ties with Washington whoever wins the US presidential election in 2016.

The Russian President also said that the country's military operations in Syria would continue till there is a transition to a political process. 

Asked by a journalist if the Russian economy would come out of the economic crisis by the end of next year as the Russian President had predicted earlier, the latter said that the country's economy had already passed the peak of the crisis. 

The press session was held at Moscow's World Trade Center with a record-breaking 1,390 journalists present. 

Earlier this year, Putin was grilled on the Boris Nemstov murder and the Ukraine conflict during his annual Q&A call-in session with Russian citizens in April. 

You can check all of Putin's answers from the Q&A below:

17:42 IST: The Q&A session has concluded. It lasted for a little more than three hours. 

17:33 IST: A journalist brings up the murder of Putin-critic Boris Nemtsov. 

Putin:

I knew Boris Nemtsov personally. At one point we had good relations. He, however, chose to make attacks on me, but doesn't mean he should be killed. The crime should be investigated and the perpetrators should be brought to justice.  

17:31 IST: The Q&A is expected to be wrapped up soon. 

17:18 IST: A question whether the anti-Isis coalitions are anti-Isis.

Putin:

The US and Saudi Arabia may have had internal differences, which is why the latter formed a separate coalition against the Islamic State, despite being part of a US-led alliance. 

But these alliances are not anti-Russia. We have spoken with Saudi Arabia on the Syria situation. 

We may have differences, but there are also points of convergences on several issues. 

16:46 IST: A question on Putin's daughters and whether one of them runs an organisation at the Moscow State University. 

Putin:

I never discuss questions about my family. They are not in politics.

My daughters studied in Russia. They speak three languages fluently. I will not reveal where they work, for security reasons. 

16:24 IST: The next question is on US action on FIFA and the doping scandal in Russia.

Putin: 


The US justice department's actions in FIFA scandal were "unacceptable." We received our right to hold the World Cup in a completely honest competition.

Blatter is a very respected person. He has done a lot for the growth of football. He deserves the Nobel peace prize!

Let us wait till the investigation is over. 

On doping: I call upon all officials to be transparent with international officials and not hide anything. If anyone is doping, he or she should be punished.

16:03 IST: "What can we expect from Moscow to elevate relations between Russia and Georgia?" 

Putin:

We are willing to reestablish our relations with the country. We have to work together. We are contemplating to waive visas for Georgia.

Georgia's former leadership and then President Saakashvili should not have taken such adventurist decisions that led to Georgia's territorial break-up. It is their blame. This blame is historic and they should carry it in full.

15:44 IST: Ninth question - "We have a dangerous second generation of elites. We see young people doing murky business. Did you expect this to happen?"

Putin:

It is good that you drew our attention to these facts. As per children of high-ranking officials are concerned, we must understand if they have violated the law or not (mentioning an incident).  

It does not mean we are not dealing with the matter. All the data appearing on the Internet should also be analysed. 

15:41 IST: Eight question - "In 2014, there was tragedy in Tula. A newborn was burnt in a fire. Could you put under your personal purview the treatment of the boy?"

Putin:

It was a terrible tragedy. However much money you receive, there will always be people who will be irresponsible in doing their duties. I will keep it under my purview. Many people are competing to adopt the boy. 

15:38 IST: Seventh question - "Will Russia have enough resources for the military operations in Syria?"

Putin: 

We have not started a war. It does not create a very serious burden on our budget. The par of the finances for training forces and military exercises is being used for the operations in Syria. 

We had to add some, but it was not a serious burden. We have large scale military exercises, and thousands of people are involved. 

15:25 IST: Sixth question - Are there Russian troops in Donbass, Ukraine? The Minsk agreements are about to expire, but neither sides are implementing them? 

Putin:

We never said there were not Russians there who carried out certain tasks including in the military sphere. But this is different from the regular Russian army. 

On 1 January, unfortunately for us, we see that our economic relations with Ukraine will deteriorate as we will not work with them as a member of a free trade area. 

The EU has asked me not to expel Ukraine from the free trade area. 

We have tried to preserve our relations with Ukraine. But Ukraine is pulling out of the region and joining the European group. 

They are throwing away our goods from the market. 

We are not interested in the deterioration of the Ukraine conflict. But we expect an open dialogue. 

15: 20 IST: Fifth question - "What will be the final point of our military operation in the Syrian airspace?"

Putin:

Isis has managed to reach the US. They recognised that that the (San Bernardino) attack was a terrorist one.

The sooner we settle the conflict, the better. There is no way to solve the issue except the political one. 

All opposing sides should move forward. 

When we see that the Syrian leadership believes that the time has come to start negotiating instead of shooting, we will comply. We are not going to be more Syrian than the Syrians.

 

15: 02 IST: Fourth question by Turkish agencies (several questions by journalists have been clubbed) -

Are we going to sever ties to the Turk world? What about Turkish investors who invested heavily? Many Turkish students and businessmen are being deported.

Did you discuss the question of the fate of the Syrian president with John Kerry?

Is Isis the problem or is there a hidden agenda?

Putin: 

On Turkey: We believe that the actions of Turkish authority on our aircraft was a hostile act. People were killed. What was particularly outrageous was that had it been an accident , as Turkish authority have said, they should have immediately contacted and presented their apology. But they went to NATO and started covering it up. 

I do not see any prospects to recover relations with the Turkish leadership at the highest level.

Russia will not run away. We increased our presence in Syria. We have deployed S-400 systems there. We are putting in combat positions air defence systems. 

Turkey will now not be able to violate Syrian airbase. 

On Isis: My own assessments is that Isis is a secondary thing. After Iraq was invaded, a vacuum emerged. Elements popped up in oil trading and the whole system of smuggling was established there. 

It is very easy to use Islamic slogans, but Isis is playing the game of protecting economic interests. 

We started attacking oil convoys, and they are now scared and moving only in the night time. Most supplies are now going through Iraq. 

Russia supports the US draft resolution on cutting Isis finances.

On Syria: We will never agree to external forces imposing on any country.

We discussed the issue with US Secretary John Kerry. It is up to the Syrian people to decide who should govern them.

A mechanism should be set up for future elections on democratic procedures. 

 

14:59 IST:  Third question by TASS agency: "Are you satisfied by the actions of the government in the crisis situation? Will there be reshuffling in the government?"

Putin: 


No serious reshuffling is being considered. The government is moving in the right direction and working efficiently. 

 

14:54 IST: Second question from RIA Novosti: "You said the peak of the crisis is behind us. Other allies are calling for reforms. Do you think we need a lower key rate?

Putin:


Everyone wants the key rate to be lowered. I support the policy of the central bank with regard to the macro-economic stability. The lowering of the key rate has to be based on the reality of the economy.

Abroad, key rates are lower, but they are doing it on purpose. They are afraid of deflation, but we are trying to curb inflation. 

The central bank has to ensure the viability of the financial sector. 

14:39 IST: The first question is in - "Has your mood about the economy changed and what are your forecasts?"

The journalist grills Putin about his words on Russia's economy last year, when he said Russia will need two years to recover.

Putin answers: 

We had to recalculate last year and at the end of this year, we had to recalculate our forecast again, because the price of oil has fallen two folds. We have calculated our budget on the current figure. This is a very optimistic assessment to date - $50 a barrel.

All our parameters have shifted. The GDP has fallen by 3%, the inflation was 12.3%. The real income of the population has decreased. But at the same time, statistics show that the Russian economy has passed the peak of the crisis.

Despite the difficult situation, the energy complex is developing. Sea port infrastructure has also grown. We continue to develop our airport systems.

There is an increase in Russian population which points to the mood of the people who are planing families.

The government is preparing scenarios for all kinds of development. We have some potential for GDP growth. 

14:36 IST: Putin begins his media address. 

13: 58 IST: Some of Putin's annual media sessions have gone on for hours. Last year, the Q&A lasted for 3 hours and 10 minutes, while the longest session was in 2008, when the President answered 106 questions over 4 hours and 40 minutes. 

13:50 IST: There's less than an hour to go before Putin begins the session. 

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