Russian President Vladimir Putin is set for his annual Q&A call-in session where he will field questions from Russian citizens on a range of topics, from the national economy to Kiev.
More than two million questions have poured in for the session, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the media. "This year there are significantly more questions about foreign policy: the possibility of a confrontation with Nato, Western countries, the foreign affairs situation overall, Ukraine, the CIS, the Customs Union," Peskov told Interfax.
The phone-in session often runs for hours, and in the past, the questions have often been cheeky, such as if Russia will get a new First Lady or if Putin plans to annex Alaska.
- On ISIS: "There is no direct threat to us from ISIS. But Russians are fighting there and can come back to the country. We are taking necessary steps. We may not know all their names, but we know the number. Our security agencies are working very well on this issue."
- Russia has no enemies, says Putin.
Interesting. Putin says Russia has no enemies. But military funding is the government's untouchable priority.
— Matthew Bodner (@mattb0401) April 16, 2015
- Putin calls Nemtsov murder "absolutely shameful", said the two shared "friendly relations.
#Putin calls Nemtsov murder "tragic and shameful" "[Nemtsov] was sharply critical of government, and me - but we had friendly relations"
— Courtney Weaver (@courtneymoscow) April 16, 2015
The President was asked a question by Nemtsov's aide about who was the mastermind behind the Opposition politician's murder.
"Did someone order the Nemtsov murder? I don't know." Putin pretending naiveté
— Alec Luhn (@ASLuhn) April 16, 2015
- UKRAINE: "I consider Russians and Ukrainians to be one people," says Putin when asked if Russia will continue to discount gas supplies to Ukraine.
- Some funny questions -
Woman asks Putin to order friend's husband, a former colonel, to allow her to get a dog for her birthday pic.twitter.com/nfMCvdXLoN
— Alec Luhn (@ASLuhn) April 16, 2015
- Some controversial questions -
Slew of questions on quality of people in government. Reads one: "When are you going to put professional bankers in central bank?" — Courtney Weaver (@courtneymoscow) April 16, 2015
- The session has moved towards foreign policy - IRANQ:Our economy depends on the international environment. This week, we saw hundreds of comments on the statement that there is no objection to supplying S-300 missile systems to Iran. The concern is that the delivery will interfere with Iran nuclear talks, and will complicate situation in Middle East...
A: In 2010, the contract with Iran was suspended over its nuclear activity. But today, we have clear signs that Iranian counterparts are demonstrating flexibility. The nuclear deal has been reached, and that's why we have taken the decision to begin supplying the missiles to them. It is better to encourage our Iranian counterparts. The US supplies the highest military equipment to this part of the world.
- Q: I have been working on a milk farm for the past 15 years but have never made any profit. I want to be confident there is a future for my children in Russia. My son who works in the UK says he does not want to come and work in a farm -- A milk farmer asks an in-house question.
A: At the moment milk production is low in Russia compared to other countries. I hope the government will do enough, but there are limitations of the budget.
- Q: We have too many state support programs, but we small farmers do not get anything. Lifting embargo will hurt us. -- Call-in from farmers
A: The government has brought out several support measures. We have increased subsidies for loans taken by agricultural manufacturers.
- Q: Can Russia get a new development model? -- Former finance minister Alexei Kudrin
A: We need to improve out monetary policy, our law enforcement and judicial systems. We can end up in a situation like in the early 90s where the government had lost trust of the people.
Putin cites US economic problems, to illustrate how 'public debt is higher than national GDP".
- On Ukraine: "We are doing everything we can to implement the Minsk agreement on Ukraine."
- The session has begun. Putin is currently taking questions on Russia's economy.
"GDP has grown by 0.6%, industrial manufacturing by 1.7% and agriculture by 3.7%," he said.
— Дмитрий Смирнов (@dimsmirnov175) April 16, 2015
Watch the call-in session with Putin LIVE below: