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Live Blog: Putin's 'Direct Line' To The Nation

President Vladimir Putin holds his annual televised question-and-answer session in Moscow, April 17, 2014.

President Vladimir Putin holds his annual televised question-and-answer session in Moscow, April 17, 2014.


Final Summary

-- The annual "Direct Line with Vladimir Putin," in which the Russian president takes choreographed call-in questions from around Russia, is over. It lasted just under four hours (3:58)

-- Putin admitted that the so-called green men in Crimea were indeed Russian soldiers, but said they were just there to protect the integrity of the referendum vote.

-- Putin said he "hopes" he does not have to invade eastern Ukraine, but says Russia would be within its right to do so. He says the upcoming election in Ukraine cannot be seen as legitimate. He also consistently referred to eastern Ukraine as natural Russian land that had become part of Ukraine through errors of history.

-- Edward Snowden asked, through a recorded video, whether Russia used mass surveillance. Putin said Russia's surveillance is done only through legal means. He spoke to Snowden, he said, "in one professional [spy] language."

*Note: Times are stated in terms of local time in Moscow.
15:56 17.4.2014
Ends after a relatively short 3 hours, 58 minutes.

Putin's final comments are response to this question: "What is a Russian?" A long standing ovation follows
15:50 17.4.2014
Q: Would Obama save you if you were drowning?
Putin: I don't have close personal relations with Obama, but I think he's a good and courageous person and for sure he would save me.
15:48 17.4.2014
Q: Would you agree to be president for the rest of your life.
Putin: No
15:46 17.4.2014
Putin: The U.S. is certainly one of the global leaders -- for a while it seemed like they were the only leader. Now we see it's not true.

Our relationship with the U.S. is not a sports event. We are partners and I still hope we have a future because in many areas our interests mesh.
15:43 17.4.2014
Komsomolskaya Pravda journalist gets heated in talking about Russian liberals:

They are "a heterogeneous mesh of liberal hamsters who are trying to take our national pride," he says.

Referring to separatist calls in eastern Ukraine to bring in troops, the questioner asks, "What alternative do we have if 2 million people are knocking on our door?"

He also says people should stop calling Russian soldiers green men.

Putin, playing the moderate, says, you're right we shouldn't say green men, but we also shouldn't say hamsters.
15:37 17.4.2014
15:37 17.4.2014
15:36 17.4.2014
Putin taking question from Nezavisimaya Gazeta.

Putin: I always listen to the positions of all my colleagues. Even if I disagree with them, I let all my colleagues speak up.

But we shouldn't sacrifice our interests just so that they'll like us.
15:32 17.4.2014
15:20 17.4.2014
Snowden backlash coming fast.

He has been criticized in the past for seeking asylum in a country known for clamping down on independendent media and serious human rights issues. This is not likely to help.

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