Putin touched on many issues during the webcast, from Moscow's energy policy to Chechnya, Iran, and North Korea, as well as relations with the United States.
Putin said the United States remains a key country for Russia and he praised U.S. President George W. Bush as a political partner.
"Regardless of ratings at any particular time, the most important thing for a politician is to be a decent and honest person," Putin said. "And I think George Bush is a decent person. And he is a very convenient partner for me, with whom it is possible not only to talk, but also to find agreement."
Putin reiterated that Europe has "nothing to fear" when it comes to future deliveries of Russian oil and gas. He said Russia had supplied many of its neighbors with energy at below-market prices for 15 years and it was simply time to correct that situation.
Putin said he had no regrets about launching Moscow's second war against Chechen militants in the autumn of 1999, saying it had been "worth it."
He urged caution in dealing with both the North Korean and Iranian crises.
(compiled from agency reports)
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Floriana Fossato speaking at RFE/RL on March 22 (RFE/RL)
IS THE KREMLIN MOVING IN? On March 22, FLORIANA FOSSATO, a political analyst with University College London who specializes in Russian-media issues, gave a briefing at RFE/RL's Washington headquarters. Fossato noted that there are some 1,500 television companies in the Russia regions, approzimately half of them privately owned. She argued that the tone and detail of national events covered on local television often differs markedly from the way the same events are framed by the more directly controlled national television channels. She outlined Kremlin efforts, including the creation of a new state-owned national television channel for the regions and new advertising regulations, that could signal a concerted effort to make Russia's "information space" more uniform in the run-up to national elections in 2007 and 2008.
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