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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.

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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.
11:51 17.4.2014
Getting ready for the marathon.
11:55 17.4.2014
Pro-Kremlin media entrepreneur Konstantin Rykov says he submitted a question about the Arctic. If it does get addressed, expect it to be provocative. Putin will reportedly be submitting Arctic territorial claims to the UN by spring 2015.
12:01 17.4.2014
We're starting. Anchor says looking at a "new Russia," and warns of possibilities for "genocide" in Ukraine.
12:02 17.4.2014
12:03 17.4.2014
12:08 17.4.2014
First question: What would you say about events in e. Ukraine:

Putin: Let's look at what happened in Ukraine. When Yanukovych chose not to sign EU association document unrest followed -- some people liked that and others didn't.

In south and east of Ukraine, people saw rise of nationalism and threats towards "the indigenous population" of Russians in the East.

Oligarchs were sent there and people didn't trust the billionaires who made their money by exploiting the people.
12:08 17.4.2014
Putin: Kyiv's leaders go to the West instead of going to Donbas.
12:10 17.4.2014
Q: What's Russia's stance at Geneva?

P: Shouldn't be just a showcase. Should be a dialogue with the people.

Q: What about claims Russia stands behind uprising?

P: This is nonsense. There are no Russian units in the east of Ukraine. Those are all local residents. Best example is that people removed their masks.
12:12 17.4.2014
Putin: Threats against Crimea were real and that's why the people turned to Russia.

When the people of Crimea began saying they wanted self-determination, it was only then that we decided to support the residents.

Nobody from the Security Council objected. Everything was done quickly and decisively. There is nothing similar in global history.
12:14 17.4.2014
Putin says nothing planned in advance, despite surprising doubts of questioner.

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