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Said And Done? Following Up On Putin’s Promises From 2015's 'Direct Line'

Russian President Vladimir Putin holds his annual televised question-and-answer session in Moscow on April 16, 2015.
Russian President Vladimir Putin holds his annual televised question-and-answer session in Moscow on April 16, 2015.

The traditional Direct Line with Russian President Vladimir Putin, where he answers preselected questions from Russian citizens on live television, will take place for the 14th time on April 14.

RFE/RL’s Current Time looked at the promises that Putin made last year to find out if he followed through on them.

Provide new homes for fire victims in Khakassia

Last spring, fires swept through Siberia, leaving hundreds of families homeless. During the Direct Line, Putin ordered the governors of affected oblasts to restore and build new homes for the victims by September 1.

The government kept its promise, but the new houses turned out to be all but uninhabitable. There was mold in the apartments and water pipes froze constantly. Many had to spend their money to refurnish and repair the provided housing.

The general contractor of the construction company responsible for the project was accused of embezzling funds allocated for the fire victims.

Pay wages to construction workers building the Vostok Cosmodrome

Construction workers at the Vostok Cosmodrome hadn’t been paid in four months by the time of last year’s Direct Line. Putin promised, after they sent a dramatic video asking for his help, that their wages would be paid in full.

According to the Russian Prosecutor-General’s Office, all liabilities -- 704 million rubles ($11.4 million) -- were paid in full by October 21, 2015. The CEO of one of the construction companies was fined 23 million rubles ($371.000).

Due to alleged massive corruption, construction of the cosmodrome slowed down and the first launch was postponed for at least six months.

Then, on the eve of this year's call-in show, authorities in Ussuriysk detained a construction at the Vostok Cosmodrome who pledged recently to hold a protest in conjunction with the event, according to Novaya Gazeta.

Anton Tyurishev was ordered into five days of custody after turning up for questioning on April 13, according to one of Tyurishev's friends. "...[T]hey issued a report, claiming that he used foul language in a public place, and they took him to court. Anton told me they rewrote the report four times," the friend, Dmitry Karpan, said.

Rename a Moscow street after Vysotsky

Aleksey Venediktov, the editor in chief of Ekho Moskvy radio, asked Putin to commemorate Vladimir Vysotsky, a famous Russian actor and singer-songwriter, by renaming a Moscow street in his honor.

Putin supported the idea.

By the middle of the summer, Moscow authorities renamed a blind alley behind Tagansky theater, where Vysotsky played, in his honor.

Provide free medical ventilators at home

At last year’s event, Nyuta Federmesser, the head of the Vera charitable fund, said that patients dependent on medical ventilators couldn’t receive free medical help at home -- only in intensive-care units in hospitals.

"It’s the first time I’ve heard about this problem," Putin said. He promised that the Health Ministry would resolve the issue by mid-July 2015.

It didn’t.

At the end of May, the Health Ministry issued an order designated to change the situation, but to date it has not worked out a program to fund the purchase of additional ventilators, how to deliver them to patients in need, or how to train parents to use the devices, according to Federmesser.

About This Blog

Using regional media and the reporting of Current Time TV's wide network of correspondents, Anna Shamanska will tell stories about people and society you are unlikely to read anywhere else.

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