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Live Blog: Putin's Call-In Show


A Russian woman plays with her baby while watching the televised call-in show with President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.

Highlights

-- After 3 hours and 40 minutes, it's over.

-- Economic questions dominated the early portion of Russian President Vladimir Putin's annual televised question-and-answer session, followed by queries about Russia's foreign relations with countries such as Turkey, Ukraine, and Syria.

-- One of the first questions put to Putin concerned rising prices for groceries and other necessities. Putin said that he understands that people are being hurt by inflation.

-- Putin was asked -- reportedly by a 12-year-old girl -- who he would save from drowning first: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan or Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, the leaders of two countries with which Russia currently has badly strained relations.

15:07 14.4.2016

“Russia is interested in solving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” Putin says.

Russia will help, but the final solution will depend on the people of Armenia and Azerbaijan, he adds.

15:05 14.4.2016

The Power Vertical Weighs In:

OK, we're three hours in. Leaving aside the optics, it's a good time to step back and look at what Putin has said so far about policy and what it might mean. Here are my takeaways:

1) Putin seemed to suggest that former Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin might play a bigger role on a panel of economic experts that advises the Kremlin. Does this signal a change in economic policy as Reuters suggests. I'm skeptical. The changes Kudrin advocates would mean a wholesale change in Russia's political system -- and that's not happening.

2) Putin said he expects Western sanctions to remain in place and therefore Russia's countersanctions will also remain in place. He also said he wants to cooperate with the United States as long as Washington treats him as an equal. And he called on the West to use its influence to convince Ukraine to implement the political aspects of the Minsk agreement like constitutional reform (ignoring that it is Russia and its proxies that is violating the cease-fire on the battlefield). Putin apparently hasn't given up on a rapprochement with the West on his terms -- but isn't optimistic that he'll get one.

3) Putin's comments about the United States, the West, and Turkey were tempered. He seems to be intentionally avoiding the inflammatory rhetoric he has used in the past.

One hour to go!

-- Brian Whitmore, The Power Vertical

15:00 14.4.2016
14:59 14.4.2016

Vladimir Putin has been answering questions for three hours now.

14:59 14.4.2016

“The crisis that began in Ukraine due to the European Union Association Agreement was man-made. It seems to me it was a tool to change the government,” Putin says.

He claims Ukraine hasn’t gained anything from its cooperation with the EU and turning away from Russia.

14:55 14.4.2016

Putin is asked what he thinks about the new Ukrainian government.

“Nothing, I don’t know it well enough,” he says. The last government, he adds, had nine goals and reached only two.

14:54 14.4.2016

Question: What is next for Donbas?

Putin says that people living in eastern Ukraine must feel safe and know they have rights. First and foremost, to change Ukraine’s constitution in accordance with the Minsk agreement. “We can’t change the constitution for them,” he says.

14:49 14.4.2016

While answering questions from the studio, Vladimir Putin has been jotting down questions shown on the screen. He has volunteered to answer three of them, interrupting the anchors.

14:32 14.4.2016
14:30 14.4.2016

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