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Live Blog: Putin's Annual Call-In Show

Russian President Vladimir Putin fielded questions on June 7 from across the country in an annual call-in show that lasted for more than four hours, one of a handful of live performances he holds every year to burnish his image.


Elderly women watch a live broadcast of Russian President Vladimir Putin's annual question-and-answer session in the village of Yelna, Ivanovo region, on June 7.

Highlights

-- Russian President Vladimir Putin painted an upbeat picture of the country's economy and accused the West of seeking to thwart its progress, setting a familiar tone for his new term in a marathon call-in show broadcast live on state TV.

-- The Direct Line broadcast on June 7 came a month after Putin was sworn in to a new six-year term following a landslide election that foes said was marred by fraud and international observers said did not present voters with a genuine choice.

-- The event was closely choreographed, with Putin fielding selected questions from among more than a million submitted and sending signals about an array of domestic and foreign policy issues.

*NOTE: Times are stated according to local time in Moscow (GMT/UTC +3)

15:56 7.6.2018

15:55 7.6.2018

Putin says some food prices in Crimea are cheaper than in neighboring Krasnodar Krai and adds that after the bridge is fully operational, he hopes prices in Crimea will stabilize and be comparable to average prices across Russia.

15:54 7.6.2018

Next question is from the city of Kerch in the annexed Ukrainian region of Crimea. Moderator begins with an enthusiastic paean to the arcs of the Kerch Strait bridge in the background. Then a local resident in Kerch thanks Putin for the bridge, which he says has been a long-awaited dream of the city. Talks about how much more business the bridge has brought to the city and then complains about the high price of food and other goods in Crimea.

15:50 7.6.2018

Putin talks about what a huge country Russia is and then lists a bunch of road projects.

15:48 7.6.2018

Now we get a question from the new Kerch Strait bridge connecting Russia with the annexed Ukrainian region of Crimea. Cars whizzing by. Police officer says the volume of traffic grows day by day. Moderator then interviews a driver (just stopped by police) to talk about how happy he is that the bridge is open. Then asks if the driver wants to ask a question to Putin. The driver acts like he is surprised, but then begins a well-rehearsed question about the poor quality of roads in Russia. Asks what major projects are planned.

15:46 7.6.2018

Putin emphasizes that the acting governor of Sakha Republic is a local person (compared to many governors in Russia who were brought in from other regions and installed by Putin).

15:45 7.6.2018

Putin says the increases should not only be continued but should be increased. Throws the question over to the acting governor of the Sakha Republic who says "we'll get to the bottom of this matter."

15:43 7.6.2018

Moderator prompts Putin to stop reading SMS questions and they return to phone and video calls. Now summarizing questions about the salaries of state-sector workers from across the country. A school director from Yakutsk complains about his low salary and asks if recent increases were temporary or permanent.

15:41 7.6.2018

15:40 7.6.2018

Another SMS question asks if Putin plans to nationalize the oil industry. Putin says it might have been a mistake to privatize it, but notes that now it is already done and would be "complicated and dangerous" to renationalize it.

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