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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)

12:05 7.6.2018

As Putin's Direct Line gets under way, expectations among some sarcastic Russians are high.

"Today Putin will walk on water, feed 140 million Russians with five loaves and two fishes and cure 10 cripples. Today is Direct Line."

12:10 7.6.2018

Moderators on Russian television are making a big deal about how many uses the Direct Line hashtags are getting on social media (more than 330,000!). Counting clicks seems to be a popular indicator in the Kremlin.

12:11 7.6.2018

Putin starts off by saying Russia is moving in the right direction: "solid economic growth," growing industrial and agricultural production, and historically low inflation.

12:12 7.6.2018

Some of the Russian television monitors seem to be paying their respects to the Ukrainian flag:

12:14 7.6.2018

Putin goes heavy on economics in his opening comments, adds that there are positive developments in boosting life-expectancy, wages. Concedes that not everyone is feeling positive effects of what he describes as an increasingly stable economy, but says that the statistics don't lie.

12:16 7.6.2018

Putin says much of the government was left in place in his new term, while bringing in some new qualified people, so as to avoid delays in development plans.

12:20 7.6.2018

Putin says "responsibility should be absolute" for members of the government who formulated his ambitious domestic plans for his fourth presidential term and are tasked with implementing them.

12:20 7.6.2018

Each year, Internet wags come up with BINGO cards for Putin's Direct Line, featuring terms that he uses predictably every year. This year, the rumor is that Putin will call local and federal officials to upbraid them on live television in response to complaints by their constituents. So this witty BINGO card appeared showing officials who are likely to spend some time in the hot seat:

12:20 7.6.2018

"There is a clear understanding what needs to be done, and how," Putin says of his domestic program, though he doesn't go into details.

12:21 7.6.2018

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