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Putin Says Sanctions On Russia Nothing To Do With Ukraine
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Putin Says Sanctions On Russia Nothing To Do With Ukraine

Live Blog: Putin Holding Televised Q&A

Russian President Vladimir Putin is hosting his annual question-and-answer show with the nation.

Final Summary

-- In his annual question-and-answer session with the public, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Western sanctions are aimed at restraining Russia, asserting that Moscow's role in the crisis and conflict in Ukraine are only a pretext for the punitive measures imposed by the European Union, United States, and other nations.​

-- He said that "the Russian army is not in Ukraine," repeating Moscow's denial that it has sent troops to aid pro-Russian rebels.

-- Putin highlighted the recent rise of Russia's ruble currency, which has gained more than 20 percent in 2015 after a steep decline last year. He also touted high oil production figures and a good harvest. He said Russians are living longer and death rates decreasing.

-- Putin linked his decision to lift a ban on supplying Iran with surface-to-air S-300 missiles with what he said was Tehran's demonstrated desire to resolve a yearslong dispute over its nuclear program, which Western nations fear is aimed at developing nuclear weapons.

-- Putin took on comparisons that suggest parallels between the reigns of Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin, saying that "Nazism and Stalinism cannot be put on the same desk...because the Nazis directly, openly, and publicly announced as one of their goals the annihilation of concrete ethnic groups -- Jews, Gypsies, Slavs."

-- He described the killing of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov as "tragic and shameful" and praised investigators for identifying and arresting five suspects days after Nemstov was gunned down steps from the Kremlin on February 27.

-- Putin said his country will never be a "vassal" of the United States. He said there are "superpowers" that "consider themselves the only center of power in the world."

At the last Q & A, exactly one year ago, Edward Snowden asked Putin about Russian spying. (Putin didn't really answer)

Snowden was criticized at the time by Russian investigative journalist Andrei Soldatov. The Russian intelligence services expert has more recently been critical of Snowden's refusal to speak with him directly.

Russian state TV is preparing for today's Q and A with an "epic" trailer.

Best part here.

Beginning. The host starts by saying that despite everything, the "Index of happiness" in Russia has increased.

Putin begins by giving list of successes and failures:

Positives: stock exchange growing; inflation has steadied; economy growing; manufacturing up; oil production at record high; big harvest

-Problems: Direct investment down, but housing construction really good -- there's a record amount in fact. Even the Soviet Union couldn't match these figures. "These are stunning figures."

-Unemployment up, but growth of it limited.

-Inflation 11.4, but in March it went down three-fold.

Putin on sanctions:

I did say "it's highly unlikely that sanctions will be lifted anytime soon." Our partners "want to restrain our growth," but it has nothing to do with the conflict in Ukraine. We've done everything to implement Minsk agreement.

The host had said, he presented a "rosy picture" of the economic situation in Russia. Putin didn't really like the question.

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