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During the programme, the president answered more than 85 questions from Russians on the most pressing social and political issues that affected them.
Domestic, social and economic issues dominated the Direct Line with the president – the problems of corruption, utility hikes, social pensions, maternity capital, agriculture subsidies, as well as educational issues, migration, opposition and even Russian roads.
Speaking of the achievements and accomplishments of Putin’s presidency almost a year after he took office, he said he had deliberately set high targets.
“I can confess that I deliberately set the bar too high, knowing that the results expected of the executive authorities, not only the federal ones but also the regional ones, were unrealisable. Because if we do not work intensively, results will be much more modest,” he said.
“What has been done, what has not been done, and am I satisfied? Overall I am and I believe that work is proceeding satisfactorily,” Putin said.
He drew attention to the growth of the citizens’ income as one of the most important achievements.
“In general, wages are going up – that is an obvious fact,” Putin commented on the still low salaries of budgetary workers.
Russia’s economy is experiencing a curious tendency – income is growing faster than labour productivity.
This raises concerns among economists, “but for Russia social needs of the people are a priority,” said the president.
“The fundamentals of our economic policy will remain unchanged. We will continue to focus primarily on macroeconomic indicators and encourage industries to meet social needs of the people,” Putin said.
Speaking of the country’s economy President Putin pointed out that Russia is closely integrated into the global economy.
“There is nothing unusual nor unexpected here. We all knew that the downturn we are observing in the global economy, especially in the Eurozone, has quite a serious impact on us, because Europe is our main trading partner.
“More than 50 per cent of our trade is with Europe. But if there is a severe recession there, a slump, every year over several years then this can’t but affect us. In the end, it affected us directly,” Putin explained.
However, Putin admitted that blame for Russia’s economic slowdown can not be pinned on external factors alone.
“First, the continuing global economic crisis, including in the Eurozone, affects us too. The second factor is man-made: too tight monetary policy within the Russian Federation itself,” Putin said.
Russia’s former finance minister Alexei Kudrin has said that shifting away from oil dependency should be the priority for the Russian government.
“It should try to free our economy from oil dependence, from dependence on export of natural resources and its impact on all aspects of our lives.
“I do not believe there has been such a turnaround in our economy. Some measures are taken, but these factors remain much present in our economy,” Kudrin said.
Commenting on international terrorism, many journalists and citizens highlighted the anti-Russian sentiment after the Boston Marathon bombings, as the terrorists turned out to be of Chechen origins.
“Russia is itself a victim of international terrorism,” Putin said.
He reinforced his commitment to joint global counter-terrorism actions and stressed the need for urgent actions, not words.
“I want this tragedy to encourage us to work together on eliminating this most dangerous threat. If we join our efforts, we will not miss such attacks and will not suffer such losses,” Putin urged.