Question: Do you feel any kind of involvement in the Russian judokas’ victory?
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: I think the only time we ever had an Olympic gold medal in judo was in Moscow. We have never had any others.
Question: You are also a judo master. When you watch these matches, do you put yourself in the place of the competitor? Do you think about what you would do, what move you would make and so on?
Vladimir Putin: When people watch something they understand to some degree, naturally, they always analyse it from a critical standpoint. Whenever you attend competitions of this level, you are always watching truly skilled masters – both women, as we saw, and men. Some make mistakes, but all the athletes are worthy of respect and gratitude for what they are doing to develop sports.
Question: Did you know that Tagir Khaibulayev would win?
Vladimir Putin: No, of course not, how could I know that? Nobody knew it.
Question: How do you assess our national team’s overall performance?
Vladimir Putin: It’s still too early to say. So far, the Olympics – for our nation, in any case – has not reached its maximum, because our experts are expecting medals in many other sports where the matches are just beginning. We will see how they do.
Question: Are you satisfied with your talks with David Cameron?
Vladimir Putin: Yes. First of all, they were very sincere and held in a very good, positive atmosphere. Indeed, we talked about economic relations, as well as our political contacts.
There is no reason to hide that our turnover is only $21 billion, while Russia’s turnover with Germany is $72 billion. Clearly, the economic volume in Germany and the United Kingdom is different, but not to that extent. In the next several years, we could certainly reach a level of at least $50 billion.
We searched for new opportunities, new areas for cooperation. One of them is nuclear energy, where we can already develop work between Rosatom and Rolls-Royce in third countries and then consider cooperating in the UK market, because they have major plans here to develop nuclear energy.
There are other areas as well, not just energy. Space, for example – we are planning to launch several British satellites. We hope to get a positive response to our proposal on building a GLONASS station here, in the UK, to make the European signal even more accurate.
We have collaboration opportunities in the sphere of military technical cooperation, which is good both economically and for increasing political trust.
Question: What were you laughing about today, if I may ask? We heard some very loud laughter coming from you and Mr Cameron from behind closed doors at the end of the meeting.
Vladimir Putin: I can’t remember now, it was something good. In any case, again, the atmosphere was very positive and open. And naturally, we spoke at length about Syria.
Question: But I imagine you were not laughing about Syria.
Vladimir Putin: No, no, of course not. There is a tragedy happening there; it’s a cause for tears, not laugher.
Question: Today it was announced that [Joint Special Envoy of the UN and League of Arab States on Syria] Kofi Annan is leaving his post.
Vladimir Putin: That’s very unfortunate. Kofi Annan is a man of worth, an outstanding diplomat and a very decent man. So it’s really too bad. But I hope that the international community’s efforts to put an end to the violence there will continue.
Question: Did you and David Cameron discuss Kofi Annan’s departure and how things might go from now on?
Vladimir Putin: No, we did not.
Question: Mr Putin, with regard to BP and Rosneft: did the British side bring up this transaction?
Vladimir Putin: Yes. BP and Rosneft? No. We spoke about the conflict between TNK-BP shareholders. Prime Minister David Cameron spoke about that, but not Rosneft.
Question: And did you talk about Pussy Riot?
Vladimir Putin: No, we did not. I hope that the court will make the right, justified decision.
You know, there is nothing good about it. I do not really want to comment. But I think that if these young ladies went to, say, Israel and desecrated something there (many of you probably know that there are some very strong young men there), they would hardly be able to leave that easy. Or if they went to the Caucasus. You don’t have to look far for examples. If they went and desecrated some holy Muslim sanctuary – we wouldn’t even have had time to arrest them.
Nevertheless, I do not think that they should be judged overly harshly for it. I hope that they will draw their own conclusions. But ultimately, it is up to the court to make the final decision.
Question: This was a brief visit, but were you able to take anything from London’s experience that can be applied to Sochi?
Vladimir Putin: We need our experts, who have been working here from the very start, from the very first moments, to analyse all the good things and all shortcomings. And with an undertaking that large, it is impossible to have everything go off without a hitch; problems always come up. I saw all our sports organisers here. They will analyse the event and examine everything with their British colleagues.
Incidentally, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom said today that they are ready to share their experiences with us, so that we can take into account their achievements as well as certain weaker areas in order to avoid those hitches, or to have as few of them as possible.
Today I spoke with Chairman of Russia’s Central Bank Sergei Ignatiev. And we agreed that after the Olympic Games, we will issue honorary one-ruble coins bearing the names of Olympic champions and medallists. The names of those who won gold medals will appear on gold ruble coins, those who won silver medals will appear on silver ones, and bronze medal-winners will appear on bronze one-ruble coins.
Question: Will they be publicly circulated?
Vladimir Putin: Yes, they will.
Question: How many of them?
Vladimir Putin: That is something that the Central Bank must decide. I do not think there will be that many, but we have agreed that the Central Bank will issue these one-ruble coins.
Question: And how much will they cost?
Vladimir Putin: That will be determined by the market. I think that they will be valuable to coin collectors.
Question: And would this decision have been made if our judo masters had not won so many medals?
Vladimir Putin: I think so, yes. Here in the United Kingdom, they issue stamps, whereas we will issue coins – gold, silver and bronze.
Thank you very much.