Question: What conclusions did you make after today’s discussion on the problems of refugee migration?
Vladimir Putin: This is a very acute problem in Russia. We can only regret that, as we must acknowledge, the state does not yet have a well-articulated and purposeful migration policy. I think it was important for department heads to hear the regional governors’ opinion. As we have agreed, at least the fundamentals of such a state policy will be urgently drafted and presented to the Government and the public.
I have to say that it was very hard to do so until quite recently because Russia was unique for not having a state border, or at least a partof its state border. That is why it was so hard to channel migrants to the regions that needed workers the most. But that has to be done. Now that Russia has withdrawn from the Bishkek agreements, we have such an opportunity. We must take advantage of this opportunity as best we can. That matters most.
Question: What is your opinion of the election situation in the United States? How will Russia arrange its relations with the new US Administration?
Vladimir Putin: The United States is among our principal partners in many fields. As I have said, we are acquainted in detail with the programmes of both candidates—George W. Bush and Albert Gore. Both the Democratic and the Republican candidate’s programmes present their view on developing contacts with Russia explicitly and precisely. Such an approach satisfies us. We respect the American people’s choice, and we will cooperate with any Administration. As for the final conclusions and for congratulating the winner, I think it is worthwhile to wait for the American officials to make their decision. As you know, Alexander Veshnyakov, Chairman of the Russian Central Election Commission, is now there. If need be, he will advise his American colleagues on what to do about it.