Answers to journalists’ questions following Direct Line 2018-06-07 16:45:00 Moscow After the Direct Line with Vladimir Putin, the President took questions from journalists. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon. Question: Mr President, which questions did you expect to hear, which were not asked? Perhaps, you would like to hear them. Vladimir Putin: You know, the questions started pouring in several days prior to the event and, on the whole, I have said this many times and will repeat it, the amount of data accumulates, so, generally it becomes clear a few days before what worries people. Of course, the wording may differ, but the topics that worry people are already clear and understood. I will be frank: certainly, before coming here today, I met with my colleagues, heads of various departments at the Presidential Executive Office and members of the Government. Yesterday and last night, we exchanged opinions and looked at how things were proceeding and where. This was how we prepared. Today, we heard pretty much everything we expected. Question: Awhile back, there was an outcry around an incident involving State Duma deputy and Head of the Committee on International Affairs Leonid Slutsky. Vladimir Putin: What was this about? Question: Several female reporters accused him of sexually harassing them, on their own behalf, publicly, not anonymously. There was an outcry in the media and later the case was dealt with by the Duma Commission on Ethics, and, judging by the transcript, which leaked out to the media, the commission actually did not even try to get to the bottom of the matter. One of the women had an audio recording, from which it clearly follows that he indeed harassed her. However, it was decided that there was no ethical violation in his conduct. The matter just died down. Silence. Are you aware of this story? Or you are not, as far as I can see. Vladimir Putin: No. Remark: Then what is your opinion about this? Vladimir Putin: A) I have heard nothing about this, and b) I certainly have an opinion on it. We see that certain people or certain organisations who specialise in protecting women's rights, are initiating major proceedings in some Western countries, in Hollywood, and bringing up incidents that are, as they acknowledge, 10, 20 or 30 years old. You know, I believe that it is necessary to protect the rights of everyone, regardless of gender, age or religious beliefs. But the question is, why is it happening now? Why not ten years ago when the incident took place? This is my first point. Second, I do not think that we need to make campaigns out of all these issues, certain ones in particular. And third, any civilised country has their own legal procedures for reviewing such conflicts. There are courts and law enforcement agencies, so I think they should deal with these issues. Question: A very serious question, Mr President. What kind of granddad are you? Do you have a grandson or a granddaughter? Are you a dutiful grandfather? Vladimir Putin: I have to confess, I do not have enough time. But it is complicated: if there is not enough time, that means I did not organise my time well, I understand that. But I would like to see my grandkids more, it is true. Question: Is he getting big? Vladimir Putin: Everybody does. Question: Do you bring new toys? Vladimir Putin: Everyone is healthy and all is well. Question: Do you at least give them toys? Vladimir Putin: Yes, I do. Question: Good afternoon, Mr President. As we know, On May 25, Rosneft and Iraqi Kurdistan signed a gas development agreement. On May 9, the Prime Minister of Iraqi Kurdistan paid a visit to the Kremlin. How do you see future relations between Russia and Iraqi Kurdistan? In which areas and projects do you see a potential for growth? Thank you. Vladimir Putin: Historically speaking, we have always had very good relations with the people of Kurdistan. We appreciate their talent and aspiration to exercise their natural rights. We see and understand what is happening in Iraq, and we know about the decisions taken at the referendum. We see that these decisions are being implemented in Iraqi Kurdistan and that this is being done within the framework of the integral Iraqi state. We maintain contact with the authorities in Bagdad. We believe that all our plans regarding Iraq, including the region called Iraqi Kurdistan, are legal and promising, and that they are not aimed at interfering in conflicts or inciting any conflicts in Iraq. On the contrary, all our projects are aimed at promoting cooperation with Iraq, including Iraqi Kurdistan. These are promising, interesting and far-reaching projects. I hope they will be implemented. Question: Good afternoon, Mr President. What is your attitude to the faked death of journalist Arkady Babchenko and the list of 47 Ukrainians whom Russia allegedly wants to take out? Vladimir Putin: I know nothing about this list. I only learned about it from the media, probably just like yourself. Any fake is counterproductive, whatever the reason for it, but especially if it attracts international attention. You know how your colleagues from international journalistic organisations have reacted to this. All of them have denounced this action by the Ukrainian authorities as a provocation. I hope nothing like this will happen again. At the same time, all of us must think about how to ensure the safety of journalists and their work, protecting them from any pressure and guaranteeing journalists’ unconditional right to practice their trade, as well as the right of the public to have free access to information and to share information.