HIGHLIGHTS-Russia’s Putin: Annual Q&A session

MOSCOW, Dec 16 (BestGrowthStock) – Russian Prime Minister Vladimir
Putin gave an annual question and answer session on Thursday.

Following are highlights:

ON ECONOMIC RECOVERY
“Some say it will be the end of 2012, some say 2011, but I
think the truth is somewhere in between and in the first half of
2012 we should get back to the pre-crisis level (of gross
domestic product).”

ON THE BUDGET DEFICIT

“Our budget deficit … is much better than we planned.”

“This year we planned, or rather forecast, a budget deficit
of around 6.8 percent. But it will be 3.5-3.8 percent. This
indicator is much better than many countries with developed
market economies.”

ON FOOD SUPPLIES

“I repeat, we have enough grain for domestic consumption.”

“Yesterday evening I signed an order and today two
government decrees will be issued. We are starting distribution
of grain from the intervention fund.”

ON PRESIDENT DMITRY MEDVEDEV’S POLICE REFORM

“What matters is that changes are made to the way their work
is organised and to the structure of the Interior ministry. Of
course it is too early to say whether those changes will take
place or not, but this is the sense of the president’s idea.”

ON WHO MANAGES THE COUNTRY WHEN HE AND MEDVEDEV SLEEP

“We take turns” sleeping.

ON THE TRIAL OF OIL TYCOON MIKHAIL KHODORKOVSKY

“A thief must be in jail.”

“Mr Madoff received a 150 year prison term for a similar
crime in the United States. I think we are a lot more liberal.”

“I would like to remind you that the chief of security at
(Khodorkovsky’s oil company) is now serving a jail term for
murder.”

“Do you think that the chief of security committed these
murders of his own will?”

“We have courts, which in this country are among the most
humane in the world, and I proceed from what has been proven in
court.”

ON ELECTIONS OF LOCAL OFFICIALS

“One of the reasons for cancelling the elections of regional
governors was to prevent criminals from getting to power.”

This reform “has more or less protected society from the
election of criminals, at least to these top regional posts.”

“On the municipal level, unfortunately, that is not the
case. We have direct elections for the heads of municipalities
and unfortunately the influence of criminal elements persists.”

ON THE SACKING OF FORMER MOSCOW MAYOR YURY LUZHKOV

“Maybe it was for unsportsmanlike behaviour.”

“Under the current system, the president directly manages
governors. They are his subordinates and each governor should
treat his manager accordingly.”

ON UKRAINE AND THE CUSTOMS UNION

“In the last 15 years we have seen the first real steps
towards integration and the creation of a new union between our
three states: Russia Kazakhstan and Belarus.”

“If Ukraine was to join these processes in some form or
another, then of course it would be a powerful, important boost,
to maintaining whole sectors of the economy of Ukraine, and to
increase the competitiveness of many of our enterprises.”

“But this is the sovereign choice of the Ukrainian people.”

ON OIL EXPORTS AND ECONOMIC SUPPORT FOR BELARUS

“Everything done by Russia over the decades for the economy
and society of Belarus has been done for the Belarussian people,
and it is quite a lot.”

“Next year 20-21 million tonnes of oil will be shipped to
Belarus without duty and we will receive $5.3 billion less (in
budget revenue). (Duty) on the products refined from this oil
will be returned to our budget.”

“The customs duty on the oil is several times more than the
duty on the products.”

“The leadership of Belarus has taken a clear course toward
integration with Russia and that deserves respect.”

ON INCREASED SOCIAL TAX FOR SMALL BUSINESSES:

“We must go down the road of reducing this burden by
removing rather serious administrative barriers and corruption.
Generally, according to estimates, this burden is roughly the
same in monetary terms (as the increase in social tax).”

ON RUSSIA’S WINNING BID TO HOST THE 2018 WORLD CUP:

“He who is lucky is lucky.”

“You have to work with people, show them respect, show them
our ability to follow through and do it persistently, but
tactfully. For now it is working for us.”

“It is a strong stimulus for the development of the european
part of the country. I am not even talking about sports
infrastructure… which will continue to operate for decades.”

“Young people will be able to do sport in modern
surroundings. There will be less crime and drug addiction. It is
exclusively positive for the future of the country.”

ON THE COAL INDUSTRY

“Raspadskaya (RASP.MM: ) operations will resume today where
they can be resumed” after May explosions at its main mine.

“Many social issues (in the coal industry) have not been
resolved.”

“In certain energy sectors, here and abroad, companies
contribute to funds which are then spent to minimise social
problems when individual enterprises close down. I think these
kinds of funds should be created in the coal industry in the
near future.”

ON THE FERTILISER INDUSTRY

“A price increase of 13 percent is what we agreed with
producers and farmers. Anything more is unacceptable.

“Domestically we consume only 12-15 percent (of fertiliser
output), 20 percent at the very most. The rest is exported. If
we ban exports, the domestic market will crash and we will kill
our producers.”

ON RUSSIA’S RESPONSE TO THE FINANCIAL CRISIS

“In the crisis we could have devalued the rouble more
quickly rather than waiting for speculators … to carry off all
our foreign exchange reserves” through market interventions to
defend the currency.

“We needed to do that from the ecnomic point of view but it
was just as traumatic for the public as 1998.”

ON LIVING STANDARDS
“Pensions increased by 44.9 percent … this year, from
5,333 roubles ($173.6) to 7,800 roubles. It’s not a big deal,
not a golden shower, but it is a decent (amount) for pensioners
who live below the poverty line.”

“Concerning the raising of the retirement age … nothing of
the sort is being planned.”

ON EXTREMISM

“It is necessary to harshly suppress displays of extremism
from all quarters. And our whole society, includig the liberals,
must understand that there must be order.”

ON RACE RIOTS

“We are the children of one country and everyone needs to
behave that way. … People of all ages need to understand we
have one motherland.”

ON RELIGION

“Russia from the very beginning was formed as a multi-faith
country. … Eastern Christianity, some say, is closer to Islam
than to Catholicism. I don’t want to judge the correctness of
that assertion, but religion is formed through centuries. Not
decades but centuries. We need to remember its roots.”

ON THE POOR STATE OF PUBLIC UTILITIES

“We need regional lawmakers to deal with it.”

“Peter the Great, … at a time when his army was mobilised,
sent a plan for his own water closet to (his palace) Peterhof.
He personally gave some thought to it. He was the emperor. So
regional lawmakers should pay more attention.”

ON THE OFFENCE CAUSED BY MOTHER-IN-LAW JOKES

“I have to apologise. I tell these kinds of jokes too
sometimes.”

ON BUFFY THE PUPPY, A GIFT FROM THE BULGARIAN PRIME MINISTER

“He is doing fine. He is leaving little puddles and piles
all over my house, but he is very cute.”
(Reporting by Conor Humphries, Yelena Fabrichnaya, Alexei
Anishchuk and Melissa Akin)
([email protected]; +7495-7751242)

HIGHLIGHTS-Russia’s Putin: Annual Q&A session