| JRL Home | JRL Simple/Mobile | RSS | Newswire | Archives | JRL Newsletter | Support | About
Old Saint Basil's Cathedral in MoscowJohnson's Russia List title and scenes of Saint Petersburg
Excerpts from the JRL E-Mail Community :: Founded and Edited by David Johnson

Transcript: Prime Minister Vladimir Putin visits the Channel One headquarters at Ostankino TV centre in Moscow

Vladimir PutinPrime Minister Vladimir Putin visits the Channel One headquarters at Ostankino TV centre in Moscow

During his visit to the Channel One headquarters late yesterday, the prime minister learned how the information programmes desk works and toured the news studio and the production control room. Vladimir Putin also attended the shooting of the TV talent show A Minute of Fame.


Vladimir Putin: Good Morning!

Konstantin Ernst: Have some, Mr Putin! I don't think you had time to have dinner.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you! Do you always work nights?

Konstantin Ernst: Usually, yes. The information programmes desk works 24 hours a day.

Arina Sharapova: We always watch TV from morning till night ­ from the "Dobroye Utro" (Good Morning) programme to everything that is broadcast at night.

Konstantin Ernst: Most of those here will promote their specific programme formats...

Arina Sharapova: Did you say "Dobroye Utro"? I meant to say "This is Only for Me". May I ask a question?

Vladimir Putin: You may. But in fact, I really came down here to wish Mr Ernst a happy birthday since it is coming up.

Konstantin Ernst: Thank you!

Arina Sharapova: I want to ask you a question as the host of "Dobroye Utro." After all, we entertain people first thing in the morning and energise them with optimism and vigour. Tell us, please, you have an extremely demanding schedule, we know; how do you manage, given such a schedule, to survive, if I may be so bold? How do you recuperate? How much do you sleep?

Vladimir Putin: Six hours.

Arina Sharapova: Is six hours enough for you?

Konstantin Ernst: May I interject here? One of my acquaintances said that he left Mr Putin's office yesterday at 2:40 a.m.

Vladimir Putin: We held a meeting on a very important issue, a very serious one of great social significance ­ salary and military pension. The meeting was over at 1:30 a.m. And then there were still a number of people who couldn't leave without asking a couple of questions, and so we finished just past 2 a.m.

Arina Sharapova: Do you have a cup of coffee in the morning?

Vladimir Putin: I don't drink coffee.

Arina Sharapova: Tea?

Vladimir Putin: I drink it, but very rarely.

Question: Are there times when you just want to rest?

Vladimir Putin: There are.

Question: Do you manage to?

Vladimir Putin: I manage to, of course. It is not a "crazy" schedule, as you said, such a schedule is...

Remark: Extremely demanding!

Vladimir Putin: But sure, it is arduous, of course. But since I like what I do, as do you...

Remark: Yes, it's true.

Vladimir Putin: Basically, when a person is happy doing his job, it's a source of enjoyment.

Remark: Well, judging by how you look, this is true...

Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much. Likewise.

Kirill Kleimyonov: In the news, Mr Putin, the topic besides Egypt that has certainly dominated the last two weeks is the terrorist attack at Domodedovo. And, by all appearances, the investigation has determined that the most likely scenario can be traced to Dagestan.

Vladimir Putin: Has the investigation said that the trail leads to Dagestan?

Kirill Kleimyonov: Well, at least the main suspects were named.

Vladimir Putin: Who named them?

Kirill Kleimyonov: Well, I agree that... At least, there were no denials.

Vladimir Putin: I think that for the official news to be able to talk about a trail, it needs to get credible information from the investigation and not rely on rumours.

Kirill Kleimyonov: Then, are you able to tell us anything about this trail?

Vladimir Putin: No, or rather, I could say something, but for now, I will not. The investigation is underway; people are working, working effectively, it must be said, in this sense.

Kirill Kleimyonov: Are there clues?

Vladimir Putin: No clues. Consider the entire case solved.

Kirill Kleimyonov: But in this context, there is a lot of talk about needing to adopt the practices of our peers ­ the American experience and the Israeli experience. Do you think this is really serious for us? Ben Gurion International Airport, for example, cannot be compared to any of Moscow's airports in size. Ben Gurion serves many fewer flights and it is much easier to provide security there. There are dozens of airports like this in Russia.

Vladimir Putin: In fact, you have just answered your own question. You said Ben Gurion International Airport is considerably smaller in size than any Moscow airport. But, I think you made a wrong conclusion: a smaller airport takes less effort to protect than a bigger one.

Kirill Kleimyonov: This is exactly what I mean.

Vladimir Putin: Then excuse me if I misunderstood your question. We do indeed have many more airports in Russia and each of them is bigger and demands a greater security effort. But if your question was whether we can and should adopt their experience, then sure, we can and we should.

Kirill Kleimyonov: What specifically should we adopt?

Vladimir Putin: Everything they are more efficient in. And we should give them due credit as they have more efficient results. Is it possible to make similar efforts in Russia? Probably not in everything, but much can be done. Are we exchanging experience in this field? Certainly we are. We have established unprecedented contact and interaction with many special services, and I have to say that a common terrorist threat unites specialists. This work has brought results, and it is mutual.

Certainly, there is much for law enforcement agencies to do and much work on the inside, on conditions that pose a threat to us. By 'us' I mean all Russian citizens first and foremost. And certainly, we should improve security at public places and infrastructure facilities, without consideration for time or money. In this case, we should adopt the experience of our foreign colleagues in many countries. Do we have different circumstances? I think we do. In Russia, the threat comes from within the country, while in other countries there is an external threat. Of course, this is a rather rough definition as we all have internal and external threats. Yet, overall the major threat in Russia comes from within while their threats are external. For instance, Israel is building a separation barrier, as you know. I will not give any political assessment as to whether it's good or bad. I think it's not efficient or civilized, but that's not the point. In any case, the threat comes mostly from outside, as well as in the United States which is surrounded by Mexico in the south and Canada in the north, and two oceans in the east and west. Whereas we live in the centre of the Muslim world which is going through a highly difficult stage in its development, with Muslims affected by all these problems. This certainly has an impact on us while we have enough of our own problems. For us, this threat appears more relevant and challenging. Yet it also means we should act promptly.

Finally, I think there are certain character traits typical of Russians. We lose awareness too fast. People outside Russia are very much aware of and responsive to any threat, while so far it is different in our country. Today, people are leaving Egypt amid the current civil unrest while Russian tourists are still flying there on holiday.

Remark: With children and pregnant women...

Vladimir Putin: Even though looters are everywhere and there is stealing even in hotels. But Russians keep going there. The same is happening inside the country. We all ­ along with the mass media, special services, law enforcement agencies and public organizations ­ have to change our attitude to these issues.

I will say again that we have numerous problems in the country: we have to combat unemployment in the Caucasus as well as handle many other issues. But I have to say that the terrorism issue is equally acute for the well-to-do European countries as well, and it is obvious for all. It means that there is more to it than just the internal problems typical of Russia. It means that the world is going through a certain phase in its evolution and must endure all these hardships.

By the way, throughout its modern history mankind has seen outbreaks of terrorism but they eventually subside. This clearly indicates that this is a phase that the world is going through. I could go on, but there are objective things which require prompt action from all of us.

Alexei Pimanov: Can I ask another question? Following this terrorism act, there were numerous calls from those who had watched The Man and The Law TV programme, and the site nearly went down. They all asked the same question which has yet to be answered: why hasn't anyone claimed responsibility for the attack? The next question is why is this done at all? Everyone asks this question and cannot understand.

Vladimir Putin: You know, this question cannot always be answered. It's a good question: why is this done and who claims responsibility for it?

They do not claim responsibility, and often don't even understand why they are doing it. It's senseless cruelty, absolutely meaningless. Often, they don't know what they want and cannot articulate their demands. It's a kind of anarchic terrorism against everything, against the state, against the authorities, against the country.

Alexei Pimanov: In other words, they don't have a single centre?

Vladimir Putin: Why? There are international terrorist centres; they exist and they finance these activities. But those who carry out the orders often do not understand what they are doing. And then sometimes they are in such a state that they are not in control of their actions.

Alexei Pimanov: That is clear. But the people who send them to commit those acts of terror, finance them and set this horrible mechanism in motion, why do they do it? Obviously, they want to create panic...

Vladimir Putin: They are trying to rock the boat, to destabilise the situation in the country, cause panic and sow mistrust in the authorities. Riding the crest of this wave, they try to get somewhere, to get to people's hearts, destabilise the situation even more and make people believe that they are right. That is all there is to it. Let's recall what happened in Chechnya in the mid-1990s. It was not until the local clergy realised that they were being separated from their own people that they took up arms and started fighting against Wahhabism, I mean Wahhabism in the negative sense, because there are different kinds of Wahhabism.

Maxim Shevchenko: To continue with this subject, since we talked about this important matter. During last week's programme, "Judge for Yourself," where we discussed measures to counter terrorism, we had live from Grozny the head of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov. When he was asked how this evil could be overcome, he spoke of the need to engage young people in the Caucasus (not only ethnic Caucasian youths, as I understand it, but young people living in the North Caucasus in general) in more ambitious social projects connected with new types of activity, new types of work because unemployment, he said, is one of the main factors allowing young people in the North Caucasus to be drawn into terrorist activities.

Vladimir Putin: It's a breeding ground for that.

Maxim Shevchenko: What can be done about this? Please, dwell on this issue, because I am aware that a concept for the region's socio-economic development has been adopted, it was recently presented by Alexander Khloponin.

Do you think it is possible to involve young people of the North Caucasus in something useful and distract them from these philosophical and religious debates that lead nowhere?

Vladimir Putin: You know, all events of this kind, events in the broad sense, activities of this kind (social, political and economic) have a long cycle. Just recently we were saying that Grozny looked like Stalingrad after the battle of Stalingrad. This is no longer the case. It took five to seven years to restore the city. You know that the birth rate in these republics is high. Traditionally, industry has been underdeveloped there. Chechnya had an oil and gas industry during Soviet times, but otherwise there was no industry to speak of. The oil and gas complex has been restored, but that is not enough.

Security needs to be ensured in order to develop industrial forces and create new jobs. Government investment alone cannot solve the problem. In general, there is a sense that government investment is not always effective enough. Private investment must be brought in. But show me a private investor who will go there. I had a hard time persuading Rosneft to go there. True, they have got off to a good start, one must give them credit for this. They are doing some good work and making a profit. Other businesses are also moving in. They are going into Chechnya because the situation there is calm. Calmer, perhaps, than in other North Caucasus republics.

But one problem leads to another. It takes time. You are right that we have adopted a programme for the development of southern Russia (which includes the North Caucasus), and now we are launching a special programme for the development of the North Caucasus. There is a plan to create 450,000 new jobs in the coming years. Of course, the absence of these jobs and chronic unemployment contribute to terrorism. It is not the cause of terrorism, but it does thrive in this kind of environment, with young people hanging around with nothing to do. By the way, they surface in large cities in Russia and cause resentment among the local population. Why? Many of them are uneducated, coming straight from small villages. They are misfits even at home, and when they find themselves in this new environment they cannot find a place for themselves, and the local people, naturally, do not welcome them. Dealing with this issue takes time and, of course, money. We will allocate money for this, indeed, we already are.

Voice: Could we look at Chechnya from a different perspective, a perspective that is hardly shown on television at all. Recently, Gayevsky, the governor of the Stavropol Territory, was explaining at a meeting chaired by Dmitry Medvedev that he had organised a special unit of the regional police to watch over security forces from Chechnya and Ingushetia who spend their holidays there...

Vladimir Putin: What did he do?

Voice: He set up a special unit at the Internal Affairs Department to watch over security and military forces from Chechnya and Ingushetia coming to his region for their holidays, because some terrible things are happening.

I know that many of those present (several people for sure) have been caught in such situations in Moscow. For example, they are spending a quiet evening at a restaurant and then the security guards approach them and ask them, politely, to move their cars because a colourful show, probably with some shooting, is about to begin. I've observed this kind of situation twice: on one occasion on Kutuzovsky Prospect about 20 men came out and fired dozens of rounds. Clearly, they were not just hoodlums, they belonged to some security or military services and carried arms legally, otherwise they would not have been so calm... And then they drove away burning rubber... No one seemed to object. The police were around, but they did not react... Can something be done about this so that people behave properly in a normal human environment?

Vladimir Putin: Any military officer, wherever he serves ­ in the North Caucasus or in other Russian regions ­ must obey certain rules. If he does not follow these rules he has no place in law enforcement or security agencies. Of course, this kind of behaviour should not be tolerated. If this is not done, it's a shame ­ it means we should look where these things happened, who was on duty and why they failed to react.

Voice: This is their idea of resting.

Vladimir Putin: No one is against letting them rest. People who serve in special conditions and risk their lives have a right to rest. But they should not disturb other people while they are relaxing. Come to think of it, they are serving the very citizens whom they are disturbing and putting in a state of shock with their behaviour. If they do not understand this, then they have no place in law enforcement agencies.

Question: In general, how do you feel about the fact that people have the right to keep firearms at home?

Vladimir Putin: Negatively, I am categorically against it. Moreover, I think we should tighten the rules for the sale of non-lethal weapons.

Question: But that would make Russia an exception compared with the West.

Vladimir Putin: Why? Is it allowed in all the other countries?

Voice: In some countries, yes...

Vladimir Putin: It is allowed in some countries, for example in the United States. We know the tragic incident: a congresswoman was advocating the free possession of guns and herself became a victim. One has to understand that this has a lot to do with tradition, and we do not have such a tradition. I am sure that the free circulation of firearms would cause great harm and pose a great threat for us. Anyway, today it can be controlled somehow and there are grounds for controlling it. Once it is allowed, there will be no grounds for prosecuting. This is not suitable for us, as people have too many weapons as it is.

Question: Will the campaign against firearms be stepped up?

Vladimir Putin: I think so. In general, I hope we can improve the state of law enforcement in the country. It is not by chance that Dmitry Medvedev has initiated a reform of the Interior Ministry, and this is part of the reason. This is not about changing the name; this is being done to improve the overall situation with law enforcement.

Question: I have another question in connection with all that. In Moscow, we often witness an interesting situation: a young man, or a pretty woman, is driving in a sleek Bentley or Ferrari followed by a patrol car with its flasher on. The car stops, the men in uniform wielding automatic rifles leap out. The rates for such services are well known, upward of $5,000 a month.

Vlaidmir Putin: I think this is wrong.

Voice: They just buy police services.

Vladimir Putin: Especially armed guards. I think this is wrong, and should be changed. There are private security firms, and people are free to use their services. The Interior Ministry has more personnel than the Defence Ministry. Does that make sense? We discussed this issue until 1:30 a.m. yesterday, and Dmitry Medvedev discussed it today to draw the line on the issue of raising servicemen's salaries. We must increase military salaries and then the salaries for all law enforcement agencies and similar structures.

More to be posted soon...

Keyword Tags:

Russia, Government, Politics -Russia, Media, Internet - Russia News - Russia - Johnson's Russia List

Bookmark and Share - Back to the Top -        


Bookmark and Share

- Back to the Top -        

  Follow Johnson's Russia List on Twitter Tweet