Russian President Vladimir Putin is a no-nonsense public speaker, and his four-hour annual Q&A was bound to produce some examples of his trademark wit. Here are some of Putin's most noteworthy replies.
On wanting to rule the world
“When it comes to ruling the world, we know very well where those who are trying to do exactly that have their headquarters,” Putin said. “And its not in Moscow,”he added.
On going back to the USSR
On the benefits of sanctions
“Our economy adapted to [the sanctions]. Yes, there are negative effects, but there are also plus points from this whole sanction business,” the president said. “It made us switch our brains on in many areas.”
On the Crimea referendum conundrum
“If it was an illegal seizure, then the people of Crimea arent guilty of anything. But if they came and voted – then there was no annexation. Sanctions have been imposed against the Crimean citizens. But if they did nothing wrong – why were they introduced?” the head of state wondered.“And if they were imposed over the vote – then it must be acknowledged that the vote succeeded.”
A female journalist came to the Q&A bearing a sign that read “Not given the word for 4 years.” Putin noticed the banner and asked for the woman to finally be allowed to ask her question, while shifting the blame on his press secretary.
“Its all Peskovs fault, lets punish him,” he laughed.
On journalists and spies
One journalist took the opportunity to congratulate Putin on the Day of Military Counterintelligence, celebrated in Russia on December 19. Putin, who used to be a KGB officer, responded with a quip comparing the journalist's profession to his own background.
On the 'rap crackdown
Putin believes cracking down on hip-hop with arrests and concert bans – something he's been accused of lately – is pointless, since it “gives the opposite result to the desired one. Nothing good will come out of it.”
There's “nothing good” about obscene language and drug glorification in rap songs, either, he added. “Its degradation of society.”
On missile treaties and nuclear war
Speaking about the risks of a major nuclear conflict breaking out, Putin said the US forced Russia's hand in creating to develop new weaponry by withdrawing from both the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM) and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).
We were forced – forced! – to develop new weapons. It was simply a matter of preserving parity. So, they shouldnt whine about how we gained some kind of an advantage. We didnt gain an advantage, we preserved the balance, we provided for our own security.
On his most emotional moment of 2018
“There were two. There were the presidential elections, that goes without saying – that was important for the whole country. And the football World Cup! That also turned out important," Putin said.
On getting (re-)married
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