Prime Minister Vladimir Putin had an interview with Larry King on November 30. The full interview is going to be aired on December 1, at 9 p.m. ET, but CNN has already posted some excerpts of the interview on its website.
Larry King is one of the most popular talk shows on American television. Mr. King stated that the last edition of his program will be broadcast on December 16, 2010. King talked to Putin in 2000. This time, however, the communication took place in the form of a video conference. Putin was answering King's questions in Russian.
One could predict that King would ask Putin about the WikiLeaks documents. The legendary host was interested in Putin's reaction to the statements from US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who supposedly told his French counterpart that "Russian democracy has disappeared and the government was an oligarchy run by the security services."
When answering the question, Putin stated that Gates was "deeply misled." Putin referred to peculiarities of the US election system saying that in two presidential elections held in the United States, the winner had received a smaller share of the popular vote but won with a majority in the Electoral College, where votes are apportioned by state population.
"When we are talking with our American friends and tell them, there are systemic problems in this regard, we can hear from them 'Don't interfere with our affairs. This is our tradition and it's going to continue like that.' We are not interfering," he said. "But to our colleagues, I would also like to advise you, don't interfere either [with] the sovereign choice of the Russian people."
As for suggestions about Putin holding the real power in Russia, the prime minister said that they were aimed "to slander one of us" (either Putin or Medvedev).
Anyway, the WikiLeaks publications are not a catastrophe, Putin believes. Some experts believe that someone expressly briefs WikiLeaks to use this for their own political ends later, Putin said. He suggested that diplomatic services should be more careful about their official correspondence.
Larry King was interested in Putin's opinion about a new arms race, which may occur if Russia and NATO disagree on the joint missile shield and if the USA does not ratify the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.
"That's not our choice. We don't want that to happen. But this is not a threat on our part. We've been simply saying that this is what all of us expects to happen if we don't agree on a joint effort there."
He also said that Russia would "put in place new strike forces ... against the new threats which will have been created along our borders." "New missile, nuclear technologies will be put in place," Putin added. This would happen if NATO rejects all of Russia's suggestions.
The traditional question about the next presidential vote in Russia received a traditional answer. Putin said that he and Dmitry Medvedev would make a coordinated decision.
"We'll see. There is still quite time before the elections take place," he said.