When asked about the next president of Russia in 2008 and the governing of Russia, Putin said: “I do not govern the country, I just work.” A reporter from NTV network pointed out that the president had not yet exposed the name of his possible successor. “There will be no successors for this position,” Putin stated. However, the president added that he has a right to express his personal preference regarding a future presidential candidate only when the pre-election campaign starts.
“I have said that before and I am saying this again – there will be no successor. There will be candidacies for the position of the President of the Russian Federation. The goal of the authorities is to guarantee a democratic way for their election campaigns so that citizens of the Russian Federation could make their own choice,” Putin stated.
The president also said that he feels responsible for what is going to happen in Russia after 2008. “ This is not a joke . But the choice is to be made by the people of Russia ,” he said.
Another reporter asked Putin to comment on a recent statement made by Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov. Luzhkov excluded a possibility of holding gay pride parades in Moscow and described such an event as “satanic.” Putin marked that it was not his business to comment on the actions and statements made by heads of Russian regions. However, he expressed his attitude to gay pride parades and said that the demographic crisis was one of the biggest national problems in the country nowadays. “On the other hand, I respect all sides of freedom of man,” the head of state said.
Answering a question about his biggest accomplishment during his presidency, Putin pointed out the restoration of Russia’s territorial integrity, the strengthening of political system and the growth of the national economy.
As for a series of scandalous assassinations in Russia, which received an extensive coverage worldwide, Putin said that he did not see anti-Russian conspiracy in those crimes. “Frankly speaking, I do not believe in conspiracy theory,” said he. Speaking about the people, who try to cause damage to Russia, the head of state said: “It is well-known who those people are. They are the people, who hide from Russia’s justice system for the crimes that they committed in Russia, in the economic field first and foremost. They are so-called exiled oligarchs who hide in the countries of Western Europe and the Middle East. However, it doesn’t concern us much. Russia’s stability gives us an opportunity to look at it from above,” he said.
Putin set out a hope that law-enforcement authorities would be able to solve those crimes. Speaking about the former FSB officer Litvinenko, Vladimir Putin said that the agent had no state secrets at his disposal. “He was called into criminal account on the allegation of power abuse. He was sentenced to three years on probation only, so there was no need for him to escape. It is up to investigators to find out what happened in London,” the president said.
As for the assassination of journalist Anna Politkovskaya, Putin said: “Only investigation or even court will be able to say who stands behind that murder. The persecution of journalists is one of the most serious problems to date. We realize our responsibility. We will do everything to protect the journalistic corps. Anna Politkovskaya was an outstanding critic of the Russian government. It’s good. However, I remember other journalists including Paul Khlebnikov. One of our American partners has recently said the right words about him. He said that Paul Khlebnikov died for the democratic Russia, for the development of democracy in Russia. I totally agree with this estimation,” Putin stated.
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov