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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 July 2006, 16:25 GMT 17:25 UK
In quotes: Putin webcast
Key quotes from Russian President Vladimir Putin speaking in a special interactive webcast, organised by the BBC and Russia's Yandex website on 6 July 2006:

NORTH KOREAN MISSILE TESTS

We are disappointed by what's going on. The rights of some cannot be materialised in such a way as to infringe on the rights of others. Tests of this kind cannot be considered normal... [but they] should not lead to such emotions that would drown out commonsense. We should be aiming at reinstating the negotiations process with North Korea [to] arrive at a mutually acceptable compromise

According to our experts, in order to increase the range of the missiles that North Korea has from 1,000km to 3,500km to 6,000km, they need to take those missiles into outer space to the trajectory of 600km and that is impossible considering the level of the technological development in North Korea - at least for the foreseeable future. Six thousand kilometres is practically impossible.

IRAN'S NUCLEAR PROGRAMME

Of course, we are against the development of any weapons of mass destruction. [As for negotiations,] we cannot wait endlessly - it's counterproductive. But it's even more counterproductive to get the problem into an impasse from where we won't know how to get out. I would prefer this issue to be taken back to the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency].

TIES WITH AMERICA AND BUSH

The world has to be multilateral because it is so diverse... Our role is not, as back in the [days of the] Soviet Union, to provide a counterbalance to the United States.

There are dark and light patches in anyone's life but the main thing is for a politician to be a decent person and I believe President Bush is a decent person... President Bush is one of the people I consider as a friend.

MILITARY CONSCRIPTION IN RUSSIA

We cannot do without conscription for economic reasons but the numbers should come down. From January 2008 the term of service will be 12 months. The number of career soldiers will increase.

RUSSIA'S MAIN ENEMIES TODAY

Only terrorists.

RUSSIA'S ENERGY EXPORT CLOUT

Russia will not give away its resources for peanuts. We now adhere to market principles purely and solely.

We will agree a price [for gas] with Ukraine like with any country in Western Europe. Moscow is not influencing the price for the gas. Everybody has got to pay a market price so the subsidies... we effectively used to pay are done with - we are not going back to that. If you insist that we supply our gas at cheap prices to Ukraine you are thereby creating an ineffective economy in a country with our help.

SELF-DETERMINATION FOR BREAKAWAY REGIONS

Kosovo [in Serbia] is one thing, but Abkhazia or South Ossetia [both in Georgia] is another thing? That is something we consider not right. The principles have got to be the same.

CHECHNYA

We have extended extensive rights of autonomy to the Chechen Republic... From what I know of history, the UK never held any talks on disintegration or self-disintegration and we are not going to either.

Was the war in Chechnya worth it? We realised that we would not be left in peace by forces which have nothing in common with the Chechen people. They were talking about creating an Islamic state from the Black Sea to the Caspian Sea. We don't need that and Europe doesn't need that either.

THAT TUMMY KISS

It was an unplanned meeting [in a recent scene captured on video, Mr Putin kissed a little boy on the stomach after seeing him in a crowd of tourists at the Kremlin] - people just came up and started talking to me. He seemed very independent and serious. At the same time a child is always defenceless and nice. I wanted to cuddle him like a kitten and it came out in this gesture. He seemed so nice - there was nothing really behind that.

KILLING TERROR SUSPECTS ABROAD

This is not a death penalty [sending Russian special forces abroad to kill hostage-takers who killed abducted Russian diplomats in Iraq] - this is a way of counteracting aggression.

RACISM IN RUSSIA

This is a very dangerous thing for Russia because it is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious country. The country is not doing enough to protect foreigners. And there is a lot of education involved, of course. I can understand [those African students] who feel vulnerable and I really feel for them.

DEMOCRACY IN RUSSIA

Without democracy there is no future for Russia. We have made our choice ourselves and we believe that the democratic path is the optimum path for the country.

We will always support political opposition. The success of an opposition depends not only on it being in opposition, but also on whether it acts in the interests of a sizeable chunk of the population.

WORLD CUP FINAL

I will be rooting for those who show good, classy football. I think both Italy and France are really worthy of being in the finals.

SOURCES OF PRIDE AND SHAME

I think any citizen of Russia has a right to be proud of their country. Russia cannot be viewed separately from other leading countries of the world. There is much to be proud of but the future of our country can only be ensured if we feel ourselves fully fledged members of the world community and, not least of all, the European family, and this what I am aiming at.

I am not proud of having so many people who are poverty-stricken.

KGB BACKGROUND

As for my service in the KGB, we lived in a different country. Thank God it is now in the past. Working in intelligence you need to be informed about a lot of things and you have to be able to work with people and respect your partners.

THE INTERNET IN RUSSIA

In my view, the fewer restrictions there are, the better.


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