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Wednesday, 7 March, 2001, 12:13 GMT
Russia's President, Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin answered your questions in a unique webcast LIVE from the Kremlin.


 Click here to watch a recording of the webcast in English

 Click here to watch a recording of the webcast in Russian


It is just over a year since Vladimir Putin was catapulted into the leadership of Russia, following Boris Yeltsin's abrupt resignation.

On a mission to restore Russia's confidence and its standing in the world, the former spy has earned himself a reputation as a strong man, but has yet to prove himself a democrat.

The renewed military intervention in Chechnya launched by Mr Putin in his first days as prime minister has won him praise at home, but condemnation abroad.

Among the major challenges Mr Putin faces are reform of the corrupt and inefficient economy, and of the bloated, impoverished military. He has embarked on both, but so far with little to show for it.

In international relations he has moved to re-assert Russia's dominance of its weaker former Soviet neighbours, and to strengthen relations with countries such as China and Iran, in order to counter the USA's status as the world's pre-eminent superpower.


These are just a few of the hundreds of questions we have received:

What is Iran's status in your policy? Do you think that recent ties are temporary or permanent?
Hossein Ketabdar, Mashhad, Iran

Which politician would you say is your biggest inspiration and what is the reason?
Tatiana Lagewaard, Amsterdam, Holland

In your youth you were heavily influenced by communism. In other words, you were an active communist. Is it so easy to shift from one philosophy to another? Do you regret the "change"?
Dany Doueik, Beirut, Lebanon

I want to see more Russian involvement in preventing and solving conflicts in Africa. What are the Russians' plans for the continent?
Manuel Barros, Luanda, Angola


What is Iran's status in your policy?

Hossein Ketabdar, Mashhad, Iran

When will environmental issues be seriously put upon the agenda of Russian politics?

Jennifer, London, England
In light of the many nuclear accidents in areas of the former USSR and Russia itself (e.g. Chernobyl, Kyshtym, Chelyabinsk) when will environmental issues be seriously put upon the agenda of Russian politics?
Jennifer, London, England

Why does your country continue to allow human rights abuses like those that are taking place in Chechnya at the moment?
Claire Curtis, Manchester, England

What do you think about the Middle East problem?
Cema, USA

What are Russia's plans for the unexploited resources of the eastern side of the country? Is there anything being done to utilise this massive commodity? Does Russia fear the area may come under attack by resource hungry countries such as China and/or Japan?
Alex Ginns, Colchester, UK

I work for a European translation company and have therefore had the pleasure of knowing a number of native Russians. From my experience I have discovered that the average Russian has a really great sense of humour. However, I would guess that the majority of the people living in the West still perceive Russians as the enemy. What are you doing to promote the positive sides of the Russian people to the rest of the world.
Lawrence Cassidy, Manchester, UK


Do you think that Russia is still a Superpower?

David Camilleri, Rabat, Malta
Do you think that Russia is still a Superpower? Does neutrality and non-alignment issues still have any significance nowadays?
David Camilleri, Rabat, Malta

Now that you no longer share ideological connections with China, how would you describe your relationship with that country? Do you support their continued claim on Taiwan? Are you envious at the pace of China's technological advancement, achieved, as it is, by still adhering to the old politics? Are you at all disturbed by its military spending?
Malcolm Turner, Stoke, England

Amongst various warnings to USA about Taiwan, China's Foreign Minister was today quoted as saying: "that President Jiang Zemin and Russian President Vladimir Putin would sign a Good Neighbourly Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation during a visit to Moscow by Jiang in July." What does President Putin aim to gain from that treaty and how does he think the rest of the world will react to two superpowers forming an alliance ?
Jonathan Evans, London, England

How do you see your ties with PR China developing in the future and do you think that your recent discovery of a Chinese spy in Russia will harm relations? With PR China set to overtake the US economy in 10 years time, would it not be prudent to develop strong ties with the Chinese as I'm sure that would petrify those in the West!
Ashleigh Robinson, Southampton, United Kingdom

Is the President prepared to take his country down the road to a more ecologically green future or not?????
Paul Barry Verrill, Middlesbrough

Canada and Russia share a common border in the north. Is it possible that we could also share responsibilities for the preservation of this fragile environment?
Joe Lor, Brockville Canada

I want to buy a plot of land in Russia to build a house on. Can I do that yet, if not, when.
Douglas Brydone, Edinburgh Scotland.

What action is the President going to take about the recent revelations about the sinking of the Nuclear submarine the Kursk.
Paul Barry Verrill, Middlesbrough

Mr President In a recent news published in the UK it said that Russian teenagers were amongst highest drug users in Europe. How do you feel about this?
Dave Barr, Glasgow, UK

Do think George W. Bush won the US presidential elections fairly....if not, will you take him seriously?
Shikhita Singh, London, UK

Following your visit to London and meeting Tony Blair, (and vice versa), do you see this as the start of a possible 'special relationship', and have you any more plans to visit?
Chris Parker, Cheltenham, UK

What do you think of the way political messages are delivered to the electorate in the West? Do you think the American way of marketing policies to the voters should be adopted in Russia?
Tom Picking, London, UK

I would be interested to know what your opinion is about the prospects of Russia joining the EU. Is this a realistic aim, and do you seek to achieve it?
Gordon Christian, York, UK

I was wondering whether Russia was able and/ or willing to help developing countries in Africa? If so, what is it doing to assist, particularly those countries such as Angola and Mozambique, which were devastated by the Cold War?
Jeremy Kuper, London, England


Do you see any place for the theories of Marx and Lenin in the new Russia?

Robert Tristram, Guildford, UK
You defended and fought for communism for years and you have restored the former Soviet national anthem to Russia. Presumably you are not a communist now, but are you still a socialist, and do you see any place for the theories of Marx and Lenin in the new Russia?
Robert Tristram, Guildford, UK

How did you feel when the Soviet Union broke up? Do you feel the current Russia is more influential than Soviet Russia?
Malcolm Butler, Portsmouth, England

In your view as your country's current leader, which great historical figure from Russia's past offers present-day Russia a more relevant role model for leadership: Peter the Great or Ivan the Terrible?
Steve Olson, Stanley, County Durham, UK

Russia has been pioneer in number of space exploration, not only in the science but technical know how. What would be the "long range plan" for Russian Space program?
Faraj, Detroit, U.S.

Former President of the United States, George Bush was once head of the CIA. You were part of a similar organization, the KGB. In making similar career choices, do you believe you possess the same principles in conducting one's life as him? If not, how do you differ?
Fiona, Canada

Mr President, Do you think in future Russia and the west may learn to trust each other more and maybe dispose of their Nuclear weapons? The thought of these weapons being on high alert fills me with dread. After all, sir we all live under the same sky.
Alan Gillies, Manchester, England, UK

What measures are you taking to ensure that nuclear bombs and material do not get into the hands of rogue nations and terrorists?
Roy Abramowitz, La Jolla, USA

What is the Russian viewpoint on the proposed European Rapid Reaction Force?
Tom DEUCHAR, London, U.K

Mr Putin, Do you participate in Judo at a competitive level or only at recreational, I have only seen a short news footage of you playing, but from what I saw your technique looked very good. Will you continue if time permits you to improve your grade? I think you should. As it is an excellent way to vent any frustration and with you being one of the most powerful leaders in the world, perhaps this is a good thing.
Ian Blatherwick, Nottingham, England

I enjoy visiting Russia to see friends and to join in discussion on medical research. I am thinking of making financial investment in the development of Russian technology. Can we be assured that the new spirit of openness and friendship will continue?
Anthony Scott-Morley, Poole, Dorset, UK

What would you like Russia's place in the world to be in 10 year's time?
Stefanie Ortmann, Munich, Germany

Dear Mr President What are your thoughts on China entering the WTO in 2001? Do you believe this will weaken Russias position in a global trading perspective?
Gisle Ullbraten, Student, Oslo, Norway

What is being done to avoid disasters like the one with the Kursk?
Rodrigo Onias, Sao Paulo, Brazil

Can you tell me why the Russian prosecutor's office has so far commenced so few investigations and criminal trials, compared to the number of allegations which have been made? What steps is Russia planning to take in 2001 to more effectively investigate the allegations of torture, arbitrary detention, extrajudicial execution and rape of civilians in Chechnya and to bring the perpetrators to justice?
Katrine Del Villar, Canberra, Australia

What are your thoughts on the possible survival of Tsarevich Alexei Nikolaevich? It is reported that he did survive and came to the UK, and fathered a son. If this were proved true, what are your thoughts on the possible reinstatment of the Tsar?
HMSH Princess Tatjana Nikolaevna Romanov, London, UK

As everyone is aware, Russia and China were among the countries which condemned the Nato moves in the Balkans. This led to a cooling of relations between Russia and Europe/ America. Do you see any likelihood, in the event of the deployment of a European Rapid Reaction Force, that Russia and Europe would co-operate militarily without the involvement of the US, and if so where?
Russell Long, UK

Margaret Thatcher once famously said that Mikhail Gorbachev was 'a man I can do business with'. What do you think she would say about you?
Brian Chadwick, Ipswich, England


How are you progressing with your English lessons?

Simon Handy, Kyoto, Japan
I spent three happy and exciting years in Moscow as an English teacher and made many friends. I am sure that you will have many important and difficult questions to answer but I would like to know more about you! We've seen the pictures of you playing judo but do you enjoy any other sports or hobbies? Do you think that Spartak can still qualify for the next stage of the Champions League? Finally how are you progressing with your English lessons?
Simon Handy, Kyoto, Japan

How do you see the recent Afghan move to dismantle world heritage and their stand regarding Osama Bin Laden?
Deeleep Dhakal, Kathmandu, Nepal

How safe are the nuclear weapons and the reactors in Russia now? Are you sure that they keep the safety standards and are not smuggled out of your country.
JYOTHI KUMAR, New Delhi

After the end of the Cold War, the United States has taken the upper hand in the balance of power. Russia and its allies have lagged far behind and hence their stance is being underestimated. Have you thought about building a bloc that would give a strong resistance to the growing stronghold of the united states?
Rajan Kafle, kathmandu,Nepal

What exactly are you planning to do about taking over the media? Are you aware people think you are heading towards communism again? What do you have to say to people who think this?
Ella Yung, Indianapolis, IN

Your government and other previous governments of Russia have utterly failed to crush the struggle of Chechnya to be an independent entity. Therefore, why you continue the war that you have failed to win?
Isse ahmed, geneva,switzerland

Since the Kursk disaster will the Russian navy call for help earlier if such a thing happens again?
Terry Helton, Crown Point USA

Don't you think that some of the lives of the Kursk submarine could have been saved, if you had allowed the service of expert divers from Norway and other countries who offered help from the very beginning?
Abhay Kumar Nair, Accra, Ghana

Although you have been in power for a year now, how do you feel about suggestions that your rise to power was orchestrated on the back of the Chechnya war? Ther is so much speculation that the government started the war as a means of ensuring political victory and now that it has served its purpose the issue of Chechnya has become a thorn in the governments side.
rob cordier, elgin

What do you think about Russia's relationship with the IMF and the World Bank? Do you feel that these institutions have been more of a help or a hindrance in Russia's development?
Bill Byron, Moscow, Indiana, USA

I am a retired American journalist with a good deal of experience in reporting political affairs in Eastern Europe. Like many of my colleagues - indeed, like much of the public at large - I am concerned at what appears to be in the West an effort on your part, Mr. President, to silence responsible criticism of your government and its policies. Is my concern justified? Thank you.
Gordon Ackerman, London, England

What are your planned policies in Chechnya in the next years? Do you believe the people against whom Russia uses such violent methods of submission, will ever be able to perceive Russia as friend?
Ilze Gailite Holmberg, Nex°, Denmark

During your presidency, the FSB have pursued the following on charges of espionage and/or treason: Alexander Nikitin - Naval Captain turned Environmentalist; Grigory Pasko - naval journalist and environmental whistleblower; Vladimir Soyfer - scientist studying aftermath of naval nuclear accident; Justin Hamilton - US exchange student collecting environmental information in central Russia. Article 7 of the Federal Law on State Secrets from 1993 states that environmental information, as well as information on public health, cannot be classified. As a former FSB officer, to what extent do you think that making environmental information public represents a security threat to your country?
Mike Pearson, Sheffield, UK

I am sure that many people are intrigued by the more private side of international figures. For example, who are your favourite authors? If you put a CD on when you get home what is it likely to be?
Scott Pack, Windsor, England

Do you have an intention to recreate the former Soviet Union, like a lot of the Russian people want? The
William Davies, London

Do you mind, Mr. President, when you are called in the Western media "a spy"?
Pavel Zablotski, St. Petersburg, Russia

Do you foresee any alignment of eastern countries like Russia, China, India and few member countries of NATO to counter West.
Sushil Jadhav, Tokyo, Japan

Given that many rogue states lie on Russian borders, wouldn't it be in Russia's best interest to align itself closer with Nato and even playing a role in any future SDI project?
Ian Gillan, Aberdeen, Scotland, UK

Do you feel that IMF/Western policies of money for increased democratization and liberalization are hampering or benefiting Russia and Russians?
David Schroeder, Kingston, Canada

What will you do if the United States still insist on implementing the National Missile Defence?
Patrick Santoso, Canberra, Australia

One of the legacies of the Soviet Union is a large number of Russian speaking people outside the borders of the Russian Federation. In Estonia and to a lesser degree in other Baltic states, language laws discriminate against the Russian speaking population. What steps can Russia take to gently and politely convince the Baltic states to do more to help the large Russian minorities in their countries?
Simon, London, England

Any major power must invest in research (both applied and basic). In the last few years Russia has drastically reduced research funds. Russia has many outstanding scientists and researchers and a long tradition of excellence in all sciences. What is the outlook for science and for the Russian scientific community?
Alberto Devoto, cagliari, Italy

Russia has plenty of natural resources, a highly educated workforce, and close proximity to large markets such as the EU and China. Why can't Russia emulate Western economies such as France or Germany? Why does Russia hold on to economic policies and ideologies of the past that have never worked and still keep the majority of citizens in poverty?
Kevin Jones, Fort Worth, USA

Do you not feel that, Russia, Europe, Britain and the United States, have a need for protection against rogue states and a joint anti missile program is the way forward. It would prove that the West and Russia have nothing to fear from each other.
Jeffrey Rpse, Bournemouth UK

Reports here on the war in Chechnya revealed the shocking methods of torture used by your special forces. The example that shocked me the most went like this. A man was put into a gas mask, and your men sealed the air intake with their hands, beginning his suffocation. After two minutes, they removed their hands, and as the man gasped for life, they sprayed tear gas into the air intake, nearly killing him. Can you explain why such barbaric methods are permitted, even in war?
James MacKenzie, Leith, Scotland

Do you believe that the world would be a much safer place with Russia inside NATO, rather than outside it?
James Barber, Grenoble, France

How do you view the continued expansion of the European Union, and the effects this will have upon Russia?
Alex Stovold, London, England

Is there a vision for the future concerning environmental issues? As a country 5 times larger than Australia, with enormous potential for development, and needing said development, how committed is your government to preservation of the multitude of places of unique beauty, and conservation of rare species of flora and fauna?
Jonathan McKee, Sweden

With the European Union increasing co-operation all the time, notably in defence and economic policy, does Russia see it as a threat to its own interests in these areas? In other words is a united Europe good or bad for Russia?
John Walmsley, Liverpool, England

The Cold War ended over a decade ago, and NATO and Russia still maintain their nuclear missiles on high alert. We've been lucky that missiles haven't been launched accidentally in the past. Is Russia capable of taking the initiative to end the nuclear stalemate?
Richard Cooper, Sydney, Australia

In your view, what are the biggest misperceptions that Americans have of the Russian people? What can be done to reduce the barriers (and thus the misperceptions) that exist between the citizens of the U.S. and Russia?
Randy Swartz, San Diego, CA, USA

What are your views on the European Union's rapid reaction force? DO you see it as a driving force for peace within Europe? Thank you. Bill
Bill Jacks, Edinburgh, Scotland

After one year in office I don't see any strong strategies to rebuild the Russian economy. Do you have any quick plans?
Abu, Arusha, Tanzania

Mr. President, why is it so difficult for the Russian leaders and people to view the three Baltic States as independent countries able to choose their own path, and not as former Soviet Republics over which Russia has a right of influence?
Christopher Jones, Stockholm, Sweden

How do you defend your handling of the Kursk nuclear submarine disaster? What is the government doing to ameliorate the hardships of those who lost their family members in the tragedy?
sangeeta das, New Delhi, INDIA

Your country stretches from Europe to Asia both geographically and culturally. Do Russia's interests lie in closer ties with China or with the Western powers? You can try to work with both, but at some level you have to make a choice.
Nicolas Groffman, Shanghai (British)

Why do you not support the United States having a missile defence system and what do you suggest we do instead?
Jim Herring, USA

What do you have to say about the books distributed throughout the school systems in Russia that were about your childhood? Is there any similarity between those books and the books about Lenin's childhood that students had to read in communist times?
Karina, Cliffside Park, New Jersey

How are you planning on dealing with the possibility of the Russian military's involvement in human rights abuses. Although there have been strong allegations at numerous times from different Russian and foreign groups the latest controversy has let the military take over the investigation although they are the accused. Why?
Farooq, Wash-DC USA

If Russia is to purge itself of its tainted Communist past, don't you think that the best way to do that would be to restore the monarchy?
Kevin O'Shea, Los Angeles, USA

What is being done to combat organised crime in your country?
Maryanne Kehoe, Atlanta, Georgia USA

Do you see Russia and Ukraine as one state (unitary, federal, confederacy)?
Sergei, Kingston, Canada

Do you believe that Saddam Hussein can be trusted not to pursue creation of weapons of mass destruction if sanctions are lifted?
Paul Greenhow, Canton, Ohio, USA

On American TV I saw two horrible videos about the training of Russian soldiers. Officers were jumping on soldier's stomachs when soldiers were lying on the floor. The Russian army is now a scarecrow for young Russian men. Are you planning to introduce any laws that will prevent high levels of injuries and humiliation of soldiers?
Tatiana Gaidenko, Davis, USA

Anna Politkovskaya is a respected Russian journalist, who writes for the Moscow paper "Novaya Gazeta". She recently visited Chechenya during 18th-22Feb, in a town called Khottuni, where she reported torture, rape and detention camps run by the Russian army, on ordinary citizens. She herself fell victim to the FSB based there, who claimed to take orders directly from yourself. How do you respond to these claims, and how can you justify the presence of the Russia army in Chechenya?
Adam, London, UK

Mr Putin, what are your thoughts on the recent American/English bombing of Iraq? Does Russia consider Iraq an international pariah and menace?
Hugh Norton-Smith, Sydney, Australia

Why is Russia so against the new missile defence plan being currently proposed by The United States of America?
Kieran Donegan, Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin. Republic of Ireland

I only want to ask what are some of the countries that you spied while a spy agent for Russia (or USSR)?
Rodolphe MC, California, US

Do you think that Russia can build a civil society without having some form of "Truth and Reconciliation" commission (on say the basis of the South African govt example) to examine some of the civil rights abuses of 70 years of communism and 9 years of the changes by your predecessor, Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin?
Philip C, New York USA

Since WWII, Germany has faced up to the horrible events of the Nazi regime. When is Russia going to openly and honestly discuss the terrible crimes committed under the communist regime?
Philip Birzulis, Riga, Latvia


Historic webcast

AUDIO VIDEO

TALKING POINT

Putin in power

IN DEPTH
See also:

15 Jan 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Russia
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