- Russia coped "adequately" with the COVID-19 pandemic, and Russia was better prepared for the pandemic than many other countries, he said.
- President Putin highlighted the fact that Russia no longer depends on oil and gas as their main source of revenue.
- Putin brushed aside questions about Navalny, Safronov, Nemtsov, Furgal, and others.
Russian President Vladimir Putin held an annual press conference on Thursday. One of the first questions was asked by the journalist from Magadan regarding the year 2020 being good or bad. President Putin replied that there were “pros and cons,” outlining the main issues and achievements of 2020, which include the Coronavirus pandemic.
Russia coped “adequately” with the COVID-19 pandemic, and Russia was better prepared for the pandemic than many other countries. “We bought time to start operational preparations, began to quickly deploy the health system and everything related to the fight against the pandemic,” he stated.
There was also a drop of the Russian GDP, by 3.6 %. However, the President pointed out this drop is still lower in comparison to the US and some of the Western European countries. Additionally, there was a drop in wages by 1.5%, and a drop of income by 3%.
Furthermore, President Putin highlighted the fact that Russia no longer depends on oil and gas as their main source of revenue. The Russian portfolio has been diversified, and 70% of the budget comes from other sources.
Moreover, President Putin is very proud that 2020 is the 75th anniversary of the Russian victory in World War II. Russia held one of the largest parades in history this summer commemorating the victory.
President Putin stressed that after the adoption of the amendments to the Russian Constitution, the State Duma elections will be significantly different. Due to the passed amendments, the Russian Parliament has more powers, and the “responsibility of the deputy corps.”
He also spoke about the possibility of the emergence of new parties. He stated that the Russian political system can have a large number of parties. A majority of the Russian opposition parties are just useful tools to show the world that the Russian populous has so called “choices.”
President Putin has not confirmed or denied that he will be running in the 2024 Russian presidential election. It should be noted that with the new amendments, he can remain in power until 2036.
There was also a question about the Alexei Navalny poisoning in August of 2020. President Putin answered, “As for, then, this patient, meaning at the Berlin clinic. I have already spoken about this repeatedly, I can only repeat some things.” President Putin claimed he learned about “the latest fabrications” from his press secretary, Dmitry Peskov.
“We understand perfectly what this is. This isn’t some kind of investigation, it’s the legalization of materials from the American intelligence services. What, we don’t know that they’re location tracking, or what? Our intelligence services understand this very well and they know it. FSB officers know it and other special bodies know it. And they use phones in places where they think they don’t have to hide their place of stay and so on.”
Another question was asked pertaining to President Putin’s former son-in law and his alleged windfall from the shares he bought for $100, and was able to sell for $380 million. He stated the information is false.
“This is utter nonsense. Why pressure Rogozin? He is an official and is working well today, let him continue. If he doesn’t want to work or is working badly, we will change him. There is nothing significant here. There is no conspiracy theory, it is complete nonsense. Get it out of your head.”
According to the President, “there is no conspiracy theory,” particularly against the head of Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, Dmitry Rogozin, in the case of his advisor Safronov.
At the same time, the connection of the criminal case of state treason with Safronov’s work in Roscosmos was repeatedly denied by Roscosmos. It is not the first case where the head of Roscosmos has been accused of setting up people.
The case of Sergei Frugal came up as well. He was removed from his post in Khabarovsk and accused of plotting murders from fifteen years ago. He was not a member of Putin’s party, and the accusations are false. It was purely political. However, according to President Putin:
“The accusations against him are very serious. We are talking about killing people— not about fraud, abuse. I understand people who were disappointed that Sergey Furgal was detained— they voted for him. But this is not political persecution. This is a criminal case.”
The conflict in the Nagorno-Karabakh region is still on President Putin’s agenda. He believes that the conflict has been ongoing for many years. Russia’s interest in this conflict is to come to an” agreement,” and one “without bloodshed.”
The main goal now is to fix the status quo. The position of the Turks, according to the President, is that they supported the “just cause” of Azerbaijan and supported the return of the occupied territories.
Overall, some questions have not been answered. The question about the names of the killers of Boris Nemtsov continued to be unanswered. The press conference was not surprising and predictable.