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During Call-in, Putin Airs Views on US, Syria, Economy, Potholes

  • VOA News

Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures as he answers a question during his annual call-in show in Moscow, April 14, 2016.

Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures as he answers a question during his annual call-in show in Moscow, April 14, 2016.

Russian President Vladimir has accused the United States of having "imperial ambitions.'

Speaking Thursday during his annual television call-in show, Putin was asked which U.S. presidential hopeful was "worse for Russia" — Democrat Hillary Clinton or Republican Donald Trump.

The Russian president responded that it was not a question of "particular people," but whether the United States proceeds "from the false premise of its exclusivity," — which, he said, will mean it will always claim "special status and special rights."

"It is necessary to look at the root of the problem and act not from a position of force and dictate, not from the perspective of imperial ambitions, but to act respectfully with all partners, and. of course, with Russia," Putin said.

Syria

Commenting on the Syrian conflict, he said the Syrian people must engage in talks to agree on a new constitution for their country, and that the solution to Syria's problems is not to be found in military action.

Putin also said the so-called Panama Papers report on offshore accounts allegedly held by international public figures, including world leaders and their friends and relatives, were a "provocation." Some of the accounts detailed in the report allegedly belonged to close Putin associates.

The Russian leader blamed U.S. officials for leaking the Panama Papers information to the media. At the same time, he characterized that information as "reliable."

Russian economy

Putin blamed rising food prices in Russia on Western sanctions for its intervention in Ukraine. But he said a solution to the country's faltering economy lies in changing the nation's economic structure.

Kremlin officials say the television show provides a way for Putin to assess the country's mood, listen to direct appeals and explain policies.

The hours-long broadcast has been an annual tradition since 2001. Russian state media say Putin's 13 Q&A sessions since that time total more than 45 hours. In 2013, Putin stayed on the air for nearly five hours.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, speaks during his marathon call-in TV show in Moscow, April 14, 2016.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, speaks during his marathon call-in TV show in Moscow, April 14, 2016.

During the show Putin said Russia considers Turkey a friendly nation, despite the current strain in their relations.

But when asked which of his foes he would rather save from drowning, the president of Turkey or the president of Ukraine, he quipped, "If someone wants to drown, you can not save them."

Putin's love life

Putin, who is divorced, dodged a question about his love life, saying it is "not important."

And proving that some problems are universal, the first question Putin took was from a woman in Siberia who asked about getting some local potholes repaired.

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