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Vladimir Putin's Q&A Meduza's live coverage of the President's annual question time

Vladimir Putin's annual Q&A sessions are known to last for several hours. During these marathon events, people from all across Russia get a rare chance to ask a question directly to the president. However, after many years, there's barely any suspense left. It's safe to say that the (presumably) pre-approved queries pose little challenge to the head of state, and if anything, the Q&A's demonstrate Putin's endurance rather than his ability to answer tough questions. Let's see how it plays out this time.

Good morning!

Welcome to Meduzaʼs live coverage of Vladimir Putinʼs annual Q&A. 

The event starts in less than 30 minutes, but the broadcast is already underway. For now theyʼre interviewing Dmitry Peskov, the spokesman to the President. He seems keen to stress that every Q&A is somehow different from the previous ones. Hmmmm.

Usually a fair share of the questions deal with issues such as housing and electricity bills. A lot of people choose to use the spotlight to declare their admiration for the President. Today, according to Peskov, the questions will focus more on policy and Russiaʼs worsening relations with the West.

Itʼs time for a picture, but Kevinʼs not up yet. It IS 5am in the US, after all.

If you happen to read any Russian, you might want to check out Meduzaʼs Russian live blog — at least to try your luck in our annual Putin Bingo

Hereʼs the link by the way

NATO bashing

Yes, everyone seems sure that many questions will address Russiaʼs foreign policy, and its relations with the West. Brace yourselves, readers, youʼre in for a treat!

Ok, weʼre joined by our own Kevin Rothrock. Heʼs going to do the talking, and Iʼll do the bossing around. We donʼt want the American to doom us all with his trademark sense of humor and superior PhotoShop skills, do we? Over yo you, Kevin!

IT HAS BEGUN

No Putin yet

Hello, everybody! Weʼre getting underway now. Putin has entered the studio. Itʼs glass walls and about 9 million people on hand to take questions for the Russian President.

Weʼre gonna kick off with a «traditionally broad» question asking Putin to «sum up» the year.

Putin mentions all the big hits: Crimea, the Sochi Olympics, industrial achievements in a difficult world economy, oil production at record highs, rising investments.

Nemtsovʼs old political ally Irina Khakamada is in the audience.

As is former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin.

Question: Putin just listed a bunch of positive macroeconomic figures, but what about the common person?

Question: did Putin warn businesspeople that sanctions wonʼt end any time soon?

Putin says first that not everything he said about the economy was positive. (He didnʼt like the insinuation that he was whitewashing the situation.)

Hereʼs a picture of Putin entering the studio with an unusually green folder. Does it say RT there somewhere?

Putin says an «adjustment» was inevitable in the Russian economy, even without sanctions. 

Echo of Moscowʼs chief editor, Alexei Venediktov, is also present in the audience.

Putin says the Russian economy might be fully recovered from todayʼs unpleasantness even sooner than he predicted six months ago (when he said it would take two years).

Could Putin have handled the sanctions any differently? «You can always do it differently, but I think we handled it correctly.»

Putinʼs strategy with sanctions looks like a defiant «make lemonade out of lemons!»

As Putin discusses the necessity of political criticism, the camera shoots to Kudrin. ;-)

Ooh, it turns out Russian farmers want nothing more than for the sanctions to stay in place. According to their text messages, it would be 'catastrophic' if the sanctions were suddenly lifted. Again, hmmmmm.

Putin giving an extended defense of Russiaʼs Central Bank.

Letʼs wait for some of these farmers to suddenly make an appearance. 

The ruble has stabilized, so «be patient,» everbody.

Question: isnʼt the rubleʼs stabilization just because oil prices are up again?

Putin says the rubleʼs rebound isnʼt just about oil prices, says experts see that Russia has survived the worst of its problems and pay off its debt.

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