Russian President Vladimir Putin talked American adoptions, the Boston bombings and political corruption for nearly five hours Thursday during the most recent round of the televised Q&A he’s held almost every year since 2001.
Putin's remarks on the "Direct Line" TV program match up, for the most part, with positions he's taken before. But there were some telling, and colorful, moments, as when Putin slammed the domestic U.S. debate over the handling of Boston suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev and called the Magnitsky Act, which barred some Russian officials from entering the U.S., "imperial behavior."
Russians submitted more than 1.75 million questions to the chat, according to Voice of Russia. As RIA Novosti notes in a neat infographic, this was Putin’s longest Q&A ever -- they’ve gotten consistently longer since the first two hour and 20 minute program in 2001.
On the Boston bombings:
Terrorism has no nationality or religion. We have [said] this a thousand times. The problem is with these people’s extremist views. [The Tsarnaevs] came to the U.S. and were given citizenship there. The junior Tsarnaev is a U.S. citizen. Do you know what some U.S. officials say about him? They suggested declaring him a war prisoner. Have they gone mad? Who is a war prisoner? Is there a civil war between the north and the south? They are talking nonsense ...
Many western politicians and journalists have been guided by double standards referring to extremists who carried out attacks in the country as ‘insurgents’. They supported them in many ways. The Boston tragedy has revealed who is who. It is high time to act ...
The United States and Russian security services regularly exchange information. I hope this tragedy [the Boston terrorist attack] will give a fresh impetus to expand this cooperation, which is in the interests of both the American and Russian security services.
On Russia’s relationship with the U.S.:
First of all, I want to say that some cooling in our relations began with events in Iraq. It began not yesterday, not last year and not this year. Then events in Libya and other parts of the world began. ... We observe chaos everywhere. And we do not think that our partners’ position is absolutely right.
On the Magnitsky Act:
What need was there to do it? Nobody can explain. Nobody can say why ... It is such imperial behavior on the foreign policy field. But who will like it?
On American adoption of Russian children:
This is a legal and moral problem. A reason why the Americans wish to adopt Russian children is, as far as I understand, the permission to disclose information about biological parents in the United States. There have been legal cases in which biological parents took away children from adoptive families. Whenever a child is adopted from abroad, including from Russia, it is impossible to receive biological parents' data and that guarantees adoptive families safety from future conflicts.
On Pussy Riot and political prisoners:
No one has been put behind bars because of some political reasons alone. Courts sentence people for violations of laws, not for their political views or even acts ... Both these girls from Pussy Riot and these guys who vandalize the graves of our soldiers should be equal before the law and should be held accountable for what they do.
On political corruption:
The question is about the level of corruption. I will not conceal that corruption, especially grassroots corruption, is excessive and, actually, endangers society as a whole. So, we will be fighting it no less insistently than we [are fighting] inflation. We will crush it as much as we can.
I don't think there are any elements of Stalinism here. Stalinism stands for a personality cult and massive breaches of law, purges and [prison] camps. There is nothing of the kind in Russia and I hope there will never be again. ... But this does not imply we should not have order, discipline and justice.
On Russia’s image around the world:
Why does the world dislike Russia? I do not think that we are unloved or considered to be ignorant. The whole world recognizes Russia’s cultural achievements. It is impossible to imagine the world culture without Russian culture, without our music and literature. It’s a shame not to know about that.
On his record:
We were facing very challenging tasks, and perhaps in some spheres we overestimated our abilities. However, we see that the living standards are on the rise, as well as salaries and pensions. Families with three [or] more children received monthly allowances worth 7,000 rubles. The birth rate is rising, too, although the death rate remains quite high and something should be done [about] it.