Putin Talks Coronavirus, Economy, Elections at Annual Marathon Presser
President Vladimir Putin’s annual press conference on Thursday focused heavily on the coronavirus pandemic that has hit Russia hard.
The event follows a tumultuous 12 months for the Kremlin that also included unrest across the post-Soviet world, ongoing protests in the Far East and the poisoning of opposition figure Alexei Navalny.
Speaking to journalists via video-link from his official residence outside Moscow, Putin also fielded questions on the economy and foreign meddling in elections.
Here are his main quotes from the marathon presser:
On whether he has received the Sputnik V vaccine
— “I’m quite law-abiding. I’ll listen to the recommendations of specialists, so I’ve not done it yet. But I will definitely do it as soon as it’s possible. I see no reason not to get vaccinated.” [Editors’ note: Experts have warned that Sputnik V could be harmful for patients aged 60 and older.]
— “We’re lacking the equipment and hardware to produce the necessary number of vaccines.”
On Russia’s coronavirus response
— “Not one country was ready for [a health crisis] such a scale. Compared to the rest of the world, our healthcare system turned out to be more effective.”
— “We learned from our friends and immediately gained time and closed the border. We added 270,000 beds and built 40 treatment centers.”
On the economic impact of the coronavirus
— “You’ve said that things were never as quite bad as they are now. But they were!”
On the 2021 State Duma elections
— “Up to 16 parties can take part in the election campaign next year. They have very different points of view, but at the same time practically each of them acts from a patriotic position. All have one goal: the well-being and development of the country.”
— “Russia is one of the most open countries in the world. Foreign observers are prohibited in certain states in the United States. We will expand opportunities to achieve the main thing so that citizens in our country are confident in the transparency of elections.”
On alleged Russian election interference
— “Russian hackers did not help Trump to be elected and did not interfere in the internal affairs of this great power. This is a provocation and a reason for the deterioration of relations.”
— “U.S.-Russia relations have become hostages of the internal [U.S.] political situation. I hope Biden understands what is happening, he is an experienced person.”
This story is being updated.
(c) The Moscow Times