Some facts about “President” Vladimir Putin’s February 1 “press conference” in Moscow:
The transcript of the proceedings comprises 25,426 words. Not one of them came from a reporter from Novaya Gazeta. So much for the idea that a “press conference” occurred.
Putin stated: “Wages rose by 13.3 percent on average, real incomes increased by ten percent from last year’s base, and old-age pensions rose by 5.4 percent.” But later he stated “For the first time in modern Russian history we had single-digit inflation – 9 percent – in 2006. It is very good to see that this was precisely what we forecast.” If wages rise by 13% and inflation is at 9%, doesn’t that mean real wages increased by 4%, not 10%? And do you notice that Putin doesn’t care to express the wage growth in monetary terms, but rather only in percentages? Guess why: If the average wage is $400 per month, then 13.3% growth is only $53.20 of additional income per month, less than $2 per day, and that’s before taking into account inflation. The same thing occurred when Putin spoke about economic growth. He stated: “We will get the final result for 2006 only in March, but various estimates suggest GDP growth of approximately 6.7-6.9 percent for last year.” What he doesn’t say is that 7% growth on an economic base of $750 billion only amounts to $52.5 billion spread out among a population of 140 million people — that’s just $375 per person, about a dollar a day. So much for the idea that a transfer of information occurred.
Putin was asked “Vladimir Vladimirovich, when President Yeltsin was in power, he had the habit of naming his successors. Under your rule, it’s quite the opposite and you have not yet named any names.” He answered: “You used the word ‘rule’. I do not rule, I simply do my work.” This is like a scoop of (decaying rat-flavored) ice cream saying “I am not cold, I just spend all my time in the freezer. I don’t taste bad, I’m just made from rat entrails.”
The word “murder” was used by only one questioner, never by a Russian reporter. It appears in this exchange:
STEVEN GUTTERMAN (Associated Press): After Anna Politkovskaia’s murder you said that there are people hiding from Russian justice who would like to damage Russia’s reputation. And after Aleksandr Litvinenko’s death your aide Sergei Yastrzhembsky said that this could be part of a plot with that same goal. Can you now tell us a few more details, several months after the tragedy, or say more precisely who you think is behind these murders? Do you think they are foreigners or Russians living abroad? And if yes, then who? Can you name them?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Only an investigation can determine whoever is behind these murders. And moreover only a court can do so, because at the end of the day it is the court that, having weighed all the pro and contra – both the prosecutors’ arguments and the defense of the accused – makes the final decision. As to prominent murders, then it is true that the problem of the persecution of journalists is a very acute problem both for our country and for many other countries. And we acknowledge our responsibility in this. We shall do everything possible to protect members of the press. I recall not only Anna Politkovskaia – she was quite a sharp critic of the authorities and that is a good thing. I recall other journalists as well, including Paul Khlebnikov. And not long ago one of our American partners said something very true: “Paul Khlebnikov died for a democratic Russia, for the development of democracy in Russia”. I completely agree with him. I fully agree with this evaluation. As to other well-known crimes, you know that just recently the investigation into the murder of the Vice-President of the Russian Central Bank has been finished. I very much hope that the law enforcement agencies will manage to find the criminals who have committed other, no less prominent crimes, and ones that are no less harmful to our country.With regards to Litvinenko, I do not have much to add here, except what I have already said. Aleksandr Litvinenko was dismissed from the security services. Before that he served in the convoy troops. There he didn’t deal with any secrets. He was involved in criminal proceedings in the Russian Federation for abusing his position of service, namely for beating citizens during arrests when he was a security service employee and for stealing explosives. I think that he was provisionally given three years. But there was no need to run anywhere, he did not have any secrets. Everything negative that he could say with respect to his service and his previous employment, he already said a long time ago, so there could be nothing new in what he did later. I repeat that only the investigation can tell us what happened. And with regards to the people who try to harm the Russian Federation, in general it is well-known who they are. They are people hiding from Russian justice for crimes they committed on the territory of the Russian Federation and, first and foremost, economic crimes. They are the so-called runaway oligarchs that are hiding in western Europe or in the Middle East. But I do not really believe in conspiracy theories and, quite frankly, I am not very worried about it. The stability of Russian statehood today allows us to look down at this from above.
Note well: He didn’t name a single one of the “enemies” responsible for attacking Russia, nor did he name a single specific measure his regime would take to protect journalists. And note that this question only comes from a foreigner. The Committee to Protect Journalists has just named Russia the most dangerous country not at war in the entire world for the practice of journalism. So much for Putin’s laughably dishonest statement that “the problem of the persecution of journalists is a very acute problem both for our country and for many other countries.” Russia stands alone in this regard. CPJ states: “Russia has the worst record of impunity among countries in the region. It is also the third deadliest country for journalists worldwide, according to Deadly News, a CPJ analysis of deaths over the past 15 years. Only Iraq, and Algeria when it was riven by civil war, outrank it.”
The word “Chechnya” was used only once, here:
SULTAN GALBATSOV (Democracy newspaper, Chechen Republic): In the Chechen Republic more than 70 percent of the available labour force is unemployed. In light of the positive results of the amnesty and the region’s importance, could you please tell us, Vladimir Vladimirovich, what measures are being foreseen to create new jobs? Thank you.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: First of all, I would like to point out that the present government and the Prime Minister of the Chechen Republic were able to accomplish a great deal lately. I watched how the present government worked in Chechnya attentively. I must say that what is happening there is even unexpected. We are witnessing the mobilization of citizens living in Chechnya and there is an obvious desire for a religious peace, to restore order, for discipline, the rule of law, and economic revival. And there are simply visible results of this effort. But of course we still have a lot that we can and must do. We have the corresponding programmes to develop the productive forces. I must say that today the Chechen Republic receives more from the federal budget than other regions in the Russian Federation, including regions in the Northern Caucasus. We intend to continue this policy in the future. I am not going to go into detail here because it would simply not be interesting for everyone (I know it involves a brick factory, cement, and so on). We are going to support what is called for, expedient and agreed upon with the federal authorities.
When he says “I must say that today the Chechen Republic receives more from the federal budget than other regions in the Russian Federation, including regions in the Northern Caucasus” he’s talking about money spent on security forces for the terrorizing of the Chechen population, not investment.
Photo credit: The cartoon of Vladimir Putin that accompanies this article comes from the website of American neo-Nazi David Duke. David is a big, big fan of DyaDya Vladimir. This is no doubt so because extremist crimes of racist violence are dramatically up in Russia under Putin.