Putin discussed different topics with heads of leading news agencies

Putin discussed different topics with heads of leading news agencies

Yesterday evening, Russian President Vladimir Putin has met with chief executives of the world’s leading news agencies on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF). During the meeting, he answered questions about many urgent issues of the international and domestic agenda.

"I am very pleased to see you all in such a representative composition. I mean those world news agencies that you represent ... There is no point in talking about the importance of your work, I hope that you will continue to strive for maximum objectivity in relation to Russia," RIA Novosti quotes him as saying.

Speaking about the economy, he noted a slight decline is expected this year, but it is already possible to say about a change in this trend. “We planned a small decline of the economy by the end of this year, but now we are observing growth. The growth in processing industries is 0.6 percent, in agriculture – 2.2 percent, and on the average – 0.5 percent. So we have certain successes, and we intend to keep moving along that path of diversification and attracting investment," he said, TASS reports.

At the same time, he acknowledged that there is a significant decrease of investments. "This is associated with the oil prices, because the profitability of energy business decreases in connection with the decline in oil prices, and significant investments of previous years were associated with oil, gas and energy and its infrastructure in general. So there is a direct connection," Putin said.

"Look at the investment programs of our major energy companies - how can they invest in the expansion of production, like they planned before, if the demand has decreased," he added.

During the meeting, they also discussed the cooperation between Russia and its European partners in the energy sector. The issue of the South Stream gas pipeline project was raised.

The Russian president expressed regret that the South Stream project was not implemented. According to him, Russia still wants a new pipeline route to export gas to southern Europe. "Of course we regret the fact that we were prevented from implementing the ‘South Stream.’ But I asked our colleagues today, why did you not fight for its existence before? The countries that were interested, Bulgaria, other states. They could have gone to the European Parliament," Putin said, Sputnik reports.

The South Stream gas pipeline was intended to traverse the Black Sea to deliver Russian natural gas through Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary and Slovenia to Italy and Austria to avoid exporting gas through the territory of Ukraine. The European Commission was against the implementation of the South Stream as the project was allegedly in breach of the EU third energy package, under which one and the same company cannot own the gas and operate the pipeline. On December 1, 2014, Putin announced that Russia would halt the implementation of the South Stream.

He also mentioned the Nord Stream gas pipeline project. "The International [Gas Transmission] Consortium proposed to continue the Nord Stream project and to construct the second pipeline, the Nord Stream 2. I should say that it is not an alternative to the South Stream. And it does not compete with anybody in this sense," Putin stated.

Speaking about the gas issues, he also spoke about the cooperation in this field with Turkey. "We did not stop deliveries to Turkey even for one day, despite all the difficulties. 'Blue Stream' is fully functioning through the Black Sea," he stressed.

A lot of attention was paid to the political issues of the international agenda.

In this regard, he stressed that Russia will give a decisive response to any hostile actions of the West.

Putin said Friday he believes using the anti-Russian card in the election campaign in the United States is counterproductive.

“It only remains to regret that the Russian card is used as some small coin nearly in each election campaign in the United States,” the Russian leader said at the meeting with the chief executives of the leading news agencies. “This, in my view, is absolutely counterproductive.”

He underscored that the Russian authorities will work with any newly elected president, TASS wrote.

The issue of the possibility of Britain’s secession from the European Union is up to the EU and Britain to decide, Putin said.

“This is the business of the European Union and the business of the people of Great Britain,” the Russian president said.

He said Russia should not be linked to the issue. “It seems to me that it is not very decent to fasten Russia to any problem, even one that we have no relation to,” Putin said. “Intellectual people do not behave like that.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin called unjust the decision on actual suspension of all Russian athletes from the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and said he hopes for a proper reaction on the part of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

“Of course it is unjust,” Putin said. He said responsibility for the use of doping should be personified, whereas the punishment of all Russian athletes “does not fit into any frames of civilized behavior.” “If a member of your family committed an offense, is it just to bring to account all family members, including you personally? It’s not done like that anywhere,” Putin said.

He underscored that people having nothing to do with violations should not “suffer for others.” “We are indignant ourselves when we face doping problems and we try to stop it ourselves, punish those guilty. But ‘clean’ athletes – why should they suffer?” Putin said. 

“I hope we will find some decision here as well. I hope we will talk to our colleagues in the anti-doping structure (WADA) as well and hope for a proper reaction on the part of the International Olympic Committee,” Putin said.

He underscored that the situation with the IAAF decision “does not mean we are going to get offended and say we won’t fight doping either. On the contrary, we will boost our fight against doping,” TASS quoted him as saying.

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