Putin to hold live question-and-answer session on Wednesday – Russian Politics & Diplomacy

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MOSCOW, June 30. / TASS /. Russian President Vladimir Putin will answer questions posed by residents of the country during his live question-and-answer session starting at noon on Wednesday.

This will be Putin’s 19th event in this format. He has already held 14 question-and-answer sessions as president and four as prime minister.

The event, titled “Direct Line to Vladimir Putin”, did not take place in its usual format last year. Due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, the question-and-answer session was merged with another major presidential event, the Grand Press Conference.

No unnecessary intermediaries

This year it was decided not to cancel or postpone the event. However, the format has been changed slightly to make it more secure for all participants. As Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, advanced technologies have made this possible.

In the traditional format, several locations are designated across the country, where citizens could meet and ask their questions. Film crews are sent to these areas.

This time, the number of journalists acting as intermediaries has been reduced to a minimum. However, all Russians still have the opportunity to ask a question directly to the President. Anyone can ask their questions via a special mobile application, which technologically allows to have an immediate video connection with the studio during the broadcast. Questions are also received via the show’s website, by SMS or MMS or by telephone.

“The slogan for this year’s hotline is ‘No unnecessary middlemen’,” the presidential spokesman told reporters.

At the same time, Peskov assured that Putin would engage in direct conversation with the Russians, as was the case in previous years.

The Russians keep sending their questions

Russian citizens actively send questions to Putin for his annual question-and-answer session, the Kremlin spokesman told reporters. “Citizen activity is traditionally very high. And there is enough work for those who sort through this batch of issues,” he said.

One in ten Russian nationals who know or have heard of the direct line to President Vladimir Putin on June 30, according to a survey by the Russian Center for Public Opinion Research, is considering asking him a question. “Ten percent of Russians plan to ask the president a question, three percent have already done so, while 85 percent have no such plans,” the pollster said.

As of Tuesday evening, the number of questions submitted to the president has already exceeded 714,000. More than half of them were received via a hotline, while a fifth were sent by SMS.

Questions can be submitted from noon local time on June 20 until the end of the program on June 30.

Acute questions

Some questions submitted to Putin are published on the website moskva-putinu.ru. According to the portal, Russians are most concerned about issues related to the social sphere and quality of life. Among the most pressing issues are the prices of food and air tickets, problems with social benefits and other payments, and issues related to mortgages.

Questions related to the pandemic will also be raised during the event. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Rossiya-24 television channel that it was difficult to establish the general trend regarding questions for the direct line with President Vladimir Putin, but the coronavirus is at the center attention this year. He specified that the questions received concerned vaccination, the end of the pandemic and its possible economic consequences.

According to Peskov, the Russian leader is likely to give a detailed answer on vaccination in Russia. The Kremlin spokesperson explained that the COVID-19 vaccination remains voluntary for the general public, and is only mandatory for certain professions.

Feel the pulse

As Peskov told reporters, Putin worked with questions and background material when preparing for the hotline. Apart from that, he held several meetings with Russian officials before the event.

On Monday, the president met with experts and officials from his administration. Tuesday’s meeting was attended by several Russian Deputy Prime Ministers and Minister of Finance Anton Siluanov.

According to the presidential spokesman, work on the issues submitted by the Russians continues even after the show ends. Some of them are managed by members and volunteers of the All-Russian Popular Front, while others are referred to governments and regional officials.

Tradition of the direct line

The very first “Direct Line with Vladimir Putin” took place at the end of 2001. Since then, this event takes place every year, except in 2004 and 2012.

Over 400,000 questions were submitted for the very first question-and-answer session. Over the following years, the number of requests varied between one and 1.5 million, reaching 2.3 million in 2006.

Their number has grown steadily since then, reaching a record 3.25 million requests in 2015. In recent years, their number has remained around 2 to 3 million.

The event continues as long as necessary, its duration is not predetermined. Rossiya-1, NTV and Channel One have tentatively reserved three hours for the live broadcast of the event.

The first five broadcasts were less than two hours each, but since 2007 the broadcast has always exceeded that duration. The 2013 show was the longest, taking 4 hours 47 minutes.


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