In a 3.5 hour annual press conference, Russian leader Vladimir Putin wasn’t breaking into a sweat over anything, really, even the economy. Whatever is broken will be fixed and in any case, it is the fault of the West, as reported by Bloomberg. Concerning Ukraine, Putin said it should be unified and peaceful (although the means are ambiguous). Despite the ruble tumbling to its lowest level since the financial crisis of 1998 and the Russian Central bank raising interest rates by a huge amount, Putin denied that this was a crisis at all, and thinks it could be on the mend in a couple of years.
Putin compared Russia to a bear that refused to sit quietly and eat its honey while its enemies were busy tearing out its teeth and claws. He advised people to stop drinking Coca-Cola and switch to Kvas, a Russian beverage made from fermented bread. When asked about his love life, he said, “I’m fine” and praised the Soviet policy of presenting a “Mother Hero of Russia” award to women who have many children.
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He dodged questions, which wasn’t difficult, because no one asking showed any kind of aggressiveness. There was a sense that if a journalist was too intent on a clear answer, he or she might go missing mysteriously. One journalist did get a bit uppity and asked Putin bout his billionaire friend, particularly Igor Sechin, head of nationally owned Rosneft. Putin claimed he had no idea how much Sechin makes, and called him an “effective manager.”