Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday held an annual event that’s somewhat unique to Russia referred to as a marathon call-in, which allows ordinary citizens to ask questions of their leader via a “direct line” telethon show lasting for hours.
Putin engaged in discussion on multiple pressing topics, perhaps the most interesting which was the question of his successor. Reuters and other US-based press agencies misleadingly characterized Putin as saying that “the time will come when I name my possible successor”.
This suggests that he spoke as if he’s a dynastic king or emperor or something, an image which Western pundits have long tended to blindly promote.
However, here’s how The Moscow Times more accurately translated the remarks:
“The decision regarding who should lead the Russian Federation should ultimately be up to the citizens. They exercise their freedom of choice through direct secret ballot voting. This is the only way,” Putin began.
That’s when he added:
“When the time comes, I hope I can say that such and such person, in my opinion, is worthy of leading such a wonderful country as our Motherland Russia.”
This of course is very different from the slew of misleading headlines saying he will be choosing or “naming” his successor. The whole question is also sensitive and fraught with controversy given last year’s Kremlin-approved drastic constitutional overhaul which theoretically gave Putin the ability to run for two more six-year terms if he desired. This could potentially see him stay in power all the way to 2036.
Another interesting topic broached during the public call-in event was the state of relations with the United States, coming off the summit with Joe Biden earlier this month.
“The world is changing and changing rapidly. No matter what sanctions are taken against Russia, no matter how they try to scare us, Russia is still developing, its economic ability and defense power is improving, in some respects even better than in the United States,” Putin said.
“Our partners in the United States on one hand understand this, but on the other hand, they are still trying to preserve their monopoly position at all costs, and that’s where the threats and destructive behavior with exercises, provocations and sanctions stems from. It’s not up to us, it’s up to them. I hope that the realization that the world is changing will lead them to revisit their values,” he explained while discussing Russia’s response to the sanctions.