President Putin’s 4th March 2014 Speech on Ukraine in English

The President of Russia met with media representatives to answer a number of their questions, in particular with regard to the situation in Ukraine.

PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA VLADIMIR PUTIN: Good afternoon, colleagues,

How shall we do this? This is what I’d like to suggest: let’s have a conversation, rather than an interview. Therefore, I would ask you to begin by stating all your questions, I will jot them down and try to answer them, and then we will have a more detailed discussion of the specifics that interest you most.

Let’s begin.

QUESTION: Mr President, I would like to ask (you took a lengthy pause, so we have quite a few questions by now) how you assess the events in Kiev? Do you think that the Government and the Acting President, who are currently in power in Kiev, are legitimate? Are you ready to communicate with them, and on what terms? Do you yourself think it possible now to return to the agreements of February 21, which we all talk about so often?

QUESTION: Mr President, Russia has promised financial aid to Crimea and instructions were issued to the Finance Ministry yesterday. Is there a clear understanding of how much we are giving, where the money is coming from, on what terms and when? The situation there is very difficult.

QUESTION: When, on what terms and in what scope can military force be used in Ukraine? To what extent does this comply with Russia’s international agreements? Did the military exercises that have just finished have anything to do with the possible use of force?

QUESTION: We would like to know more about Crimea. Do you think that the provocations are over or that there remains a threat to the Russian citizens who are now in Crimea and to the Russian-speaking population? What are the general dynamics there – is the situation changing for the better or for the worse? We are hearing different reports from there.

QUESTION: If you do decide to use force, have you thought through all the possible risks for yourself, for the country and for the world: economic sanctions, weakened global security, a possible visa ban or greater isolation for Russia, as western politicians are demanding?

QUESTION: Yesterday the Russian stock market fell sharply in response to the Federation Council’s vote, and the ruble exchange rates hit record lows. Did you expect such a reaction? What do you think are the possible consequences for the economy? Is there a need for any special measures now, and of what kind? For instance, do you think the Central Bank’s decision to shift to a floating ruble exchange rate may have been premature? Do you think it should be revoked?

Putin March 2014

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Fine, let us stop here for now. I will begin, and then we will continue. Don’t worry; I will try to answer as many questions as possible.

First of all, my assessment of what happened in Kiev and in Ukraine in general. There can only be one assessment: this was an anti-constitutional takeover, an armed seizure of power. Does anyone question this? Nobody does. There is a question here that neither I, nor my colleagues, with whom I have been discussing the situation in Ukraine a great deal over these past days, as you know – none of us can answer. The question is why was this done?

I would like to draw your attention to the fact that President Yanukovych, through the mediation of the Foreign Ministers of three European countries – Poland, Germany and France – and in the presence of my representative (this was the Russian Human Rights Commissioner Vladimir Lukin) signed an agreement with the opposition on February 21. I would like to stress that under that agreement (I am not saying this was good or bad, just stating the fact) Mr Yanukovych actually handed over power. He agreed to all the opposition’s demands: he agreed to early parliamentary elections, to early presidential elections, and to return to the 2004 Constitution, as demanded by the opposition. He gave a positive response to our request, the request of western countries and, first of all, of the opposition not to use force. He did not issue a single illegal order to shoot at the poor demonstrators. Moreover, he issued orders to withdraw all police forces from the capital, and they complied. He went to Kharkov to attend an event, and as soon as he left, instead of releasing the occupied administrative buildings, they immediately occupied the President’s residence and the Government building – all that instead of acting on the agreement.

I ask myself, what was the purpose of all this? I want to understand why this was done. He had in fact given up his power already, and as I believe, as I told him, he had no chance of being re-elected. Everybody agrees on this, everyone I have been speaking to on the telephone these past few days. What was the purpose of all those illegal, unconstitutional actions, why did they have to create this chaos in the country? Armed and masked militants are still roaming the streets of Kiev. This is a question to which there is no answer. Did they wish to humiliate someone and show their power? I think these actions are absolutely foolish. The result is the absolute opposite of what they expected, because their actions have significantly destabilised the east and southeast of Ukraine.

Now over to how this situation came about.

In my opinion, this revolutionary situation has been brewing for a long time, since the first days of Ukraine’s independence.  The ordinary Ukrainian citizen, the ordinary guy suffered during the rule of Nicholas II, during the reign of Kuchma, and Yushchenko, and Yanukovych. Nothing or almost nothing has changed for the better. Corruption has reached dimensions that are unheard of here in Russia. Accumulation of wealth and social stratification – problems that are also acute in this country – are much worse in Ukraine, radically worse. Out there, they are beyond anything we can imagine imagination. Generally, people wanted change, but one should not support illegal change.

Only use constitutional means should be used on the post-Soviet space, where political structures are still very fragile, and economies are still weak. Going beyond the constitutional field would always be a cardinal mistake in such a situation.  Incidentally, I understand those people on Maidan, though I do not support this kind of turnover. I understand the people on Maidan who are calling for radical change rather than some cosmetic remodelling of power. Why are they demanding this? Because they have grown used to seeing one set of thieves being replaced by another. Moreover, the people in the regions do not even participate in forming their own regional governments. There was a period in this country when the President appointed regional leaders, but then the local Council had to approve them, while in Ukraine they are appointed directly. We have now moved on to elections, while they are nowhere near this. And they began appointing all sorts of oligarchs and billionaires to govern the eastern regions of the country. No wonder the people do not accept this, no wonder they think that as a result of dishonest privatisation (just as many people think here as well) people have become rich and now they also have all the power.

For example, Mr Kolomoisky was appointed Governor of Dnepropetrovsk. This is a unique crook. He even managed to cheat our oligarch Roman Abramovich two or three years ago.  Scammed him, as our intellectuals like to say. They signed some deal, Abramovich transferred several billion dollars, while this guy never delivered and pocketed the money. When I asked him [Abramovich]: “Why did you do it?” he said: “I never thought this was possible.” I do not know, by the way, if he ever got his money back and if the deal was closed.  But this really did happen a couple of years ago. And now this crook is appointed Governor of Dnepropetrovsk. No wonder the people are dissatisfied. They were dissatisfied and will remain so if those who refer to themselves the legitimate authorities continue in the same fashion.

Most importantly, people should have the right to determine their own future, that of their families and of their region, and to have equal participation in it. I would like to stress this: wherever a person lives, whatever part of the country, he or she should have the right to equal participation in determining the future of the country.

Are the current authorities legitimate? The Parliament is partially, but all the others are not. The current Acting President is definitely not legitimate. There is only one legitimate President, from a legal standpoint. Clearly, he has no power. However, as I have already said, and will repeat: Yanukovych is the only undoubtedly legitimate President.

There are three ways of removing a President under Ukrainian law: one is his death, the other is when he personally stands down, and the third is impeachment. The latter is a well-deliberated constitutional norm. It has to involve the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court and the Rada. This is a complicated and lengthy procedure. It was not carried out.  Therefore, from a legal perspective this is an undisputed fact.

Moreover, I think this may be why they disbanded the Constitutional Court, which runs counter to all legal norms of both Ukraine and Europe. They not only disbanded the Constitutional Court in an illegitimate fashion, but they also – just think about it – instructed the Prosecutor General’s Office to launch criminal proceedings against members of the Constitutional Court. What is that all about? Is this what they call free justice? How can you instruct anyone to start criminal proceedings? If a crime, a criminal offence, has been committed, the law enforcement agencies see this and react. But instructing them to file criminal charges is nonsense, it’s monkey business.

Now about financial aid to Crimea. As you may know, we have decided to organise work in the Russian regions to aid Crimea, which has turned to us for humanitarian support. We will provide it, of course. I cannot say how much, when or how – the Government is working on this, by bringing together the regions bordering on Crimea, by providing additional support to our regions so they could help the people in Crimea. We will do it, of course.

Regarding the deployment of troops, the use of armed forces.  So far, there is no need for it, but the possibility remains. I would like to say here that the military exercises we recently held had nothing to do with the events in Ukraine.  This was pre-planned, but we did not disclose these plans, naturally, because this was a snap inspection of the forces’ combat readiness. We planned this a long time ago, the Defence Minister reported to me and I had the order ready to begin the exercise. As you may know, the exercises are over; I gave the order for the troops to return to their regular dislocations yesterday.

What can serve as a reason to use the Armed Forces? Such a measure would certainly be the very last resort.

First, about the legitimacy. As you know, we have a direct appeal of the current and legitimate, as I said, the Ukrainian President Yanukovych on the use of the Armed Forces for the protection of life, liberty, and the health of the citizens of Ukraine.

What worries us the most? We see rampant neo-nationalists, anti-Semites, which is happening in some parts of Ukraine, including Kiev. What do you say, the media are seen for sure, as one of the current governors chains, handcuffs chained to the square there are some structures, in winter, in the cold, poured water. After that, incidentally, was imprisoned in his basement and there is still tortured. What is this? Is that – is democracy? This is a manifestation of democracy? Incidentally, he was appointed recently as December, in my opinion. Even if we assume that all the corrupt government there, I think he even steal something did not have time.

And when seized the building of the Party of Regions? You know what happened? There was nobody from the party somewhere. Went two-three staff, technical staff, and one engineer said the attackers: “Guys, we release the women miss, please. I – an engineer, I do not even have nothing to do with politics. ” He was immediately shot to the front of the crowd. The second person of the same technical staff were herded into a basement and pelted with bottles of “Molotov cocktails” and burned alive. It is also a manifestation of democracy?

And when we see it, then we understand that worried citizens of Ukraine – and Russian, Ukrainians, generally speaking population living in the eastern and southern regions of Ukraine. What worries them? They are concerned about here is a mess. And if we see that this disorder begins in the eastern regions, if people asked us for help, and a formal appeal of the current legitimate president we already have, we reserve the right to use all means at our disposal to protect these citizens. And we think that it is quite legitimate. This is an extreme measure.

And more. I want to tell you what we thought, and believe we will assume that Ukraine – not only our closest neighbor, and really our brotherly neighboring republic. And our armed forces – this comrades in arms, friends, many of them know each other personally. And I’m sure, and I want to emphasize here is, I’m sure that Ukrainian and Russian military servicemen are not on opposite sides, and on the same side.

Incidentally, that’s about the very thing I’m talking about now, this unity occurs in the Crimea. After all, note, thank God, there is not a single shot and no victims except the hustle on the area that happened there a week ago, I think. But what happened there? People came and blocked the armed units, units of the armed forces and agreed with them that they must obey the demands and wishes of the people living in the area. There was no skirmish, never got shot, no shot.

Thus, the tense situation in the Crimea, associated with the possible use of the Armed Forces, she was just exhausted, this was not necessary. Only what need was and what we were doing, we have strengthened protection of our military facilities because they received threats all the time, and we saw that in the Crimea has tightened boevichki of nationalist organizations. We’ve done that and done correctly and on time. Therefore proceed from the fact that we in eastern Ukraine and anything like that is not necessary.

But once again I would like to emphasize. Of course, what I am about to say, it is not included in my jurisdiction, and we are not going to interfere. But we believe that all citizens of Ukraine, I repeat, no matter where they lived, should be granted the same rights to participate in the life of the country and in determining the future of this country.

I would place those who consider themselves the legitimate authority, hastened to the relevant procedures, because of the national mandate for domestic, foreign, economic policy, and especially the definition of the future of Ukraine they do not.

Markets. As for the markets, as you know, the markets showed some nervousness before the events in Ukraine, before they escalate. This is primarily due to the U.S. Federal Reserve policy, which took certain decisions that made investments in the U.S. economy itself is quite attractive, and emerging market investors began to withdraw money, in fact, the American market. This general trend is in no way connected with Ukraine. India suffered the most, in my opinion, and the other BRICS countries. Russia – too. Slightly smaller than, say, in India, but also. That is the fundamental reason.

With regard to the events in Ukraine, yes, politics anyway always affects the markets, money loves peace, tranquility and stability. But it seems to me that this is a tactical, temporary and temporary effect.

Please.

QUESTION: Vladimir Vladimirovich, please tell me you expect a tough response to Russia’s actions with its Western partners? Could you tell us about the details of your conversations with Western partners, because as soon as the press service was? And Summit “eight” in Sochi will or not, do you think?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Regarding the expected reaction, whether “eight” and talk about. Our conversations are confidential, and some are even on closed lines. So I do not feel entitled to disclose that we were discussing with their partners. But I refer to some public statements of their colleagues from Western countries and, without mentioning names, comment on them altogether.

What we pay attention? We are often accused of illegitimacy of our actions, and when I asked the question: “Do you think that all you have is legitimate?” – They say, “Yes.” Action is necessary to remind the United States in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, where they acted either without any UN Security Council sanctions, or distorted the content of these resolutions, as it was in Libya. There are known to be spelled was only able to close the sky to fly government aircraft, and all over the bombing and Special Forces participation in ground operations.

Our partners, especially the United States, always clear for themselves clearly articulate their geopolitical and national interests, pursue them very aggressively, and then, guided by the well-known phrase: “Who is not with us is against us” – drags the rest for themselves world. And who does not drag up, it started as soon bale, and in the end, usually dotyukivayut.

We proceed from the other, we proceed from the fact that we act solely legitimate. And I am always advocated respect for international law. Once again I want to emphasize that we believe that even if we make a decision if I will make a decision on the use of the Armed Forces, it will be legitimate, fully compliant and general international law, as we have a legitimate president of circulation, and consistent with our obligations in this case coincides with our interests to protect those people, whom we consider closely related to us both historically and in terms of the general culture, closely linked economically. This is consistent with our national interests – to protect these people.And this is a humanitarian mission. We do not pretend to enslave someone, someone to dictate anything. But, of course, we can not stay away, if we see that they begin to pursue, destroy, expose abuse. I would very much like to see it did not come.

QUESTION: How do you assess the West’s reaction to the events in Ukraine and threats against Russia: some sanctions threaten us and out of the “eight”?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Regarding sanctions. The consequences of these sanctions should first think of those who is going to introduce them. I think that in today’s world when everything is interconnected and all depend on each other anyway, of course, can cause some damage to each other, but it will be mutual damage, and this, too, need to think. This is the first.

Second, and this is, in fact, the most important thing. I have already said about our motives. And the motives of our partners, what are the? They supported the unconstitutional coup and armed seizure of power, these people declared legitimate and try to support them. Incidentally, we are in this case full of patience and even a willingness to cooperate, we do not want to interrupt your cooperation. As you know, a few days ago, I instructed the Government to consider how you can continue to contact even with those authorities in Kiev, which we do not think is quite legitimate, in order to maintain cooperation in the sphere of economy and industry. We believe our actions are fully justified, and any threats to Russia – counterproductive and harmful.

As for the “G”, I do not know. We are preparing for “eight”, will be ready to accept at our colleagues. If they do not want to come – well, do not.

QUESTION: Let me add just about contacts. I understand that you think the prime minister of Crimea Aksenov legitimate representative government. And if you’re ready for any contacts with those who are now in Kiev considers himself the legitimate authority?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I just said. You probably would not hear.

QUESTION: I mean, you just at the top level for a political solution.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: And at the highest level I do not have a partner there. There’s no president. And there can not be before the general election.

With regard to the Crimea, of course, the Crimean parliament was formed in 2010, if my memory serves me, somewhere in December 2010. It consists of 100 members, there are six parties represented. And after the previous prime minister resigned, the Crimean parliament in accordance with the procedures and the law at the Supreme Council of Crimea elected a new prime minister. Of course, it is legitimate. There followed all the procedures prescribed by law, there is no violation. But when a few days ago, a group of armed men attempted to seize the building of the Supreme Council of Crimea, it certainly has caused great concern among themselves Crimeans. The impression that want to put Crimea, Kyiv scenario and start there a series of bombings and chaos.Of course, it is very concerned about the Crimeans. That is why they created a self-defense committees and took control of all armed forces.

Incidentally, when I last looked a certificate that they took there, it’s a sort of fortified. There are several dozen units “S-300” several dozen “Bukov” 22,000 troops and so-so service. But, thank God, all this is now, as I have said, without a single shot is in the hands of the people of Crimea.

QUESTION: Vladimir Vladimirovich, you can clarify? People who carried out the blocking parts of the Ukrainian army in the Crimea – in a form very similar to the Russian military form. They were Russian soldiers, it was the Russian military?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: And you look at the post-Soviet space. It’s full form, which is similar to the shape of … Go to shop with us, and you buy there any form.

QUESTION: But they were Russian soldiers or not?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: It was a local self-defense forces.

QUESTION: So well prepared? Simply if we compare it with the self-defense forces in Kiev …

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Dear colleague, look how well prepared were the people who were active in Kyiv. They are known to be prepared for the corresponding bases in the neighboring territories in Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine itself too. Trained instructors, prepared for a long time. They have already broken into dozens to hundreds, are organized, with good communication systems. Everything works like clockwork. You’ve seen how they work?Absolutely professional as commandos. Why do you think that in the Crimea should be worse?

QUESTION: You can then specify a question? Have we participated in the preparation of self-defense forces of the Crimea?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: No, do not take.

QUESTION: And how do you imagine the future of the Crimea? And consider whether the version of his accession to Russia?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: No, not considered. And I do believe that only citizens residing in a given territory, in conditions of freedom of expression, in safety can and must determine their own future. And if it was allowed to, say, make the Kosovars Kosovo Albanians, if it was allowed to do at all in many parts of the world, the right of nations to self-determination, as enshrined, as far as I know, and in the relevant UN documents, has not been canceled. But we are in no event will not provoke any such decisions, and in any case will not warm up such sentiments.

I want to emphasize, I believe that only the citizens who live in certain areas, have the right to determine their own destiny.

QUESTION: Two questions. You call an extreme measure the ability to enter troops on the territory of Ukraine, but yet you do not completely exclude. But in this case, if the troops are introduced, can start a war. Are you concerned?

And the second question. You say that Yanukovych did not give the order to shoot people. But someone shooting at protesters. And it is clear that these were snipers, they were trained snipers.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: And you know that now there is an opinion, including among the protesters recently, it was one of the instigators of the opposition parties. Have you heard about this?

RESPONSE: No, I did not hear about it.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Here’s a look at these materials. They are in the public domain. Therefore, there is now very difficult to understand. But we are perfectly seen when fighters “Berkut” stood with shields, and they do not shoot from the air, and of military weapons prostrelivaya them through. That’s what we just saw. And who gave the orders mutual, I do not know. I only know what I said Yanukovych. And he told me that he did not give such orders and, moreover, instructed – after signing the agreement – even withdraw all police forces from the capital.

If you want, I can tell you even more. He called me on the phone and I told him that he did not. I say, “Do you come anarchy, chaos will come in the capital. Pity the people. ” But he did it anyway. And as soon as he did so and took his office, and the government, and just started the chaos from which I warned him that continues to this day.

QUESTION: And the answer to the first question. What could be a war, it does not bother you?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I do not care, because we are not going to and will not fight with the Ukrainian people.

QUESTION: But the Ukrainian troops there, the army is Ukrainian.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Listen carefully. I want you to understand me clearly, if we accept such a solution – only for the protection of Ukrainian citizens. And even if someone tries from the military to shoot their people, for whom we stand behind, not in front and rear. Let them try to shoot at women and children! And I look at those who give such an order in Ukraine.

QUESTION: You can question, Vladimir Vladimirovich.? Our colleagues, my colleagues, who are now working in Ukraine, almost every day say (this applies to the “Berkut”, except, perhaps, the Crimea), the situation is only getting worse around the employees of “Berkut”. In particular, in Kiev, there are affected employees who are now in the hospital, they are not something that is not treated, they are not even fed. And there is also the family and the elderly who live in the dorm, they just can not get out of the house because they just do not give around barricades are, they are humiliated. Can you comment? And whether Russia can help these families and employees?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Yes, it’s very disturbing question us. After all, it’s not employees of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs, and we headed there situation. But from a purely humanitarian considerations would be correct if our human rights organizations, by the way, maybe ask the same Vladimir Petrovich Lukin, or one, or with colleagues, with whom he participated in the development of the famous document of 21 February of the current year with the representatives of France, Germany and Poland, that they still went to the scene, saw what was happening with these employees “Berkut”, which violated nothing, and acted in accordance with the order. They are soldiers, stood there under the bullets, they doused the fire, “Molotov cocktails” were thrown. Now they are wounded, lying in the hospital. Generally it is difficult to even imagine. We even captured during the war fed and treated. And they not only treat stopped, stopped to feed them. And surrounded the building where their relatives there over them bullied. I think that human rights organizations should pay attention to it. Well, we, for our part, are ready to take them for treatment in Russia, please.

QUESTION: Vladimir Vladimirovich, returning to the West’s reaction, the Federation Council has offered you in response to a strong statement of U.S. State Secretary to withdraw our ambassador from the United States. Go for it?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Secretary of State, of course, an important man. But this is not the ultimate authority, which defines the foreign policy of the United States. We see the statements of various politicians and representatives of various political forces. This is an extreme measure. If need be, and it will be used. But I would not like, because I think that, in cooperation at the international level in the field of economy, politics, international security is not only interested with their Russian partners, but our partners are interested in working with us. Very easy to destroy these collaboration tools and is very difficult to recreate them.

QUESTION: Russia took part in the fate of Yanukovych. How do you see its future role, its fate?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: You know, it is very difficult to say this, I have carefully analyzed. I think that the political future he does not, I told him so. And what is “participated in destiny” – we did it too on humanitarian considerations. I think, bearing in mind that death – is the easiest to get rid of the legitimate president, that it would have happened. I think it would just probably killed. Incidentally, the question arises: Why?

After all, note that started with all this commotion that was the trigger. Served formally that he had not signed an agreement with the European Union Association. Today it looks like some sort of nonsense about it even ridiculous to say. What I want to draw your attention? After all, he did not refuse to sign an association agreement. He said, we estimate it as follows, and is content that is not consistent with our national interests. We can not dramatically increase energy prices for the population, because our population and so in a rather difficult situation. We can not do that this, the fifth, tenth, can not break on live our economic ties with Russia, because we have a very large cooperation.

I have already said, these figures are: 14 billion of exports are roughly about $ 5 billion in direct production Russia second, third conversion. That is all the machinery in Russia is practically nothing takes the West Ukrainian. And here is to take a break, enter into the Ukrainian economy European technical standards by which we are, thank God, do not work, or not, thank God, we come ever to these standards, but today we do not have in Russia, these standards . This means that the next day will break the relationship and cooperation ties, businesses will rise, unemployment will rise. And what did he say? “I can not do so sharply, let’s discuss further.” He did not refuse to sign, he asked for the possibility of further poobsuzhdat this document and immediately began this orgy.

And what did he not acted within its competence? He acted completely within its competence, nothing broke. It was just an excuse for him to support the opposition forces in the struggle for power. In general, and this is nothing special. But unless it was possible to bring anarchy to an unconstitutional coup and seize power by force of arms, then to plunge the country into a chaos in which she is now? I think that this is unacceptable. And our Western partners do it in Ukraine is not the first time. I sometimes get the impression that there is a big puddle for sitting somewhere in America some lab employees and how the rats performed some experiments, not realizing the consequences of what they do. Why was it necessary to do it here? Who can explain it? Explanation, absolutely no.

The same in the days of the first Maidana when the same Yanukovych was barred from power. Well, why it was necessary to hold third round of elections? That is turned into a farce – the political life of Ukraine turned into a farce. Generally no Constitution without complying. You see, we accustom people to the fact that if someone can break all, this right belongs to everyone else, and the chaos begins. That is the danger. And still need to educate our society on the other traditions: the tradition of respect for the fundamental law of the country, the Constitution and all other laws. Of course, all this is not always succeed, but that’s the way to act – as the elephant in the room – I think, counterproductive and very dangerous.

Please.

QUESTION: Vladimir Vladimirovich, Turchinov illegitimate, from your point of view.

VLADIMIR PUTIN : As president – yes.

QUESTION: And I’m glad – partially legitimate.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Yes.

QUESTION: Does Yatsenuk legitimate and the government? And if Russia is concerned about growing radical elements, they are often worse when find themselves faced with a simulated enemy, which for them, from their point of view, of course, is now Russia and the Russian position that we are ready to send troops. From this question: Does it make sense and is it possible to negotiate and talk with the moderate forces in the Ukrainian government, again with Yatsenyuk, and whether it is legitimate?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Look, you do not seem to hear what I was saying. I said three days ago I ordered the government to resume contacts at the governmental level with colleagues in the relevant ministries and departments of Ukraine, in order not to break economic ties, to support them in their quest to restore the economy.That’s a direct order to the Government. Moreover, and Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev in contact with Yatsenuk.And Naryshkin as Speaker of the Parliament, I know, in contact with Turchinov. But, I repeat, all our trade, economic and other humanitarian ties can be developed in the full format only after normalcy and presidential elections will be held.

QUESTION: Gazprom has already said that he was returning to the old gas prices since April.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Gazprom could not say so, you listened attentively he or inaccurately expressed. Gazprom does not revert to the old prices, he does not want to extend the current discounts, which was an agreement to enter or not to enter them on a quarterly basis. Before all of these events to the acute phases of these events. I know about the negotiations with partners Gazprom, Gazprom agreed and the Government of the Russian Federation agreed that Gazprom enters discount to 268.5 dollars per thousand cubic meters, the Russian Government gives the first tranche of the loan, it is not formally a loan and buy bonds – quasi-loan, the first stage 3 billion. A Ukrainian party undertakes to repay the entire debt, which arose in the second half of last year, and regularly pay current payments for consumed product – for consumed gas. The debt is not repaid, the current full payments are not paid.

Moreover, if the Ukrainian partner does not pay for February, even then the debt increase. Today he is somewhere 1.5 – 1.6 billion (dollars). And if not fully pay for February, it will be almost $ 2 billion. Naturally, in these circumstances, Gazprom says, “Listen, guys, if you we still do not pay bills, and we fix only the rising debt, so let’s better we will fix the normal price, and at a reduced”. This is purely a commercial component of Gazprom’s activities, which in its investment plans, as well as in any large company, there are profitable parts and consumables, and it is scheduled. If they just do not get money from the Ukrainian partners, then they undercut their own investment, for them it is a real problem. And this, incidentally, is not associated with the events in Ukraine, with any policy. An agreement was: “We will – money and reducing gas, and you – payments, but regularly.” Money given gas reduced costs, and no payments. Well, naturally, Gazprom says: “Guys, this will not work.”

QUESTION: Vladimir Vladimirovich, the press service Merkel after your telephone conversation said that you have consented to the direction of some of the international fact-finding mission and the creation of some of the contact group.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I said that we have specially trained people who have competence to consider this issue and discuss it with their German colleagues. In general, it is possible. I gave instructions to our Minister of Foreign Affairs, who, in my opinion, today or tomorrow or yesterday had to meet, or met with Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany, Mr. Steinmeier, and will discuss this issue.

QUESTION: It’s clear that most attention is focused on the Crimea. But we’ll see what happens in other regions of Ukraine in the east, to the south. See what is happening in Kharkiv, Donetsk, Lugansk, Odessa. There people raise Russian flag over government buildings, calling for Russia to help, ask for support. Russia is to react to what is happening?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: And you think that we have no reaction? Only, in my opinion, it is now an hour discussing this reaction. But in some cases, for me what happens is unexpected. Now I will not say that specifically mean, but such a reaction, in principle, it is expected. And our partners in the West, and those who call themselves authorities in Kiev today, that they do not forecast that this will happen? I said it a thousand times already, why you split the country, what are you doing? No, still twig borer, they say. Of course, people who live in the eastern part, they understand that they are for a decision threshold were.

By and large, it is necessary to adopt a new constitution and hold it in a referendum so that all citizens of Ukraine felt they complicity in this process, influence the formation of the basic principles of their state apparatus. But it certainly is not our business. This should solve the Ukrainians and the Ukrainian authorities themselves, anyway. I think that after the formation of the legitimate authorities, after being elected president, election of a new parliament, which had been scheduled, probably, it’s all going to happen, I would have them returned to the place to adopt the Constitution, and, I repeat, in a referendum, so that all people decided, voted, and then we must all perform. And if someone will feel that he was behind the process, he never disagrees and will always fight it. Well, why should they? I repeat, it is not our business.

QUESTION: But the planned presidential elections, Russia recognizes that will take place in Ukraine?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: It depends on how they will be held. If will be held here at the same terror, which we are now seeing in Kiev, do not recognize.

QUESTION: I am again about the reaction of the West. Here against such harsh rhetoric we recently Paralympics in Sochi is to be opened. Will not she, in fact, on the verge of collapse, at least in the international information space?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I do not know, I think it would be the height of cynicism – subjected to some kind of danger now carrying the Paralympic Games. We all know what it is – it is a forum, an international sports forum, where people with disabilities can manifest themselves, to prove to himself and to the world that they are in fact, as it is now often said, people without any restrictions, and on the contrary, they have unlimited opportunities to demonstrate their achievements in this sport. If someone tries to disrupt, it means only one thing – that people who take or may take such attempts, nothing is sacred.  

QUESTION: Question about the hypothetical possibility of using troops. From the West, are the claims that in the case of such a decision Russia, Russia violates the Budapest Treaty, according to which in exchange for abandoning nuclear weapons security, territorial integrity of Ukraine guarantees the U.S. and some NATO partners. In the event of such a development is possible if intervention here in this local conflict of global players, thus escalating the conflict into a global phase, assess whether you are the risks?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: We are before you say something publicly, much less something done in practical terms, how we should think and try to predict all the consequences and reactions of all possible players.

With respect to those agreements, which you said you represent “Reuters”, huh?

REPLY: Yes.

VLADIMIR PUTIN:   This is how you do the public, political circles assess the events? But it is clear that it is armed seizure of power, right? Obvious. And it is clear that this is done contrary to the Constitution. This is an obvious fact, is not it? Well, the truth.

REPLY: I live in Russia.

VV PUTIN: Well done. You must take the diplomatic service. Of you will make a good diplomat. And the language of diplomacy, as it is known, is given in order to conceal his thoughts. So, when we point out that it is unconstitutional coup, we say “No!” And you probably heard it many times: “It is not anti-constitutional coup, it is not armed seizure of power. This – the revolution! “So?

REPLY: Yes.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Yes. And if it is a revolution, what does it mean? Then I can not but agree with some of our experts, who believe that in this area there is a new state. Just as it was after the collapse of the Russian Empire, after 1917, there is a new state. And with that State and in respect of the state, we have not signed binding documents.

QUESTION: First, I wanted to clarify. You said that if will be introduced from the U.S. sanctions, it will cause damage to both economies. Does this mean or imply Does this mean that Russia, too, can enter their any retaliatory sanctions, and this response is symmetrical?

And you talked about discounts on gas. But still we remember the agreement on $ 15 billion for the purchase of bonds of Ukraine. The first tranche is already there, at the end of last year. Allocation of the remaining funds are not frozen? Or on what you specifically economic and political conditions, which you political and economic risks in laying the case will provide help?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I will answer your question. In principle, we would be prepared to consider further steps to provide other tranches, repurchase, redemption of additional bonds. But our Western partners have asked us not to do so, they ask us to work together within the framework of the IMF in order to encourage the Government of Ukraine, the Ukrainian authorities to undertake the necessary reforms for economic recovery. But in this way we are going to work on, but given the fact that Naftogaz pays Gazprom, the Government is now studying various options.

QUESTION: Vladimir Vladimirovich, the dynamics of the situation for the better or for the worse with Ukraine?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: In general, nevertheless, it seems to me that it is aligned gradually. We need to be sure to send a signal to the people who live in the south-east of Ukraine, they should feel “a” – safe and “b” – participants of a general political stabilization process in the country.

QUESTION: You talked all the time, several times mentioned on the future of legitimate elections in Ukraine, that’s who you still see as a compromise candidate? It is clear that you say, the people of Ukraine should choose for myself, but all the same?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I you honestly say, I can not even imagine.

REPLY: It seems that people are not too, because whoever spoke, all in confusion.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I can not say. You know, after such events is very difficult to predict anything. I have already said that with all my rejection of this method of coming to power and bias current government and the current president, I strongly disagree with this form, and in general, and for Ukraine, and the former Soviet Union as a whole, in particular. Why? Because, once again this idea, it is not legal culture instills. And if anyone is allowed to act so that means that all that is allowed. And that means chaos. See, it’s the worst thing that can be for countries with fragile economies and stable political system. But in these circumstances, can jump anyone. You remember how Rem units operated at a time when Hitler was eager to power. Then these units Rem nullified and destroyed, in fact. But they played a role in Hitler’s accession to power. May be the most unexpected options.

And, I repeat, in an environment where people are rightly, I want to emphasize, and in this I agree with the Maidan – rightly require radical changes in politics and bring new, totally fresh people in the upper echelons of power, there is a danger that, as the devil the-box, can jump any natsionalyuga, polufashistvuyuschy element – and we see that there people walking around with bandages still, in Kiev, resembling a swastika – some anti-Semite, this danger also exists.

QUESTION: Just for today, by the way, Ukraine’s permanent representative to the UN said that the crimes were falsified Banderivtsy Soviet Union. May 9 close enough already, here we see just who are now in power. You can contact with them at all?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Contact the need with all but obvious criminals, but in such circumstances, I repeat, there is a danger that someone will slip, with people already quite extreme views, which, of course, will have dire consequences for the country.

QUESTION: You said that you need to communicate with everyone. Yulia Tymoshenko on days like as saying that he was going to Moscow.  

VLADIMIR PUTIN: You know that we have always worked quite successfully with the authorities of Ukraine quite different political views: Leonid Danilovich and worked and worked with Yushchenko. And I, as Prime Minister of the Russian Federation has worked with Tymoshenko: I went to her, she came to Russia. There were different situations related to the implementation of joint activities in the economies of the leadership, and the debates were, and arrangements were. But it was generally constructive work. If she wants to come to Russia, let them come. But today she – not the prime minister. In what capacity it will arrive? But to prevent it arrived in Russia, I personally do not intend to.

QUESTION: One little short question: who do you think is behind this organization’s coup, as you put it, in the Ukraine?

VLADIMIR PUTIN:   I have already said, I believe that it is all very well prepared. Sure, there were militias, they still have, and we have seen how they work effectively. And in this sense, of course, there is the Western instructors tried. But it’s not that. If power was strong, confident, stable, then no nationalists would not be able to make those pogroms and achieve the result that we now see.

The problem is that none of the past governments did not think properly about the needs of people. And we have a lot of problems in Russia, we have a lot of problems are very similar, but they are not as sharp as there. Look, the average income per capita in Russia 29 700 rubles, and in Ukraine, if you compare rubles, 11 900, in my opinion.Almost three times less. We have an average pension 10700, and in Ukraine – 5,5 thousand rubles. In less than two times. A World War II veterans we generally get almost the average wage of workers. That is a very significant difference in the standard of living. That’s what I had to think from the very beginning. And of course, it would be necessary to fight banditry against nepotism, nepotism, especially in the economy. People see all this, and it causes a mistrust of authority.

That’s all for several generations, I want to emphasize the modern Ukrainian politicians led to the fact that people are frustrated and want to see a completely new design and new, fresh faces in government. Here it is – the basic nutrient base of what happened. But again, the change of power is needed, perhaps, to all appearances, she really needed the Ukraine, but only legitimate way within the current Constitution, and not violating it.

QUESTION: Vladimir Vladimirovich, and if in the Crimea will be a referendum and people decide to secede, the people themselves, by a majority vote, you support it?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: The subjunctive is used in politics ever. And I want to stay within the rules.

QUESTION: And Yanukovych alive at all? Was information that he died.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Once he was on the territory of the Russian Federation, I saw him once, it was just two days ago. He was alive and well and you the same desires. He still get cold at the funeral of those who propagate this information.

QUESTION: Do you think, Vladimir Vladimirovich., in recent months, when the situation was aggravated in Ukraine, than there were errors Yanukovych?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: You know, I will not answer this question – not because I do not know the answer, but I think it would be incorrect on my part. You know, because …

QUESTION: You sympathize with them?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: None. I have other feelings perfectly. The person who performs such functions, carries on his shoulders such duties as head of state, and have rights and responsibilities there. But the most important duty – it is the will of the people who entrusted him with the country, acting within the law. Here it is necessary to analyze whether all he did – that gave him into the hands of the law and the mandate of the voters or not. Analyze and make themselves to a conclusion.

QUESTION: What kind of feelings? You say “no sympathy, and other feelings.” If this can be found.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: We’ll talk to you later.

QUESTION: You said two issues ago that we must first get our positions to residents of the south and south-east of Ukraine. This is understandable, of the south-east, but …

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Before all, in principle, it is necessary to convey.

To all residents and citizens of Ukraine. We have no enemies there. I repeat once again, Ukraine – friendly state.You know how last year drove from Ukraine to Russia? 3.3 million people. Of these, nearly 3 million moved into Russia in order to work. And they work here, about 3 million people. Know how much money they send to Ukraine to support their families? Calculate the average salary of 3 million people. Billions of dollars, it is a significant contribution to the country’s GDP, this is not a joke. And we all accept, and many people who come and work for us – from the western Ukraine. They are everything for us, for us they are all brothers.

QUESTION: So I just wanted to ask. The first lot is now talking about the south-east, it’s understandable, but in the West, too, because there are ethnic Russian, Russian-speaking people and their situation is probably worse, they generally can not raise his head, there they repressed minority. How can our country to help them?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: We believe that the current so-called authorities, if they pretend to be considered civilized, must ensure the safety of its citizens throughout the territory of the state, no matter where they lived. And of course we will be closely watched for it.

Thank you.

Source in original Russian.

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