MOSCOW, December 23. /TASS/. The Russian people determine the ways to organize the country’s society and government themselves, President Vladimir Putin said at his annual year-end press conference on Thursday. He pointed out that Russia’s foreign agent law was far more liberal than the same legislation in the United States, while cases of torture in detention facilities were a global problem. The president emphasized that he had done his utmost to make sure that the murders of Boris Nemtsov and Anna Politkovskaya were solved. He also pointed out that even Russia’s opponents admitted that Russia was impossible to defeat, but could only be destroyed from within. To sum up the event, TASS has put together the president’s key remarks.
On concentrating power
“We have a division of powers: we have the executive, legislative, and judicial branches. Clearly, each country at every stage of its development has certain nuances related to the competencies of these authorities. We will do our best so that they can operate separately so that the country is consolidated and efficient and looks forward into the future.” “After all, it is up to the Russian people to decide on how to organize society and government, not to those you are serving today” (addressing a BBC reporter).
On foreign agent laws
“If you don’t stop your activities there [in the US], you may face criminal prosecution and up to five years in prison. It can happen even when you end your activities and shut down your organization, you can’t escape criminal responsibility. [You’d face a] five-year term. We don’t have anything like that here. <…> Our law is far more liberal.”
On Navalny’s “poisoning,” prison term
“You have mentioned a person who was allegedly poisoned. We have sent numerous official requests on behalf of the Russian prosecutor’s office, asking for any evidence of the poisoning. <…> “I myself told the French president and the German chancellor: ‘Let our experts work on that, let us take samples and check the grounds for opening a criminal case. There was no response. There is no need to talk about it, let us turn this page over if you have nothing to respond.” “There have always been inmates in all countries. Don’t commit crimes under the cover of political activities.”
On torture incidents in prisons
“As for torture and generally the abuse and ill-treatment of people in detention facilities, unfortunately, it’s not only Russia’s problem. If you look at what is happening in prisons in other countries, you will see that problems there are no less than here. It is a global issue.” Criminal investigations are underway into incidents of torture: “We need to carefully work with this based on credible, full-fledged investigations <…> and follow through with it so that it’s clear to everyone that punishment is inevitable. In this case, I think that we will achieve a positive result.”
On investigation of Nemtsov, Politkovskaya murder cases
“I did everything to make sure that these crimes were solved. The relevant instructions and orders were given to all the law enforcement and intelligence agencies. It is known that the perpetrators are serving prison terms but some say that they were not the masterminds and the masterminds were left out, someone hid them away or they hid away themselves, investigators are unaware of that. However, everything was done to expose those responsible for the crimes. And some of them were killed during arrest attempts.”
On foreign Internet services
“As for our work with global platforms, we will continue to insist that they should comply with our laws. You know that in many countries, Internet traffic is slowed down and other methods are used, even going as far as blocking their activities. We would very much like to avoid such extreme measures. However, if we are forced to do it, we will have to increase requirements for those who are engaged in this work but ignore the interests of Russian society.”
On whether it is possible to defeat Russia
“I would like to reiterate what our opponents have been saying for centuries: Russia is impossible to defeat, it can only be destroyed from within.”.