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Will there be a new Iron Curtain: Putin asked in national Q&A session

Last updated on: April 17, 2015 11:47 IST

"The United States doesn’t need allies; it needs vassals,” Putin lashed out against the US during his four-hour-long interaction with Russians on Thursday.

The session, dubbed Direct Line, saw Putin discuss major issues pertaining to Russia, including economic sanctions against the Russian state, price rise and Russo-American relations.

Russian President Vladimir Putin poses for a picture with call centre employees after a live broadcast nationwide call-in in Moscow. Photograph: Mikhail Klimentyev/ Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin participated in a Q&A session with the Russian media on Thursday.

The aptly dubbed Direct Line session, saw Putin answer questions posted by Russian citizens about various topics including price rise, the devaluation of the Russian ruble and the state of democratic liberties in Russia. The highly orchestrated show is a measure by which the Kremlin marks its success in delivering their message to the nation.

Russian President Vladimir Putin takes part in a live broadcast nationwide call-in in Moscow. Photograph: Alexei Druzhinin/ Reuters

Last year’s edition had a victorious tenor with Putin revelling in the annexation of the region of Crimea.

But this year’s Direct Line saw Putin take a far more assuaging approach over nearly four hours on the air as he answered questions about price rise, the decline of the ruble’s international value and Russia’s economic prospects.

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with journalists after a live broadcast nationwide call-in in Moscow whence he declared that Russia will not impose penalties against France over its failure to fulfil a 1.2 billion euro contract to supply two Mistral helicopter carriers. Photograph: Maxim Shemetov/ Reuters

The Kremlin says they will have to sift through well over 1.7 million emails, video messages and texts to decide who gets to ask what on the big day. A few would-be questions released ahead of the event give us a flavor of what's on Russia's mind.

Representatives of the separatist self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DNR) watch a live broadcast nationwide call-in attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin in Donetsk. Photograph: Igor Tkachenko/ Reuters 

One unidentified schoolgirl asked: “Is there a threat to Russia's interests from the United States and Europe? And will there be a new Iron Curtain?”

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting with journalists after a live broadcast nationwide call-in in Moscow. Photograph: Maxim Shemetov/ Reuters

Sanctions and Russia's severe economic crisis, which saw the value of the Russian currency plunge abysmally in value against the dollar, was a major theme.

With Moscow at odds with the West over Ukraine foreign policy dominated much of the session as well.

Russian President Vladimir Putin takes part in a live broadcast nationwide call-in in Moscow. Putin said on Thursday Russian military forces were not in Ukraine, denying allegations by Ukraine and Western countries that Moscow is providing troops and support for pro-Russian rebels fighting in eastern Ukraine. Photograph: Mikhail Klimentyev/ Reuters

More than 3 million Russians were said to have sent inquiries to the call-in show, which was heavily promoted on Russia’s state-run television networks.

Putin told viewers that he expected sanctions against Russia to last for years. But the challenges will ultimately strengthen the country, Putin said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin takes part in a live nationwide broadcast. Photograph: Mikhail Klimentyev/ Reuters

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