Putin reviews domestic policies, warns West on Syria

Updated: 2012-09-07 10:04


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MOSCOW - Russian President Vladimir Putin has taken an opportunity to review his domestic and foreign polices since returning to the Kremlin by giving an interview to a local TV channel which aired it on Thursday.

In the run-up to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in the Far Eastern city of Vladivostok, Putin gave an interview to Russia Today (RT) TV channel.

The president answered questions from anchor Kevin Owen, covering major issues of domestic and international concerns, including politics, economy and international issues such as the Syrian crisis.

On the upcoming APEC summit in Vladivostok, Putin highlighted the strategic importance of the Far East region to the country and underscored Moscow's willingness to further facilitate integration in the Asia-Pacific region.

Meanwhile, Russia was prepared for a second global financial crisis, as the country had gained experience and reserved instruments for crisis management, Putin said, adding that 200 billion rubles ($6.2 billion) would be allocated to the government fund to cover the budget deficit.

Putin defended reform measures such as internet supervision rules aimed at protecting children from online pornography, and some "seemingly tough" measures toward the opposition, saying he did what he thought was right "for the country and its people".

Asked about how to tackle corruption in Russia, Putin said it was a problem for many countries, "you will find it in any country, be it in Europe or in the United States".

Admitting that the scope and the level of corruption in Russia were quite high, Putin said it was typical for transition economies. "The reason is that while new economic growth models are evolving many things are not yet adjusted or aligned, and the state is not always in control."

The president vowed to continue to fight corruption as it was an essential part of the government's political agenda.

With regard to the crisis in Syria, Putin warned Western countries that their "risky" stance on the crisis could backfire and they need rethinking.

Putin said, by funding extremists in a bid to topple the Syrian government, some Western countries could hurt themselves in the end without realizing their selfish goals.

"Today, some want to use militants from Al-Qaida or some other organizations with equally radical views to accomplish their goals in Syria," Putin said, adding such a policy was short-sighted and would lead to dire consequences.

He also rejected Western criticism of Moscow's refusal to support UN draft sanctions against the Syrian authorities as well as suggestions that Russia should change its stance.

On relations with the United States and the deadlock in missile defense talks, Putin urged both sides to address the thorny issue.

Putin said it was necessary to continue the dialogue on the US missile defense program in Europe, but he was not sure whether Washington was "prepared for this kind of cooperation".

Noting a willingness in US President Barack Obama to revive the missile talks, Putin said Obama was dragged down by "a military lobby in the Congress and the conservative State Department".

"My feeling is that he (Obama) is a sincere man and he genuinely wants to implement positive changes. But can he do it? Will they let him do it?" Putin asked.

Putin said that, if Obama is re-elected as president, it is possible for Russia and the United States to solve the missile defense problem.

Moscow has long been opposed to the deployment of US-led European missile defense facilities near its borders and called for legally binding guarantees from the United States and NATO that the missile shield will not target Russia.

As for tough words made by the US Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney on Russia, Putin said he would cooperate with anyone elected by the American people but took Romney's remarks as "erroneous and improper".

Those anti-Russia comments, including referring to Moscow as Washington's "top enemy", were part of the election campaign. However, Putin said, it was improper for a politician to declare someone as adversary.