Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual call-in on Thursday, fielding questions from Russian citizens. Over three million questions were submitted via email, text, telephone, online video, and members of the small studio audience. Putin holds the event every year and it goes on for hours. His longest call-in was four hours and forty minutes, but Thursday’s was only three hours and forty-eight minutes.
Putin spoke about American politics and brought up President Barack Obama’s answer to Fox News’s Chris Wallace that the “worst mistake” of his Presidency was “failing to plan for the day after” Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi left power. Qaddafi was killed by pro-democracy activists, opening up the country to a new era. However, that era has largely been tumultuous as the country has grappled with creating a democratic form of government as ISIS has attempted to take land in the country.
“Firstly, it once again confirms that the current U.S. president is a decent man, because to say such a thing is not easy. And that’s very good that my colleague possesses the courage to make such statements,” Putin said of Obama’s answer.
“Barack, as a senator, criticized the administration for its actions in Iraq. But, as president, he allowed a mistake to happen, he has said it himself, in Libya. Not everyone can do that. They snap at him from different sides over that but only a strong man could have done that.”
Of Obama eventually leaving office, Putin looked at the bigger picture and said that he did not regret Obama’s leaving. “We all go sooner or later, probably. It’s pointless to regret, you need to continue working.”
“I must say [of] that the U.S. president — you can give different assessment, it’s up to the American citizens to assess, but he’s working, working hard … And I’m sure it will continue until the last moment of staying on the job — he is very responsible.”
Putin and Obama have historically had a cold relationship and Obama has described Putin as “not completely stupid.” However, the two regularly talk over the phone, especially regarding the Syrian crisis.
Putin was also asked why Russia does not have more political parties. He responded by invoking the United States, “Take the States. First, Bush Sr. had the power, then Bush Jr. — the family in any case,” he said.
“[Bill] Clinton served two terms, now his wife is a contender — the family may get to stay in power again.”
Putin then chuckled and brought up the Russian folk saying, “As we say, husband and wife are the same devil.”
Putin was also asked if there would be a “new first lady,” and Putin joked, “I’m … doing fine and happy with my life. I don’t know if we should put these kind of questions in the spotlight — wouldn’t it affect the currency rate or the oil prices?” Putin’s ex-wife recently re-married. There are rumors that Putin is dating Wendi Deng, the ex-wife of media mogul Rupert Murdoch.