Russians to Putin: When Will We Get a Better Life?

Written by Henrik Rothen

Dec.14 - 2023 10:51 PM CET

Foto: Screenshot
Foto: Screenshot
When Will We Get a Better Life?

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During Vladimir Putin's annual press conference, a carefully choreographed event, as followed by Dagens.com through a live TV broadcast, the Russian President answered 67 selected questions over a four-hour period. This year, the conference included a few critical questions, though not many were directly addressed by Putin.

Text messages from viewers, which managed to pass through the screening process, were displayed on a large screen. One viewer wrote, "There is no reason to run for another term. Make way for the young." Another asked, "Why is your reality different from ours?" and a third questioned, "Vladimir Vladimirovich! When will we have a better life?"

Another viewer's comment was, "Can you tell me how to move to the Russia we see on TV?"

It's unclear whether Putin saw these questions, as he did not respond to them, and they were not among the 67 questions read aloud during the conference. The event, typically aimed at portraying Putin in a positive light, does not usually entertain doubts about his capabilities, as noted by BBC's Moscow correspondent Steve Rosenberg.

However, the fact that these texts made it to the video screen suggests that the Kremlin at least feels the need to imply the existence of other viewpoints, without giving them too much prominence.

The press conference, held in the format of a TV program called "The Direct Line," allows the president to answer selected questions and review the year. This was the first such event since Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, as last year's conference was canceled.

Among the questions Putin answered this year were those from residents in some Ukrainian areas, which Putin claims are now part of Russia. A resident of Severodonetsk, a city in Eastern Ukraine declared part of Russia in the summer of 2022, shared their hardships: "My child and I have been living without heat for two years. No one repairs the building. There is no electricity." They asked, "When can we live under humane conditions?"

Below, you can see an excerpt of the most important statements from Putin's 'Direct Line'.

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