"The show is gone, the conversation remains": political analysts assessed Putin's press conference
18 December 2020, 10:24
Photo: cnn-mn.ru
For four and a half hours, President Putin answered questions from journalists and citizens. A total of 55 questions were asked. The participants of the event shared their impressions - for them the press conference ceased to resemble a show, but it became a conversation.

Novye Izvestia discussed with the experts what they remembered the most.

The general opinion of the respondents was that, despite the "diagnoses" that were circulating on the Internet, Putin looked good.

“I liked the press conference. He is in good shape today”, - says Andrey Manoilo, a political scientist, professor at Moscow State University, member of the scientific council under the Security Council of the Russian Federation.

“The president looks good and speaks well, some media have used this issue for political purposes”, - political analyst Anna Fyodorova worries.

The president in Novo-Ogarevo and his journalistic pool sat in quarantine for two weeks before the press conference, the rest at a distance - this has never happened before in the twenty-year history of press conferences with the head of state. Either because of the peculiarities of virtual meetings, or maybe, according to the idea of the organizers, there were no girls in red dresses with bears in their hands this time. Thanks to the pandemic, there was no circus.

“It was not a press conference, but a conversation. We see attention, we see the figures from VTsIOM, which are very important - the record for the duration and the fact that 81% of those surveyed were going to follow the press conference. This speaks of the great public interest in such a frank conversation with the president. Many colleagues write that there was no drive, that the show was gone. But, I think the show is gone, there was sincerity. The conversation was frank and emotional. The conversation took place. There was less direct line, there was a press conference. The questions were declared by the volunteers, so the press conference was more dominant, the questions of the press conference. This is journalistic”, - said Konstantin Komkov, a member of the public chamber of the Russian Federation, director of the Center for Regional Development.

All the hot topics of recent months were touched upon. The poisoning of Navalny, billions of Shamalov's former son-in-law, the case of Safronov and Furgal...

“Most of all I liked his dialogue with Rosenberg, the BBC correspondent. And the way the President answered the question that was incorrectly worded. Rosenberg began to formulate it politely, and at the end he inserted the assumption, which is widespread in the West, about the alleged use of chemical weapons, he inserted them as facts, as if it had already been proven, and there was no doubt. This is not very diplomatic towards a person who agreed to answer your question and expects constructive interaction from you. And from the point of view of journalistic ethics, in my personal opinion, it was done unethically. And the President held an educational program in Crimea and explained to the BBC correspondent. He explained how the sanctions differ, how the annexation differs from the expression of will, as if he were a teacher and Rosenberg was sitting at a school desk. But he asked for it himself. And then there was another moment, remarkable from the point of view of applied psychology, when the President asked a counter question, but he was not ready. The fact that he was at a loss could be seen under the mask. It was a classic trick, I remember this”, - this is how Andrey Manoilo remembered the press conference.

Political analyst Anna Fyodorova believes that the questions about Navalny and Furgal are not a political get-together, but important social topics:

“Do you remember when they said that the Kremlin does not want to comment on the situation with this investigation by Navalny, that it is evading any statements and so on? Today there have been many rather acute questions about Navalny, Furgal and Safronov. That is, in my opinion, this did not add a lot of dynamism to what is happening, but at the same time these topics are much less discussed, well, in the political get-together, but in fact it is an important social block".

They talked about Navalny, but people abroad are not interested in this topic now, political analyst Grigory Kazankov is sure:

“I don’t know what else the president could have said, there are other structures that have to say. What is there to comment on, so he said what was expected of him. That someone was expecting some sensations, that he would say that all this is nonsense, that this is all fake, so to speak. He said Lavrov said what was expected. A different situation in the country and in the world, in general, international life froze a little. By and large, the world is worried about the pandemic and worried about the consequences of what is happening in connection with the pandemic, what will happen there, in Syria or Australia, they are more worried about where the vaccine is, and whether it really will help and guarantee that you will not get sick. whether or not you need to be vaccinated - there are a lot of questions on this topic. And as with medicine, an ambulance can be called or not. This is happening somewhere many kilometers away..."

Vladimir Putin's statement on Donbass was noted by many political scientists. Andrey Manoilo fully supports the words of support for Donbass:

“It is very important for Russia not to abandon its own people, wherever they are. Putin's statement was, on the one hand, the very statement that was expected of him, and he made the right decision in formulating his position in this way. On the other hand, it was legally competently formulated so that let Ukrainian lawyers try to bring it under interference. I don't think they can do it. The fact that they can get upset from such a statement is their personal problem. Judging by the way the Ukrainians behave in the Minsk process, when they set the course for torpedoing, the big question here is who is more eager for a settlement. In Donbass, a fairly large number of people have Russian citizenship. These are our people".

Grigory Kazankov did not understand what kind of assistance the president was talking about for Donbass, but he thinks that everyone will only be good from this:

“There is a question of humanitarian support, people there live extremely hard. There is a question to ensure a minimum standard of living for the people. If there is humanitarian support, what will be the consequences? I didn't think he was talking about military support. After all, from the point of view of Ukraine and from the point of view of Russia, this is the territory of Ukraine. Russia will only help preserve the infrastructure. Is it bad for Ukraine, or what? "

Suddenly, the topic of elections, voting and the political future of President Putin himself after 2024 sounded in detail. Alexander Brod, Director of the Moscow Bureau for Human Rights, member of the Human Rights Council under the President of the Russian Federation, drew attention to the situation with the observation during the elections and to the topic of ensuring confidence in their results:

“For the president, one of the criteria for the success of elections is their transparency, openness and confidence in the results. And one of the mechanisms is public observation and it was noted that public chambers and non-governmental organizations have expanded powers and, indeed, public observers have an important role to play in ensuring monitoring, in drawing attention to the problem. In general, such activity increases citizens' confidence in the elections and in their results. Therefore, I believe that this is a very important conversation, it will spur the work of the federal and regional authorities and help everyone to see the pain points that we face every day, everywhere. This requires a systematic solution, in particular, these are the most painful issues, these are social issues, ensuring the labor rights of citizens, raising the standard of living in these difficult conditions".

Political scientist Maxim Grigoriyev adds:

“He clearly outlined the trend that independent public control over the elections with our independent public observers will continue, and this is an important requirement for ensuring the openness and transparency of elections. At the same time, he noted that, of course, there is interference in the affairs of Russia, it will continue. But the main thing here, we understand this, is to ensure public observation, which we carry out with the entire civil society of Russia".

The topic of the fate of the president himself after 2024 did not go unnoticed either. It became clear to Andrey Manoilo that the decision had not been made yet:

“The fact that he has not yet decided whether or not he will go to the polls. This also brought some certainty, in connection with the fact that he thinks. That is, it is clear at what point the process is".

Alexander Malakhov, an expert at the Expert Institute for Social Research, believes that the answer to this question will be given, taking into account not only the personal interests of Vladimir Putin:

“Any actions that are taken, any plans that are built in domestic or foreign policy, first of all, should be conditioned by the interests of the country. The first time the president said this when answering a question about changes to the Constitution and plans to run in 2024. He said he hadn't made a decision yet. Then the phrase was heard that everything is being done taking into account whether it will benefit the country".

Well, most of the questions related to the pandemic, so this block was important for experts. It also intertwined the fears of people to get sick and not be able to be cured. An important place was taken by questions about social protection and state assistance to families, assistance to business on plans for economic recovery.

Mikhail Kovalyov, political scientist, expert in the field of Internet and social networks, noted the therapeutic nature of the event:

“It seems to me that this time the straight line had a triple psychotherapeutic effect, precisely because now is such an alarming time, a short future horizon due to the pandemic. Everyone is uncomfortable, many are scared, and, of course, everyone wanted to hear from the leader of the state some things, details that allow them to hope for a better future. It seems to me that the president's speech has fulfilled this task one hundred percent".

Grigory Kazankov notes the importance of an open dialogue with citizens:

“It seems to me that there are things that are important to people, the story about the covid is important now, what will happen to this, and how the state can support them. Many are in difficult life situations, many important measures have been planned, this is correct. This is some additional guarantee that it will actually work out, so I think this is the key story. There are times when it is necessary to talk about some prospects, strategies, development plans for 10 - 20 years, now is the time when it is necessary to say what to do now, because, indeed, such an extraordinary situation has developed both in the country and in everyone person. Therefore, support is important. I said at the beginning that the business can somehow hold out. It turns out that a year in such conditions will have to work, and maybe more. It is possible that small business will probably not be saved, people are losing their jobs, losing their source of livelihood. The President said this, in my opinion, it is important".

Anna Fyodorova agrees that now people are more interested in their own life and their own prospects, and not in distant countries, no matter how important they are, from a geopolitical point of view:

“Putin once again explained about the measures aimed at supporting families with children, at payments for various categories of families. And what has to do with food prices, etc. People expect from the press conference, first of all, an answer to the questions that some of the people concern, and this has also sounded.

In general, as far as the mood is concerned, I would rate it as optimistic. We have difficulties, the light at the end of the tunnel loomed, in the next six months it will be possible to remove many coronavirus restrictions, and maybe the economy will start growing again. In my opinion, this is the kind of moderate optimism that people lack".