In a sort of Russian-style town hall meeting, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin fielded questions Thursday about his government’s policies and practices in a lengthy televised session (running time: 4 hours and 29 minutes) that included the cheeky query, “How is your puppy, Buffy?” How indeed. —KA
The New York Times:
His tone was set a few minutes into the televised program, which is an annual event. A caller said the police were not protecting members of ethnic minorities from attacks by ethnic Russian nationalists, so that many of his friends were afraid to leave their homes. Mr. Putin said extremism should be stopped — and warned against maligning the police.
“These bodies of power carry out the state’s most important function,” Mr. Putin said. “Otherwise, our liberal intelligentsia will have to shave off their goatees and put on helmets themselves and go out to the square to fight radicals themselves.”
[...] The televised session displayed Mr. Putin at his populist best, reeling off a seemingly endless series of economic indicators and answering questions for hours without so much as a glance at notes. Many questions were delivered in a spirit of open admiration — “What is the secret of your secret?” was one, and “How is your puppy, Buffy?” — and Mr. Putin was relaxed and fluent, enjoying himself before a doting crowd. Most questions focused on economic matters, like utility costs, and he promised that the economy would return to pre-crisis levels early in 2012.