Vladimir Putin recently concluded a four-hour press conference in Moscow. There were some interesting, even startling, developments.
Putin made a lengthy opening statement to the assembled press, including the following remark: “I want to point out the stability of state finances despite the existing problems, of which we have many and I am sure we will discuss them later.”
During the press conference, the following exchange then occurred:
QUESTION: Sergei Brilyov, Moscow, Rossiya TV channel.
Mr President, at the beginning of the news conference, you spoke about stability.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Did I? I hadn’t said a word about it.
QUESTION: You did.
At the end of your current term as president, you will have been in power so long that children who were born in your first year as President will become adults. Financial stability is a wonderful thing. But these 18 years – this is a special figure in Russian history; aren’t you concerned that stability could turn into stagnation?
In essence, the journalist called Putin a liar to his face. Or maybe senile, unable to remember what he had said a few moments before? Then the bold reporter went on to challenge Putin’s central premise, that he should be congratulated for achieving stability. He confronted him with the question of whether Putin had actually given Russia stagnation.
One was reminded of Putin’s breathtaking gaff (or lie) when he claimed that a Pussy Riot member had participated in an anti-Semitic demonstration when in fact the event was pro-Jew. Is Putin losing it?
There was more. As Power Vertical reports:
A telling moment came when Putin addressed an adult journalist, Maria Solovyenko, by the diminutive, “Masha.” She came right back at him, addressing the Russian head of state by his diminutive, “Vova.”
Just. Wow. Russian journalists standing up to Putin in this manner is unprecedented. One called him either a liar or a senile fool, while the other called him a child.
Of course, there was also plenty of fawning; one female journalist, for instance, gushed over Putin’s attractiveness and softballed him as to how anyone could claim he was sickly. Between the two, they agreed it was obviously an opposition plot.
But the open lack of fear and even contempt with which some journalists regarded Putin was compelling and heartening. If it leads to more and better reporting on Putin’s faults and outrageous crimes (during the interview, he essentially characterized himself as infallible), then Russia may have a future after all.