"I have been thinking about this since 2000. Thinking is not a crime, but in the end, the choice will still be up to the Russian people. Whether I like or hate someone, other candidates will run for president and eventually the citizens of the Russian Federation will make the final decision," Putin said in the interview with the NBC broadcaster, the script of which was published on Kremlin's website.
NBC host Megyn Kelly went on to ask the president whether it is possible for him to leave power as the experts told the broadcaster that there is a possibility of him being "thrown in jail by adversaries or worse."
"What your so-called experts say is their wishful thinking. I have heard a lot of nonsense like this. Why do you think that I will necessarily be succeeded by people ready to destroy everything I have done in recent years? Maybe, on the contrary, a government will come to power determined to strengthen Russia, to create a future for it, to build a platform for development for the new generations. Why have you suddenly decided that some destroyers would arrive and wipe out whatever they can?" Putin noted.
The Russian president pointed out that the stable development of Russia was in the interest of the United States as well.
"Maybe there are people who would like this [to destroy everything Putin has done in recent years], including in the United States. But I do not think they are right, because the United States, I think, should be more interested in the other option – in Russia being a stable, prosperous and developing country, I mean if you really can look at least 25–50 years ahead," Putin underlined.
Greatest Accomplishments and Biggest Mistakes
Megyn Kelly asked the Russian president about his best moments during his presidential career and the worst mistakes he has made.
"Our biggest achievement is that our economy has changed radically. It has almost doubled in scale. The number of people living below the poverty line has decreased by half. At the same time, the number of people living below the poverty line remains large, and we must work on that. We must remove the gap between people with very high and very low incomes. In this context, we have many achievements and many unresolved issues," said Putin.
Continuing on the matter, he stated, that the main economic goal has not been achieved yet.
"We have not yet reached the required growth of labor efficiency. But we know how to do it, and I am confident that we will do it. The thing is that we've had no opportunity to do this before because until recently we did not have the macroeconomic conditions for taking specific measures in these areas," the Russian president stated.
He also emphasized, that earlier inflation was about 30 percent, but now it is 2.2 percent.
"Our gold and currency reserves are growing, and we have achieved macroeconomic stability. This provides us an opportunity to take the next step towards enhancing our labor efficiency, attracting investment, including private funds, and changing the structure of our economy," he continued.
The NBC host asked Vladimir Putin about what he shall bequeath to the country after his time in office.
"I strongly believe that my legacy would be to create a powerful development momentum for Russia and make the country a resilient and balanced democracy that is able to benefit from the latest advances of the technology revolution. We will keep up our efforts to improve our political system and the judiciary. And I am certain that all this, taken together, would strengthen the unity of the Russian Federation and the unity of our people, and enable us to move forward with confidence for years to come," Russian President replied.
Apart from Putin, there are seven other people running: Sergey Baburin from the All-People's Union party, Communist Party candidate Pavel Grudinin, head of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Civil Initiative party candidate Ksenia Sobchak, Communists of Russia party chairman Maxim Suraykin, business ombudsman Boris Titov, and co-founder of the Yabloko Party Grigory Yavlinsky.