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    LIVE UPDATES: Russian President Vladimir Putin Holds Annual 'Direct Line' Q&A Session

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    The annual "direct line" session is a well-established tradition, as it has been carried out by the Kremlin since 2001. According to the Russian president, the format is useful as it allows him to address issues that require special attention.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin is answering questions from the public during his annual live Q&A session, "Direct Line with Vladimir Putin". During the last year's event, call centres received more than 2.5 million questions; Putin was able to answer 79 of these.

    The questions always reflect a vast variety of issues, from the economy and Russia's role on the international arena to Putin's thoughts on more personal matters, such as his belief in God, who he'd like to see as his successor and whether he feels lonely on the "political Olympus."

    The session usually lasts more than four hours; the 2013 session lasted the longest, at 4 hours and 47 minutes.

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      "I want to emphasise — in order to ensure that everyone understands what we are talking about — that we are talking about the deliberate spreading of false information. That is what this law is about. Let's first look together at enforcement practice, on how it is implemented in life, and then we would be able to draw a conclusion about whether it is enough or there is a need to do something else," Putin said, answering a question on whether he considered that spreading fake news should imply heavier punishment.

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      "To date, we are not considering the issue of unification into one state. We are talking about the implementation of the agreement on the creation of the so-called Union State, which was signed many years ago. It is not a single state, these are different things," Putin stressed during his annual "Direct Line" Q&A session.

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      "Even if we surrender and forget about our own national interests, will there be any changes? Maybe there will be some external signals, but significantly it will not change," Putin said at the call-in session.

      When asked whether Moscow could benefit from possible reconciliation with the West, the Russian president stressed that Russia had no and did not want disagreements with any nation.

      "We had no row with anyone. And we have no such desire," Putin said. 

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      "The final goal of all such projects is to modernise the economy make it high-tech, raise labour productivity and on this basis improve living standards for our citizens, as well as to ensure the security of our state in the long term," Putin said.

      Further addressing the state of the country's economy, the Russian leader stressed that it is necessary to change its structure, technologically advance it and introduce artificial intelligence (AI) drones. 

      The Q&A session started with economic and social issues. Putin recalled that the Russian economy had faced a number of "external shocks" over past years, not only sanctions but also the adverse situation on the global market for the country’s traditional export products such as oil, metals and chemical products. 

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      Russian President Vladimir Putin answers questions from Russia’s citizens during the annual special Direct Line with Vladimir Putin broadcast live by Russian TV channels and radio stations

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    LIVE UPDATES: Russian President Vladimir Putin Holds Annual 'Direct Line' Q&A Session
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