On December 14, Russian President Vladimir Putin participated in the annual news conference. During the event, several topics were tackled, including his recent announcement that he was running for a fourth term.
During the press conference, Russian journalist and self-nominated presidential candidate Ksenya Sobchack asked a question about the upcoming 2018 elections to Putin, stressing that "opposition candidates are not allowed to take part in elections". After the event, Sobchak commented in her blog:
"Yesterday, I asked Putin about the elections – why is he denying this freedom from his people? His answer was: 'Do you want dozens of people like Mikhail Saakashvili running around here.' The entire auditorium of 'so called journalists' applauded. Yes, Vladimir Vladimirovich, we want our citizens to have an opportunity to vote for whoever they like. For example, to vote for [Alexei] Navalny, whom you, for unclear reasons, compare to Saakashvili. to vote for me, though you think that I don't have a positive elections program.to vote even for you, though you think that Russia has made that choice in perpetuity 18 years ago."
Tatyana Felgengauer, deputy editor in chief of Echo Moscow radio station, also put a question to Putin about the rule of law in Russia. On October 23, Felgengauer was stabbed with a knife at the radio station's studio. The attacker was identified as Boris Grits, a dual Russian-Israeli citizen. According to the authorities, the attack was the action of a madman. However, the independent journalist Yulia Latynina, who also hosts a weekly radio show at Echo Moscow, wondered whether Grits was merely a psychopath, or a psychopath being exploited by someone else.
After the event, Felgengauer wrote in her Telegram channel:
"This was definitely no press conference. It is not because we knew all the answers in advance. This was not a press-conference, due to the vast majority of those accredited to attend it. They did not come to fulfill their journalistic duty, but merely to lobby, plead, thank and curry favor. I don't understand how come they guffaw at weird jokes and applaud the president's answers. I don't get how they could shout in order to get noticed, while silencing their colleague, who has been given the floor. I don't get how they dismiss the question, which has been asked. I felt infinitely embarrassed, when many in the hall started heckling and silencing [Ukrainian journalist Roman] Tsymbalyuk. This is a disgrace! ...It's obvious that hardly any one needed questions or answers. All they needed was an access to Putin in order to tell him their problem and beg him to solve it. That's it. It does not even smell like journalism".
Following are excerpts of Putin's answers on the 2018 presidential elections, during the press conference. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov served as the moderator.
Putin at the press conference (Source: Kremlin.ru)
2018 Presidential Elections
Putin: My Election Program Is Almost Ready
Darya Knorre, Govorit Moskva [This is Moscow Speaking] radio station: "Mr. President, why have you decided to run for re-election? What is your goal and mission? What do you want to do for Russia? How should Russia change by the end of your next term, provided you win the election? Thank you."
Vladimir Putin: "You know I have spoken many times about a Russia I would like to see. I have done this at large events and at low-key events. I will say it again: Russia must be spearheaded into the future. It must become a modern country with a flexible political system, its economy must be based on high technology, and labour efficiency must increase manifold.
"I would prefer not to talk about my election program at this point. Just like any other candidate I will certainly have one. In fact, my program is almost ready.
"Let me repeat that this is probably not the right format for presenting it, but I can share with you some of its highlights that should be the focus of attention for the authorities and society in general.
"Specifically, this has to do with infrastructure development, healthcare and education. This is also about high technology, as I have already said, and improving labor efficiency.
"There is no doubt that the ultimate goal of all these initiatives should be to increase household incomes in our country. This is what I can say about my program in the most general terms. I think that during today’s conversation we will come back to these matters."
Putin at the press conference (Source: Kremlin.ru)
Life News Journalist To Putin: 'Why Is There No Number 2 Politician? How Come? Don’t You Feel Bored?'
Dmitry Peskov: "Life News."
Alexander Yunashev: "Good afternoon, Mr President.
"While we were waiting for your announcement that you will run for president, a number of other candidates for this office came forward. However, their approval ratings are in the single digits, if not closer to the margin of error.
"In your opinion, why is it that a normal, influential opposition candidate has not emerged in almost 20 years of your rule? Why is there no No. 2 politician? How come? Don’t you feel bored? Is it interesting for you to compete in the election without any major opponents?
Vladimir Putin: "In order to make your question a bit more poignant, I saw a young lady holding up a poster saying 'Putin, bye-bye'."
Remark: "Putin, babay."
Vladimir Putin: "Ah, babay. My vision does not seem to be getting any better with age. I am sorry."
Question: "Good afternoon.
"This is about translation problems. Everyone is afraid of me today. My poster says 'Putin, babay,' which in the Tatar language means 'Grandfather Putin.' This is how children call you in our republic…
Putin: 'Why Do We Seem To Have Vocal And Proactive Opposition Members In This Country But They Do Not Really Provide Any Serious Competition To The Incumbent Authorities?'
Vladimir Putin: "… As for the opposition and why there is no competitive opposition in the country, the simplest answer would be that nurturing rivals is not what I need to do.
"However, you might be surprised but I do believe that we should have not only economic but also political competition.
"Of course, I would be happy if we had a balanced political system. I want this, and I will work towards this. And a balanced political system is unthinkable without competition.
"Why do we seem to have vocal and proactive opposition members in this country but they do not really provide any serious competition to the incumbent authorities? You know, Russia’s path in the past decades has been quite remarkable, to put it mildly. Why is that? Of course, some younger people do not remember or do not even know what was happening here in the 1990s and the early 2000s. So they cannot really compare it to the present situation.
"We have many problems. We are here today primarily to discuss those problems, without any whitewashing. However, Russia’s GDP has increased by 75 percent since 2000, industrial production by 60 percent. Processing industries have grown at increased rates, 70 percent accordingly. Actual wages have somewhat declined as a result of the crisis developments of the past three years, and we will discuss this today, too. Still, since the early 2000s, real incomes have gone up by 250 percent, and real pensions by 260 percent. Infant mortality has decreased 2.6-fold and maternal mortality by 75 percent. Population decline in Russia used to be almost one million a year. We have reversed the demographic situation. There are still some issues and we will most likely mention them today. However, we have reversed it.
"We are now facing two declines, a ‘demographic pit.’ Additional measures will be taken, which I will mention today. I am certain we can cope with these challenges. Life expectancy used to be 65 or 65.3 years and now it is almost 73. We lived in conditions of civil war for a long time, for several years, almost six years if not more. More, almost ten years. The country was forced to send 18- and 19-year-old boys, unprepared and untrained, to face bullets because there was no other choice. Now look at our army. Our debt has decreased three-fold and the national reserves have increased 30 times. This is something.
"When we talk about the opposition, it is important to not just make noise out there on public squares or behind the scenes, and talk about a regime that is against the people. It is important to offer something, some improvement. Of course, people are dissatisfied with many things today and it is their right to be dissatisfied because our results could have been better. But when they look at what the leaders of the so-called opposition offer, both official and especially unofficial opposition, they start to question it.
"This is, I think, the biggest problem of those who want to become a competitive opposition. They need to offer a tangible agenda, not something imaginary, not just loud mouthing. An agenda that people would believe in. I hope it happens eventually, and the sooner, the better."
Putin: I Will Run As A Self-Nomination
Dmitry Peskov: "I cannot help but give the floor to Andrei Kolesnikov. He has been covering the President’s activities for 18 years now."
Andrei Kolesnikov: "Strictly speaking, 15, but that’s also a lot. Andrei Kolesnikov, Kommersant newspaper.
"Mr. President, I have a simple and straightforward question: in what capacity are you going to run for presidential office?
"Let me clarify. You can run as a self-nominated candidate, a representative of a public organization, or a party candidate. So, who will you be running as?"
"As a follow-up to this question, it is rumored that there are disagreements in your Executive Office as to who will be heading the campaign office. If there are no such disagreements, then, perhaps, you can name this person now? Does it matter to you anyway? Thank you."
Vladimir Putin: "It will be a self-nomination. Of course, I very much count on the support of the political forces regardless of their organization form – parties or public organizations – that share my views on the country’s development and have faith in me. Of course, I am counting on it. In general, I am looking forward to receiving broad support of our citizens…"
Putin at the press conference (Source: Kremlin.ru)
Klops.ru Journalist To Putin: Why So Many People Believe That Asking You For Help Is The Only Way To Resolve Their Problems?'
Maria Kravtsova: "Good afternoon, Maria Kravtsova, Klops.Ru news website, Kaliningrad.
"Mr. President, a lot of people come to your annual news conference and the Direct Line event. They ask you to help them resolve their problems, including personal problems, like the gravely ill young lady from the town of Apatity who was hospitalised only after you gave the instruction.
"Why, do you think, so many people believe that asking you, the President, for help is the only way to resolve their problems? How much time would it take to resolve all the problems in Russia using this hands-on management approach? …
Vladimir Putin: "… You know, the hands-on management myth is strongly exaggerated. Both in the regions and at the federal level, in the current mode – I am saying this as someone who headed the Government for four and a half years: [first] in 1999 and I completed the full four-year term not long ago – you can’t imagine what a huge amount of work flows through the Government.
"This is the hardest and most difficult job within the administrative system. Considering each particular issue… you can’t even look at it long enough, let alone study it. And it’s the same in the regions. In the regions, we often can’t even reach out to them; we sometimes don’t even know what is going on there. This is bad of course; we should be aware of everything.
"But this is why we are holding this event, and annual news conferences, and Direct Lines, no matter how some people criticize them or say that they are too formal. This is not so.
"This is the feedback we need, when people can directly reach national leaders. And yes, when this comes up, so-called hands-on management is needed, which is designed to systematize this work.
"You must have noticed that after the last Direct Line, during my regular meetings with regional governors, I always roll out the problems which their citizens address to the president. I mean that this has a continuation and, in this sense, I don’t see anything wrong with it. This only adds to the general system of our work."
Presidential Candidate Kseniya Sobchak To Putin: 'People Understand That To Be An Opposition Member In Russia Means That You Will Either Get Killed, Or Go To Jail'
Kseniya Sobchak (Source: Kremlin.ru)
Vladimir Putin: "Just a moment, Kseniya would like to say something against everybody. Please." [Sobchak announced her candidacy in an open letter in Vedomosti, the newspaper that originally hinted at possible presidential administration approval for her candidacy. She concluded her open letter with the phrase "Against Everyone," which has become her campaign slogan.]
Kseniya Sobchak: "Yes, Mr. Putin."
Vladimir Putin: "Are you against everyone present or everyone in general?"
Kseniya Sobchak: "No, I am for Russians and against power never changing hands. I have a question about competition."
Vladimir Putin: "I knew it."
Kseniya Sobchak: "I have a question about competition in this election. As you may know, I am also going to run for President of Russia."
Vladimir Putin: "Are you here as a journalist or did you also trick everyone, like the man before, and you really came here as a presidential candidate?"
Kseniya Sobchak: "No, I have not tricked anyone and I have come here as a journalist from Dozhd TV channel, because, at the moment, this is the only chance to ask you a question, because you do not participate in debates."
Vladimir Putin: "Please."
Kseniya Sobchak: "My question is related to the competitiveness of the election. Your press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, has already said that there is no opposition today; you have said today that you cannot nurture rivals, there are no people.
"I think that everyone is quite ready and there is no need to nurture anyone. The problem is that today opposition candidates are not allowed to take part in elections, or they run into problems. I can feel it myself.
"For example, there is a candidate, Alexei Navalny, who has been campaigning for over a year now. Fake criminal cases were begun against him. Alexei Navalny proved that they are fake at the European Court. You know that the Russian Federation recognizes rulings of the European Court. Nevertheless, he is not allowed to stand in the election, although it is known that the Constitutional Court has a special opinion on this issue and so on.
"The same goes for my activities since my announcement. It is very difficult to rent a hall in Russia, and people refuse to cooperate, even on a commercial basis. It is difficult to deliver any advertising materials. All of it is simply connected with fear. People understand that to be an opposition member in Russia means that you will either get killed, or go to jail, or something like that.
"My question is: why is this happening? Is the government afraid of honest competition?"
Vladimir Putin: "As for competition and whether we have a capable opposition, I have already answered in enough detail. The message was not that anyone is not mature enough, but that the opposition must emerge with a clear, understandable program of positive action."
"Suppose your slogan is 'Against everyone.' Is this a positive action program? What are you proposing to resolve the problems we are discussing today? (Applause.)
"About the figures you mentioned. A question about Ukraine was already asked. Do you want dozens of people like Saakashvili running around here? Those you named are a Russian version of Saakashvilis. Do you want such Saakashvilis to destabilize your country? Do you want us to live from one Maidan to the next? To survive attempted coups? We have been through this already. Do you want all this to return? I am sure that the absolute, overwhelming majority of Russian citizens does not want this and will not allow this. (Applause.)
"There certainly should be competition, and there will be competition of course – the only question is radicalism. Look what happened to the Occupy Wall Street movement in the United States. Where is it now? The thing is, it was comprised of people like Saakashvili or those you named. Where are they now? Nobody knows.
"Is this democracy or not? We should ask ourselves: what is democracy? This is a subject for a serious and deep discussion.
"I assure you that the government has never been afraid and is not afraid of anyone. But the government should not act like a bearded peasant idly picking at cabbage pieces in his beard and watching the state turn into a muddy puddle where oligarchs fish out goldfish for themselves, like it was in the 1990s or in Ukraine today. Do we want a replica of today's Ukraine in Russia? No, we do not want it and will not allow it."
Rule Of Law
Russian Journalist Felgengauer:'What Kind Of Rule Of Law Is This, If There Are Two Different Legal Realities In Our Country?'
Dmitry Peskov: "Ekho Moskvy. I see Tatyana Felgengauer, who is back in the ranks."
Tatyana Felgengauer: "Tatyana Felgengauer, Ekho Moskvy radio station."
Vladimir Putin: "God bless you. I hope you are doing well."
Tatyana Felgengauer: "I have a question about the situation with the rule of law in the Russian Federation. We can see two different legal realities. In one, there is a true repressive machine working, where criminal cases are being initiated for social media reports and text messages, and people are thrown in jail on groundless charges, which has been confirmed by the ECHR, Oleg Navalny, and Alexei Malobrodsky, who is kept in pre-trial detention facility, while Kirill Serebrennikov’s case is being heard.
"There is another legal reality. The one where Boris Nemtsov was killed, and Ruslan Geremeyev never questioned, because the investigator was not allowed to see him. Andrei Turchak was not interrogated either in the case of the attempted assassination of journalist Oleg Kashin. Igor Sechin, the head of Rosneft, is not in court for the most important trial of Alexei Ulyukayev, ignoring the summons. Any other citizen would certainly be forcibly brought to court, because this is contempt of court, but Igor Sechin gets away with it.
"Therefore, here is my question: what kind of rule of law is this, if there are two different legal realities in our country?
Vladimir Putin: "I agree with you that there are problems. But I cannot agree with the fact that we have different legal realities.
"As for Sechin and his failure to appear in court – if that was a violation of the law, then there must be an appropriate response under the law. But, as far as I understand, and I was certainly interested because I saw the public reaction to this case, the law was not violated in any way. The investigators agreed they have enough evidence collected, including the testimony of Sechin himself. But I cannot disagree with you that Sechin should have come to court, what is the problem anyway? He could show up and repeat what he said during the preliminary investigation and interrogations.
"As for someone being in jail and you thinking it is unreasonable, that is your opinion, while the investigative authorities consider it justified. Such disputes can only be resolved by court. We need to further consolidate the judicial and legal systems."
Ukrainian Journalist Roman Tsymbalyuk Gets Interrupted
Dmitry Peskov: "Let us take this question."
Vladimir Putin: "Bashkiria is nearby, but in my mind, in my understanding, Ukraine is also not far from there. Here comes Ukraine, please go ahead."
Roman Tsymbalyuk at press conference (Twitter.com)
[Ukrainian Journalist] Roman Tsymbalyuk: "Thank you very much for the opportunity to ask a question.
"However, I will correct you, Ukraine and Bashkiria are far from each other. We are only closely familiar with your Buryat people.
"This is not the first time I am asking you a question. The problem is that you do not answer all the questions. Earlier, you said that you never concealed the fact that you are sending people to Donbass to address military issues. In real life, this is called killing Ukrainian citizens. As a matter of fact, everything is clear here, and our army knows what to do with these people. But some of them are taken prisoners and end up in Ukrainian prisons. They get sentenced, sometimes to life in prison.
"Your third term is coming to an end. What if you do not get re-elected? Don’t you want to exchange your citizens? This is not so difficult, because Ukrainians do not leave their people behind. We want to return 65 hostages, of whom you are well aware, not just [Ukranian prisoners Oleg] Sentsov and [Roman] Sushchenko, but dozens of Crimean Tatars from Crimea as well."
(Noise in the audience)
Vladimir Putin: "Keep it down, please."
Roman Tsymbalyuk: "If you do win the election, will you stick to such an absurd position on Donbass and peacekeepers? In fact, your people who are addressing issues there engage in carnage of the people of Donbass, and you should not be afraid of it, because liberated Ukrainian cities such as Slavyansk and Mariupol are enjoying a wonderful peaceful life. Thank you."
Dmitry Peskov: "There is more. RIA Novosti also wants to ask a question."
Vladimir Putin: "Please, go ahead."
Putin: 'I think That What Saakashvili Is Doing Is A Slap In The Face To Both The Georgian And Ukrainian People'
Yelena Glushakova: "Lena Glushakova, RIA Novosti. I also wanted to ask a question about Ukraine, since we are asking questions in blocks.
"The situation with implementing the Minsk agreements seems disastrous. Do you think they are still working to settle this conflict?
"There is another related question. The United States constantly holds meetings with Russian representatives on Ukraine. However, it is not part of the Normandy Four. Is it perhaps time to make the US a formal participant of the Normandy format so that it becomes its fifth member?
"If I may, one more question about the Ukrainian politician Saakashvili. What do you think about his future in Ukraine and what are the prospects of that country in general? Thank you.
Vladimir Putin: "As for the Minsk format, it has not been very effective, primarily because of the unconstructive position of representatives of the current Kiev authorities. There is no desire whatsoever to carry out the Minsk Agreements. There is no desire whatsoever to start a real political process that can secure the implementation of an agreement on the special status of Donbass, which has been established in a Ukrainian law passed by the Rada, but which has not become valid for different pretexts. The agreement on it exists and the parameters of this law are well known.
"As for the United States, it is a fully-fledged participant of the settlement processes in its own right, regardless of whether it is in the Normandy framework or not. In any case, it is very deeply involved and is well aware of all the events there.
"I do not know whether it should be formally included in the Normandy format. In any event, this does not depend on us. Believe me, I have never been against this.
"Now I will answer the question of your colleague. In fact, he did not ask a question but rather stated his position. This is what I would like to say on this score.
"First, about the location of Ukraine and Bashkiria. Judging by the lack of any accent in your Russian, I believe mentally Bashkiria is not as far from Ukraine as you think in terms of geography.
"As for the tragedy that is taking place there today – and this is definitely a tragedy – I must agree. It is always necessary to look at the primary source of the tragedy. The primary source is a coup d'état, the armed unconstitutional seizure of power. And, as is known, part of the people did not agree and started resisting. Despite Ukraine’s alleged desire to become part of European civilization, those who objected were fought against not by democratic methods but at first with the use of secret services and then with the full-scale use of the armed forces.
"There is no Russian army on the territory of Donbass but there are certain militia formations that are self-sufficient and ready to repel any large-scale actions against Donbass.
"We believe this meets the interests of the people who live on that territory because if they do not have such an opportunity, the massacre you mentioned, carried out by so-called nationalist battalions, will be even worse than in Srebrenica. And nothing will stop them, including appeals to international human rights organizations that I was advised to make by my Western colleagues if events take such a turn. We are fully aware of this.
"Regarding the peacekeeping mission. It was Petro Poroshenko who spoke about the need to arm OSCE employees at first, and I agreed immediately. The OSCE turned down this idea right away saying that they have neither the experience nor the people and they do not want to give their employees weapons because they will immediately become targets for radicals on both sides.
"Then Mr. Poroshenko said that it is necessary to ensure security of the OSCE officers using UN forces. I agreed to that as well and, to dispel any doubts, we submitted a respective draft resolution, according to which UN forces would protect the OSCE employees.
"After that, in a telephone conversation, Ms. Merkel asked me, 'Why only at the border, at the contact line? OSCE staff move all over Donbass. Please agree to them always traveling with security, wherever they go, including the border between Russia and Donbass, Russia and Ukraine.'
"I thought about that and replied, 'Yes, you are right. We will agree to that.' We immediately amended the resolution. But now it turns out that that was not enough. Basically, it all comes down to establishing international control over that territory.
"We are not against that but Kiev would have to negotiate with Donbass. And, since we are talking about this, no other similar conflict in the world has ever been resolved only through mediators. Their resolution always required direct contacts between the parties to the conflict. Unfortunately, the current government in Kiev is evading direct contacts with Donbass.
"Now, exchanges. I agree with you. Innocent people are suffering. Do you think it is the fault of Donbass? No. Yesterday there was another shelling by the Ukrainian army. Sometimes even we cannot tell if it is the army or the nationalist battalions.
"As far as I know, the regular Ukrainian army and these nationalist battalions are not always on good terms. Honestly, I understand why. Because true soldiers are there to protect their people and the country from external aggression, not from domestic conflicts, even a tough and complicated conflict like the one in Donbass.
"Now on exchanges. President Poroshenko instructed [Ukrainian oligarch and Pro-Russian politician] Viktor Medvedchuk to deal with this. Mr. Medvedchuk was invited by the Russian Patriarchate to the New Jerusalem Monastery. As there had not been any exchanges for a long time, he asked us to use our influence with the leadership of the two unrecognised republics, the LPR and DPR, to get them to agree to this exchange.
"We worked on that, as you probably know. In fact, it was the first time I had ever spoken to those leaders. They agreed. With the approval of Ukraine (it was their proposal, after all), Medvedchuk brought us the list of 67 people from one side in exchange for around 300 people from the other side. It was Ukraine’s list. It was approved.
"I want you to understand that this is what actually happened. I am not distorting facts. Then, out of the blue, they said no, this is not right, we need to change the list. They stalled the process again. Look, can we do it already? Then we can move forward. We should really do this act of kindness since it is the holiday season.
"Now about Saakashvili. I think that what Saakashvili is doing is a slap in the face to both the Georgian and Ukrainian people. How can you still tolerate this? Here is a man who was the president of the independent Georgian state, and now he is running from square to square yelling for the whole world to hear: I am a Ukrainian! Are there no genuine Ukrainians in Ukraine? And Ukraine puts up with all this. It is such a pity to see. My heart bleeds.
"Now about us being far removed or close. I know that you will probably not agree with this but each person has his own position. The development of the Slavic world was complicated. Russia’s development was also difficult. It was formed by many Slavic tribes – 16 or 32. Eventually ancient Rus emerged, and Kiev became part of it and the center of it. In this sense our historical, spiritual and other roots entitle me to say that basically we are one and the same people. But, of course, you may not agree with me.
"One more thing is clear. Being close to Russia’s western border, Ukraine developed accordingly and has many wonderful unique features in its language and culture – in everything. They are all cherished in Russia and considered to be part of our own culture.
"In the 19th century some people started saying that Ukraine ought to be independent and self-sufficient. Did they have the right to say this? Yes, they did, especially considering that they lived in an empire where there was probably some forced Russification. But for Ukraine this was the least important thing because after all it is an Orthodox country. This was important at that time. Let me recall that passports identified religion rather than ethnic origin. There was no difference at all between a Russian and a Ukrainian.
"Ukraine became part of the Russian empire in 1645. Russia incorporated three of its regions. Speaking in today’s language this was around Kiev, Chernigov and today’s Zhitomir – the latter had a different name. As part of the Russian empire, Ukraine received more territory as a result of different events, such as Russian-Turkish wars and later on World War II.
"But in 1922, 1923, and 1924 the Bolsheviks decided for some reason that all territories adjacent to Ukraine’s historical part should become a new republic – Ukraine. All Black Sea regions became part of it. After WWII it incorporated Western regions. This is how it all worked out.
"But in 1954 Crimea was transferred there in violation of the Soviet Union law in force at the time, according to which such decision had to be approved by the Supreme Soviet of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR). The decision was made by the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet.
"I will not say anything further. The people of Crimea made their own decision, I am sure we will get over this. Some people believe that it is better for Ukraine to develop as an independent state. So be it. If people believe so, this should be done and supported. It is absolutely pointless and counterproductive to try and suppress this opinion.
"But let me emphasize that the entire world is taking a different path. People of different ethnic origin and religion are increasingly drawing closer to each other. This is happening both in Europe and Asia and also in North America – everywhere in the world.
"As I said once, we were divided and then set against each other. We must come to understand what benefits both Ukraine and Russia and what is counterproductive. Let us ponder this together."
 See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 7218, Reactions To Putin's Announcement That He Is Running For A Fourth Term, December 10, 2017.
 See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 7156, Reactions To Russian 'It Girl' Sobchak's Candidacy For 2018 Russian Presidential Elections, October 31, 2017.
See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 7166, The Improbable Candidates Contesting Russia's Presidential Elections, November 7, 2017.
 Sobchakprotivvseh.ru, December 15, 2017.