Putin says Russia, U.S. must work on security after Boston bombs

Russian President Vladimir Putin takes part in a live broadcast nationwide phone-in in Moscow April 25, 2013. Putin played down differences with his government over economic policy on Thursday and
Russian President Vladimir Putin takes part in a live broadcast nationwide phone-in in Moscow April 25, 2013. Putin played down differences with his government over economic policy on Thursday and

President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday the Boston bombing proved his tough line on insurgents in the North Caucasus was justified and that Russia and the United States must step up cooperation on security.

After receiving almost 2 million questions from the Baltic Sea to Russia’s far east, Putin used his annual “hotline” dial-in to present the image of a man still in control a year into his third term and not afraid of criticism at home and abroad.

“If we truly join our efforts together, we will not allow these strikes and suffer such losses,” he said in the phone-in, which critics say is looking increasingly outdated as he fields often predictable questions from loyal factory workers, airforce pilots and struggling mothers.

But this time he made sure there were some critical voices in the audience, with former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin taking him to task over economic decline. Putin shrugged off his criticism by jokingly calling him a “slacker”.

Looking stern and occasionally shifting forward in his chair to make a point, Putin took questions on issues ranging from pensions and roads to the ethnic Chechens suspected of carrying out the Boston Marathon bombings.

He avoided criticizing the U.S. failure to prevent the bombings despite Russian concerns about the brothers, but he took the chance to justify using heavy force against Islamist militants who oppose Russian rule in the North Caucasus.

“We have always said that action is needed and not declarations. Now two criminals have confirmed the correctness of our thesis,” the former KGB spy said.

Putin, who first asserted his authority by crushing a Chechen independence bid in a war over a decade ago, has long said the United States underestimates the security threat posed by the Islamist militants and rejected international accusations that Moscow’s use of force in the region has been heavy-handed.

His remarks underlined his intention to use heightened concern over security to win closer cooperation with the United States in the run-up to the Sochi Winter Olympics next February.

The Olympics are a pet project for Putin and intended as a showcase of what Russia can achieve. A fatal attack on the Games would put those efforts in doubt.

PM’S DISMISSAL UNLIKELY

Putin, 60, was taking part in his first phone-in with the Russian public since returning to the presidency last May after four years as prime minister.

The phone-in, broadcast nationwide, has been an almost annual event since 2001 – he did not do one last year.

Critics say the format has become outmoded and shows Russia has not moved with the times under Putin, who is accused by the opposition of being out of touch and allowing the country to stagnate economically and politically.

But Putin, whose approval rating still hovers above 60 percent, spoke fluently and looked at ease as he reeled off figures and answered questions – all of which he appeared to expect – as he sat at a desk behind a laptop in a suit and tie.

One of his aims was clearly to show he has reasserted his grip on power, which was undermined just over a year ago during the biggest street protests since he first rose to power.

The protests have since dwindled and the opposition remains disjointed although critics accuse him of violating human rights with a clampdown on dissenters.

Putin also used the call-in to play down suggestions that he disagrees with his government over economic policy and show he will not respond to calls to dismiss Dmitry Medvedev, the long-time ally whom he replaced as president last year.

There has been speculation for months in the media and among political analysts that Putin could make Medvedev a scapegoat if Russia’s economy continues to slide towards recession.

But in response to a question, Putin said: “There is no division between the government and the president, or the presidential administration (on the economy).”

He acknowledged there may be many complaints about the government’s work but, indicating it needed time to prove itself, he said: “The people have only been in their jobs about a year.”



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Local

De Blasio, Bratton defend city's efforts after Eric…

Mayor Bill de Blasio justified the city's response to the death of Eric Garner, a Staten Island man who died while in police custody earlier this month.

National

PHOTO: New Zealand Heral uses wrong image to…

The New Zealand Herald made a terrible mistake of using the wrong image to illustrate the tragic death of Staff Sergeant Guy Boyland – a New Zealand-born Israeli soldier who…

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

MLB

Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.