In his first post-inauguration interview, speaking in depth with RT's Kevin Owen
(playing the devil's advocate to a certain extent) ahead of the APEC summit in Vladivostok, Putin discusses various current issues.
These include everything from the upcoming APEC summit, the United Nations, presidential elections in the U.S.A., the death penalty, the clamp down on child pornography, to Russia's views on the Syrian issue.
An extract on discussions on the Syria issue reads as follows:
"Today some want to use militants from Al Qaeda or some other organizations with equally radical views to accomplish their goals in Syria. This policy is dangerous and very short-sighted. In that case, one should unlock Guantanamo, arm all of its inmates and bring them to Syria to do the fighting – it's practically the same kind of people. But what we should bear in mind is that one day these people will get back at their former captors. On the other hand, these same people should bear in mind that they will eventually end up in a new prison, very much like the one off the Cuban shore."
Both Asia and the Middle East are discussed in depth, and the two men even touch on issues such as the Pussy Riot trial and what Putin calls the U.K.'s double standards on the issue of Julian Assange.
An extract on discussions of Assange reads:
"This certainly is an unsettling factor in our relations with the UK. I used to tell my previous counterparts and friends in the British government – not those holding office at the moment – that Britain happens to be harboring certain individuals who have blood on their hands, having waged a real war on Russian territory and slaughtered people. I told them, “Just imagine what it would be like if Russia were to harbor militants from, say, the Irish Republican Army – not those negotiating and pursuing a compromise with the government these days (those are perfectly sane and sensible people), but those with a radical agenda.” You know what I was told in response? “But that’s exactly what the Soviet Union used to do, aiding people like that.”
"We are constantly lectured on how independent Britain’s judiciary is. It makes its own decisions, and no one can influence that. What about Julian Assange? They have ruled to have him extradited. What is it if not an evident example of a double standard? I won’t make a definitive statement, but as far as I know, Ecuador has requested guarantees from the Swedish government that Sweden wouldn’t hand over Assange to the United States. No guarantees have so far been provided. At the very least, this suggests that we are looking at a politically motivated trial."
On the Pussy Riot trial, an extract reads:
Putin: "Can you translate the first word into Russian? Or maybe it would sound too obscene? Yes, I think you wouldn’t do it because it sounds too obscene, even in English."
RT: "I actually thought it was referring to a cat, but I’m getting your point here. Do you think the case was handled wrongly in any way, could some lesson have been learned?"
A very interesting interview, definitely worth listening to. The full transcript of the interview can be read here