В распоряжении Радио Свобода есть полная версия интервью Владимира Путина, которое он дал ведущему Си-Эн-Эн Ларри Кингу.
LARRY KING, HOST: Good evening. Vladimir Putin is the prime minister of Russia.
He previously served as president of the Russian Federation. And it's a great pleasure to welcome
him back to LARRY KING LIVE. Mr. Prime Minister, we thank you for joining us.
We know -- let's start right off -- we know that you're eligible to
run again for the presidency in 2012. Are you thinking about doing that?
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRIME MINISTER: Well, we've been working with the president, Medvedev, in a
very close contact. And we decided a long time ago that we will adopt a
concerted decision as regards the year 2012 in the interests of the
KING: So that is a maybe?
PUTIN: We'll see. There is still quite time before the elections
take place. That should be in April, year 2012. Once again, we will be
in consultations and we will adopt that decision based on the economic,
social and political situation in the country.
KING: OK, let's get to current things.
What do you make of the release of the United States diplomatic and
military documents by the WikiLeaks group?
PUTIN: Some experts believe that somebody is deceiving WikiLeaks,
their reputation is being undermined to use them for their own political
purposes later on. That's one of the possibilities there and this is
the opinion of the experts.
And, also, you have such opinion expressed here. If it's not so,
then it tells us that it's necessary for the diplomatic services to be
more attentive to their cables. Such leaks occurred before, in previous
times. So this is no catastrophe. I don't see this as being a catastrophe.
KING: Well, how about documents that include a cable in which
Defense Secretary Robert Gates of the United States is reported to have
told his French counterpart that Russian democracy has disappeared and
that the government is being run by security services.
What's your response to the American secretary of Defense saying that?
PUTIN: I know Mr. Gates. I met him several times. I believe he's
a very nice person and he is not a bad expert, too. But it is known,
also, that Mr. Gates was one of the leaders of the CIA of the United
States of America before and today he happens to be the secretary of
Defense. Now, if he's the best expert in democracy in the United States
of America, then I congratulate you with that.
KING: So he is wrong in saying that your country is being run by
secret security services?
PUTIN: He's being deeply misled. Our country is led by the people
of the Russian Federation through the legitimately elected government
and the parliament authorities of the president and the prime minister
of the Russian Federation.
Now, as regards democracy, this has been a long-term dispute with
our American colleagues. I'd like to recall the fact that twice --
twice in the history of the United States of America there were cases
when the candidate to the presidency who subsequently became president
of the United States were voted by a majority of electorate with the
delegates representing the lesser number of electorate as a whole.
Is that democracy?
When we are talking with our American friends and tell them, there
are systemic problems in this regard, we can hear from them. Don't
interfere with our affairs. This is our tradition and it's going to
continue like that. We are not interfering.
But to our colleagues, I would also like to advise you, don't
interfere either, that the sovereign choice of the Russian people. The
Russian people have unilaterally made their choice in the direction of
democracy in the early '90s. And we will not be led astray. Nobody
should be having any doubts that Russia has an interest in that and
we'll do that.
Now, as regards the questions posed by Mr. Gates in these diplomatic
cables, that has to do with the evident desire to apply pressure through
the allies in techno specific matters. Such matters arise in big
numbers. They'll say yet, you need to apply pressure to Russia. They
are not democratic. You should do this and that because they are not
democratic. We've heard that thousands of times.
We've started to dismiss such allegations as yet they've been using
it as a tool of the foreign policy of U.S. And I think it's an erroneous
approach to dealing with the Russian Federation.
KING: What, Mr. -- Mr. Prime Minister, is the -- how would you
describe the relationship between you and President Medvedev?
There are some who say, the statement goes that you're Batman
and he's Robin.
PUTIN: Well -- well, you know, when myself and Mr. Medvedev were
deciding on how we will build on our cooperation in the future, now at
present, how we will build on our relationship, when we decided as to
how we should build the electorate campaign for the presidency in the
year 2008, we were fully aware of the fact that many people would try to
introduce a splint in our joint approach to the construction of the
Russian Federation economy and otherwise.
The truth of the matter is, this is about our interaction, which is
an important factor of the domestic policies in this country. But to be
honest with you, we didn't suspect that this would be done with such
arrogance, with such a push and, you know, being so unethically done.
Such assertions, indeed, are aimed to slander one of us, to get under
the skin, to provoke some steps which might disrupt, destroy the
productive interaction in running this country.
I have to tell you that we'll get used to it and I will ask all of
those who would try such attempts to be quiet about it.
KING: We will be right back with the prime minister of Russia,
We'll ask about the situation on the Korean Peninsula, right after this.
KING: We're back with Vladimir Putin, the prime minister of Russia.
It's a great pleasure to have him with him.
I hope someday soon to visit his country and visit with him personally.
The last time he was with us was in New York and we were together.
Tonight, of course, we're by satellite.
What, Mr. Prime Minister, is your assessment of the Korean Peninsula?
Your foreign minister, last week, said: "There's a colossal danger
of an escalation there."
Do you -- do you share that fear?
PUTIN: Yes, indeed. The situation is very worrisome and it's very
acute. And we can't but be worried about that. What has happened there
is happening in the very vicinity of our borders, as it were.
Having said that, we can't allot (ph) on the fact that the prudence
will get the upper hand there. Emotions will be shelved and the
dialogue will be started. Without a dialogue, it is not possible to
come to an agreement.
Jointly with the partners, including the United States of America,
we've been working closely as regards to the settlement of the North
Korean peninsula, having to do with the nuclear programs and settlement
regarding the direction and relations between the two parties involved.
And at different stages of this effort, this work provided us with
different outcomes, sometimes, very positive and impressive results.
And I count a lot that we'll resume this positive trend of action.
KING: Because China has proposed sitting down now, six party talks,
the two Koreas, China, the United States, Russia and Japan sitting down now.
Do you support that?
PUTIN: Well, the president is in charge of our foreign policies and
this question should primarily be addressed to him.
But generally speaking, Russia is interested in the continuation of
KING: Do you think China should do more -- it has a lot of
influence in North Korea -- to rein in North Korea?
PUTIN: Well, you know, this position is taken by the State
Department of the United States. But basically speaking, we all need to
do whatever it takes in order that this situation would be on the track
of normalcy from now on. The Chinese have leverages of impact in
economy, in the first place.
But most importantly, what we need to remember, we should respect
the interests of the Korean people, both in the North and in the South
of that peninsula. We should be patient and we should choose the right
mode of speech with them and work out a unified position there of all
six states involved in this quite complex negotiation process.
The unity of approach is what really matters. It's a guarantee of
our joint success there.
KING: Do you share the concern of many other nations that Iran is
moving toward becoming a nuclear power?
Is Russia OK with that?
PUTIN: The Iranian nuclear program has been implemented for over 20
years now. But as of late, recently, in recent years, Iran has
demonstrated, in various ways, their readiness to engage in dialogue
with the international community, IAEA included. We know that the
initial stages have weakness -- witnessed some activities which raised
questions and we supported IAEA to get exhaustive answers to those
You certainly know that we are concerned with any expression of the
proliferation or any possibility, theoretical possibility, of
proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. This relates to
absolutely all states, including Iran.
Having said that, we don't have any grounds to suspect Iran in the
sense that they seek to possess nuclear arms. But we have been
cooperating with all our partners, including the U.S. of America, in the
frameworks of the United Nations organizations. And, as you know, up
until now, we've been able to adopted concerted decisions.
Our position is open and Iran is aware of our position and we will
continue to cooperate with all of the participants of this process up
until the final settlement of that problem. And I count greatly on the
fact that this settlement will occur. And I believe that this is the
interest of the neighbors of Iran, Israel, who are very much afraid of
the Iranian programs, other participants and neighbors.
But Iran also, and the Iranian people, as well, I don't see this in
any way as being prejudiced or undermining the interests of Iran if they
were to fully open all their programs and satisfy the legitimate
interests of the international organization, IAEA. That is in their effort.
KING: We'll take a break and we'll...
PUTIN: I don't see that as being a...
PUTIN: -- scary. At the same time, I still maintain that Iran has
a right to implement nuclear programs under the oversight of the
KING: All right.
When we come back, we'll ask about the possible ratification or
non-ratification of the treaty between the United States and Russia.
Don't go away.
KING: We're back with Prime Minister Putin.
A great pleasure to welcome him to LARRY KING LIVE.
Well, we're -- there's a lot of concern now about this new treaty.
Your President Medvedev warned that there would be a new arms race if
NATO and Moscow don't agree on a joint missile shield.
And what happens to the relations between the two countries.
Will there be another arms race if the United States doesn't ratify?
PUTIN: No. Talking today before the federal assembly, the
President Medvedev mentioned the fact that we have just put forward a
proposal as to how jointly working, all of us, tackling the joint
problem of security, could share responsibility between ourselves. And
this problem should be necessarily dealt with through this joint effort
in the first place.
But if our proposals will be met with negative answers only and on
top of that, at the (INAUDIBLE) borders will be built additional threats
as to this new version of the third tense (ph) region there, Russia will
have to ensure her own security through different means and ways, to put
in place a new striking forces against the threats which will have been
built there, against the new threats which will have been created along
our borders. The new missile nuclear technologies will be put in
place. That's not our choice. We don't want that to happen. But this
is not a threat on our part. We've been simply saying that this is what
expects all of us to happen if we don't agree on a joint effort there.
Once again, we don't want this to happen at all.
KING: Well, you're saying it's not a threat, but it does sound like
a threat. "The Wall Street Journal" today reporting that America
believes you're moving short-range tactical nuclear warheads near NATO
alley -- allies, rather -- as recently as this spring.
Was that true?
PUTIN: Larry, please listen to me now. I want you and all American
people to know this. Please, those spectators who will follow our
program here, it's not us who are moving forward our missiles to your
territory, it's you who are planning to mount missiles at the vicinity
of our borders, of our territory. We have been told that you'll do it
in order to secure you against the, let's say, Iranian nuclear threat.
But such a threat, as of now, doesn't exist. Now, if the radars and
counter-missiles will be deployed in the year 2012 along our borders or
15, they will work against our nuclear potential there, our nuclear
arsenal. And certainly that worries us and we are obliged to take some
actions in response.
We are talking about action in response, not about taking the first
initiative there. And in Lisbon, the President Medvedev was very
specific in his proposals, boiling down the fact that part of
responsibility for ensuring security in Europe should be taken upon by
NATO and part of responsibility, of joint responsibility, that is,
should be taken upon by Russia. And here to say we could agree with
NATO, and that's to say, with the United States, too, on the exchange of
information, on joint control over those facilities, the military
experts can agree upon all those things, if a good will is to be
But if, in a very dumb nature, people (INAUDIBLE) would ignore your
interests, we'll do whatever we want to do there, and then we will
regard that as a threat to ourselves. Then we'll have to react somehow.
I want the American public to hear this.
KING: And you've said it straight.
And we'll be right back with more of the prime minister of Russia,
Vladimir Putin, after this.
KING: We will touch some other bases with -- with the prime
minister, Vladimir Putin, of Russia, coming to us tonight from Moscow.
What -- what's your assessment of President Obama?
PUTIN: Such assessment is to be provided by the electorate, by the
people who voted for him, basically, American citizens first.
But looking from aside to provide an expert assessment there,
generally speaking, I might as well say that the President Obama has
been confronted with a very serious challenges as it's (INAUDIBLE) right
now, especially in the sphere of the economy. It's not up to me to
judge whether he has taken the right or wrong steps when he passed
through the parliament the law on health care, for one.
But I didn't doubt the fact that in this particular case, very
sensitive for Americans, too, Obama did whatever he could to respond to
the aspirations of the American people, who had been understood by him
and formulated as his electorate campaign platform. He promised to do
that. He did it.
As regards his foreign activities, we are thankful to him for the
fact that he has softened the rhetoric in the US-Russia relations. And
in virtual, in practical terms, he put further away this idea of the
third defense region in Europe approach, which provided us with the
possibility for dialogue we've wanted some time there to try and
implement this very plan, which was put forward by the president,
Medvedev, in Lisbon.
KING: This is puzzling -- 10 Russian sleeper agents
were arrested in the United States earlier this year then sent back to
Russia in a spy swap. You met with them after their deportation.
What -- what was your impression?
I mean you -- you were very involved with the KGB.
What -- what was this all about?
What did the -- what did they tell you?
PUTIN: Well, basically, as regards to strictly business, we had a
word. But, yes, we talked to different topics with them.
What can I tell you now?
These are the people who naturally deserve respect.
As I said it before, I can repeat it again, with activities, they
didn't cause any harm to the interests of the United States of America.
As you know, they belonged to a special service -- a clandestine
service with their own tests to tackle. These tests, as a rule, become
pertinent in the crisis periods, like when the diplomatic relations
would have been suspended or cut. Thank god such a status of affairs we
have not witnessed in the relations between Russia and the U.S. today.
And I hope it will never occur in our relations in the future.
KING: So they do know what you would call spying under your direction?
PUTIN: They had their own tasks to address. They are involved in
the clandestine activities, the main purpose of which is to be actively
involved during the crisis times and when the diplomatic ties are
suspended, when other means of intelligence service are not efficient or
sometimes are not possible.
These folks, once again, did not cause any harm to the interests of
the United States of America.
Having said that, any country, including the United States of
America, is engaged in intelligence gathering. Nobody doubts that. And
incidentally, the activities of our services -- of secret services that
our compared to the U.S. services, looking much better, thanks God.
Neither these agents, or others, were seen as organizing clandestine
prisons or hostage taking or torturing people.
KING: we will ask the prime minister about Afghanistan and other
things; ask him about George Bush's new book; ask him, as well, about
whether the World Cup might come to Moscow in 2018.
Lots more ahead.
Don't go away.
KING: We're back with Prime Minister Putin.
The former USSR spent nine years fighting in Afghanistan. In fact,
I believe we discussed this the last time we were together, 10 years
ago. They spent -- your country spent there without victory. Some
called it the Soviet Union's Vietnam.
Do you think the United States will do any better in Afghanistan?
PUTIN: First, I don't think it would be right to make such a
comparison with regards to Afghanistan. Our troops withdrew from
Afghanistan in an organized, quiet manner. And after the withdrawal of
our troops, the regime, which had been supported by the Soviet Union,
lasted for three years in a quiet mode (INAUDIBLE). It was destroyed by
Taliban, virtually after the collapse of the Soviet Union, when there
was no longer any support to be provided by the former Soviet Union to them.
I believe that the Soviet Union made many mistakes there. The
blunder was the fact that the (INAUDIBLE) Soviet troops were there in
the first place. It was not the thing to do. That's evident.
Now, as regards the current presence of American troops and of the
international coalition troops in Afghanistan, indeed, the situation has
seriously changed there. Likewise, you cannot compare our presence in
Afghanistan with Vietnam. In the same manner, you cannot compare the
U.S. and international presence in Afghanistan today with the Soviet
presence in the late '80s there.
Well, you know, I would think that the international coalition in
Afghanistan today is carrying out an important and positive mission. We
cannot and shall not be present there militarily ourselves. But we have
been rendering assistance both to the American partners and other
partners of the international coalition in Afghanistan in various ways
We have agreed to ensure transit and we have been doing that,
including not only by air, but also by surface. We've been relating
important pertinent information, including we have started, through our
special services, which you have mentioned a few minutes earlier. This
could be related to an absolute positive side of our interaction.
There were instances when our helicopter fliers took out American
and Dutch military stuff from the battlefield being fired on by the
enemy. And there are other means to support the international efforts
For example, assisting the government in office and the armed forces
of Afghanistan. This is a whole set -- a big set of joint work there.
We count on the fact that this effort will bear positive fruit.
KING: All right, let's discuss the former president, George Bush,
in his new memoir, "Decision Points," he calls you -- he describes you
as sometimes cocky, sometimes charming, always tough. He also calls you
wily and cold-blooded. Earlier, though, he said when he had first met
you, he looked into your eyes and he saw a vibrant soul there, I'm --
that's paraphrasing what he said.
What was your relationship with the former president?
PUTIN: They were warm relations, good, kind, human relationship.
He visited me in my house. I visited him in his house, including at his
ranch house. We have different views on many issues involved, of
course. But one thing is for sure, George Bush the junior is a very
decent fellow. I think he's a very nice partner, too.
KING: You -- so I'm gathering you liked him a lot?
PUTIN: And he has a very good family. I was very pleased when I
visited his father's house in human terms. Yes. But still, we had
different approaches while dealing with the same questions at hand.
KING: Will you read his book?
PUTIN: I know some of the aspects of this book already. I don't
agree fully with what he has written there, of course. But I'm sure he
has forgotten a few things. If we meet with him, I will remind you of
certain things, too.
KING: We'll take a break and we'll be right back with Prime
Minister Putin right after this.
KING: We're back with Prime Minister Putin.
I know that you're working on your English, Mr. Prime Minister. You
-- you spoke in English at an International Olympic Committee meeting.
You did an interview with Matthew Chance for CNN two years ago and spoke
Are you ready to come out in English?
PUTIN: My English is very bad.
PUTIN: While I'm talking with you, it's better to be accurate and
not to admit any mistakes.
PUTIN: Now, with my teacher, we've been studying several English
songs we are trying to sing. That's like a game. It's not even like
doing any studies. That's revisiting some studies as a recreation on my
But, indeed, if we meet with you when you visit us here in Moscow, I
will try to talk with you in English. And I can understand quite a lot,
which allows me, sometimes without an interpreter, to deal with my
colleagues, you know, in a semi business manner.
KING: OK. Later this week, FIFA will announce which country will
host the 2018 World Cup, do you think you have a good chance to host it?
PUTIN: Yes, I do think we have such chances and I proceed from the
assumption that our contenders will make an emphasis on the fact that
they are ready to go with the World Cup already.
But why do we need to hold the World Cup?
Well, they already have everything in place. The philosophy of FIFA
is to expand world soccer space, to spread out the world football
space. In Eastern Europe, there has never been a case of World Cup
being staged there. Therefore, we are a very natural contender.
Our problem is, however, about the fact that as of late, during this
competition race, I'm sure the FIFA members have been slandered,
absolutely groundlessly. They want to compromise that organization.
And this is exactly the organization who are involved in not only
organizing a soccer features and soccer games, they're currently
fulfilling a very important social program to really advertise a healthy
mode of life, putting aside alcoholism among youngsters, but also
building on the relationship between peoples and space.
It's a very important function they have.
KING: Who will -- who...
PUTIN: And we count greatly on the fact that the members of FIFA
will adopt the relevant decision in favor of Russia's choice.
KING: Who is slandering them?
PUTIN: In a competitive straight (ph), many people try to do that.
We are aware of the fact that there has been a lot of information
surfacing in the BBC, but the allegation is one thing. You have to
prove the case.
I believe that this is not a right manner of competition for the
right to hold this World Cup, as it were.
KING: Will you -- will -- will you go to Zurich to make a personal
PUTIN: Well, I've been reflecting on that. But I believe that
under the current circumstances, when these FIFA members are being
attacked like that, when attempts are being manned to -- made to
compromise them, we need to give these people a chance to develop an
objective decision without any pressure from outside.
I've been enjoying...
KING: All right, we'll be right back...
PUTIN: -- the sport through all my life. I love soccer.
KING: All right, let me...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
KING: -- let me get a break on time.
We'll be right back with more of the prime minister following this.
KING: Something, Mr. Prime Minister, I don't think you've ever been
asked. We have quite a dispute about it in America.
What is the Russian policy toward gays and lesbians in your military?
PUTIN: Well, I'd like to finalize my statement regarding whether I
go to Zurich or not.
PUTIN: I think it would be better for me not to be there prior to
KING: I've got (INAUDIBLE).
PUTIN: -- so that it would not appear as an element of pressurizing
their decision on my part.
KING: I gathered that.
PUTIN: No, as regards to the attitude toward gays and lesbians,
well, you know, I once tried to -- to answer similar questions before.
We in Russia, like generally speaking in Europe, for that matter, the
question is very acute with regards to demography. We've been
undertaking very serious efforts to change the situation somehow. And
we've been able to do that.
I believe that we probably have the best results with the speed of
the change in demography. For the first time over 10 or 15 years, we
have witnessed a very stable trend of growth of birth rates in our
country and at the end of this year, we'll have some growth of population.
And one gender marriages will not give you offsprings. Therefore,
we are very patient through the sexual minorities, but still we believe
that the state should support the processes having to do with the birth
rate, mother and child care, infancy and take care of the health of
KING: But are gays permitted to actively serve in your military and
be able to say they are gay?
PUTIN: There are no prohibitions.
KING: Do we...
PUTIN: In the Soviet Union, that was about criminal responsibility
for same gender sex. Now, there are no prohibitions or bans on that score.
KING: And we'll be back with our remaining moments with the prime
minister of Russia -- we thank him so much for granting us this time --
following these words.
KING: Some personal questions in our remaining moments, Mr. Prime
And, again, I hope next year to visit and spend some time with you
in Moscow and bring the family, as well.
You seem to keep your family life private. Many of our viewers may
not know that you have two daughters.
Why -- why do you tend to shield the family?
PUTIN: Unfortunately, there are so many problems regarding
terrorism. So we must think about security of the members of our
family, and first and foremost, our children, my daughters. They live a
normal usual life. But they are university students. They're happy.
They have friends. So everything is OK.
But to put them through the public lighter is not what I think is
right or not what they want.
KING: Mr. Prime Minister, I thank you so much.
I look forward to seeing you again soon on your soil.
PUTIN: Larry, I invite you. I await you here in Moscow. You've
never visited Moscow and I am positive you will like it.
KING: I thank you again so much.
Putin: Can I ask you one question?
Putin: I don’t know why, but the king leaves the scene at the US stage
Larry: I sometimes don’t know why myself
Putin: At the U.S. stage, in the U.S. mass media there are many talented and interesting people, but still there is just one king there. I don’t ask why he is leaving, but still what do you think? When shall we have a right to cry out, “long live the king”? When will there be another man who is as popular in the whole world as you happen to be?
Larry: Thank you, thank you, I have no answer. Vladimir Putin, prime minister of Russia.
Tomorrow night, the former heavyweight champion of the world, Mike Tyson.