Got a question for Vladimir Putin? You’ll have to wait until next year to ask it.
The Russian president’s annual call-in show, “Direct Line,” wrapped up earlier today, with Putin taking questions from callers, studio audience members, and people who submitted queries online—more than 2 million, according to the organizers—before the broadcast.
It was the 15th edition of the show for Putin, who spent four hours discussing the state of the economy, foreign relations, and much else besides. Since a four-hour-and-47-minute blowout in 2013, the president has kept the event closer to the same length as today.
The show is tightly managed, and touchy subjects—such as the anti-Kremlin protests that took place earlier this week—are dealt with obliquely, if at all. That said, some unusually critical comments that came in via text and online submissions were flashed up on the screen at times.
The catchiest comment from today’s broadcast is Putin’s sarcastic offer of asylum for former FBI director James Comey, whom he likened to the American whistleblower Edward Snowden—currently living in Russia—for making private information public via the media. (That exchange comes at the 2 hour, 33 minute mark in the video below.)
Putin batted away any suggestions that Russia interfered in the US election, citing a lack of evidence. An American man called into the show from Arizona, asking Putin how to deal with the “racist Russophobia” he said was rampant in the US.
Towards the end of the broadcast, Putin often rattles through a series of light-hearted questions. This year, we learned that the biggest fish Putin ever caught was 20 kilograms (44 pounds), that he thinks there are too many foreign players in Russia’s professional soccer league, and that he believes handshakes don’t determine the strength of a leader (a sly dig at Donald Trump’s arm-ripping handshake).
Another “question” the president read out was simply a statement. “Everything will be fine,” it read. His answer: “I confirm this.”