15:10 Robert Coalson
Putin reads a question from someone who asks why the people weren't consulted in giving up socialism and goes into a speech about the collapse of the Soviet Union.
15:10 Merhat Sharipzhan
Putin on his order to give passports to Ukrainian citizens from Donbas:
'There are several laws that simplify the obtainment of Russian citizenship by Ukrainian citizens, not only those who are residing in Russia, but also those living in other countries, including those in Ukraine itself.'
15:07 Robert Coalson
Moderator asks Putin if he'll 'make the first step' in establishing relations with new Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. Putin says that Zelenskiy must do something to resolve issues. Criticizes Zelenskiy for saying he won't talk to 'separatist formations.' Putin says Zelenskiy needs to lift the 'blockade' between the regions outside government control and the rest of the country.
15:05 Robert Coalson
They then switch to a correspondent in Tatarstan who is in the apartment of a family of 'refugees' from Ukraine's Donbas region with 10 children. One of the kids shows a shell fragment that fell on her school. Then he interviews the father who is having trouble registering as a refugee because of his large number of children. The father asks Putin to expand his order on simplifying the process of applying for Russian citizenship to include people from areas not controlled by Russia-backed separatists and who are already in Russia. Putin says he will look at the order and see how it can be improved.
15:00 Merhat Sharipzhan
'The law is not about limitations on the Internet. The majority of servers are based abroad. If the servers are switched off or are influenced, we have be to be ready to withstand it. The law is about that.'
14:59 Carl Schreck
Another version of Bingo for Putin's call-in show (courtesy of his friends over at Khodorkovsky's media outlet): 'Thaw Bingo,' a reference to discussions about whether the Kremlin is loosening the screws after some recent surprising turns in politically charged criminal cases.
The ticked boxes include 'Jamon' -- a reference to Western delicacies banned by Russia -- which Putin addressed earlier, and '228,' the drug-related criminal statute at the center of the recent case of Ivan Golunov. Left un-ticked so far include: Navalny, Torture, Chechnya LGBT, and Katerina Tikhonova (Putin's daughter).
14:58 Robert Coalson
Another caller raises the topic of the new law on Russia's 'sovereign Internet.' Asks Putin to 'honestly' answer why this law was adopted. Putin said the law is not about limitations on the Internet. Putin raises the U.S. actions against Chinese tech company Huawei in his explanation of why this law is needed.
14:54 Robert Coalson
Another caller asks about a recent law introducing fines for posting 'fake news' on the Internet. Putin defends the law, saying it is targeted at 'the intentional distribution of information known to be fake.'
14:54 Merhat Sharipzhan
On the recent law against defaming officials: 'The law is not about banning criticizing officials. The law is about preventing desecration of Russia's state symbols.... Nobody has the right to misuse that law' to persecute people.
14:51 Robert Coalson
Moderator then summarizes a lot of questions about the problem of fining or jailing people for posting things on the Internet that are 'insulting' to the government or government officials. A blogger asks Putin where is the boundary between insult and criticism. Putin says people must have the right to draw attention to problems, but says the law is aimed to prevent people from insulting the flag and other state symbols. Again, he says this happens in 'many other countries,' mentions Germany. But he then says officials shouldn't use the law to prevent people from criticizing officials at any level.
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