Putin: Orbán is Not a Pro-Russian Politician

  • 18 Dec 2023 7:32 AM
Putin: Orbán is Not a Pro-Russian Politician
According to the Russian president, Russia’s war aims remain unchanged: they will continue to strive for the denazification and demilitarization of Ukraine.

Vladimir Putin has begun his customary end-of-year marathon press conference, where, contrary to normal procedure, ordinary people, members of the opposition and Western media representatives can ask questions of the president.

This also signifies that the Russian leadership believes the war is going well for them, since last year - following the successful Ukrainian counteroffensive in the autumn - the press conference was cancelled.

The Kremlin's optimistic mood is supported by the fact that during the press conference broadcast by Sky News, Putin first boasted about the invincibility of the Russian economy, then stated that the war will continue until they achieve their goals which, according to him, have not changed since the outbreak of the war—namely, continuing to strive for the denazification and demilitarization of Ukraine.

He also claimed that soldiers reporting from the frontlines convey the same optimistic view, speaking of the imminent defeat of the enemy and appraoching victory.

When asked, Putin stated that he did not consider Viktor Orbán to be a pro-Russian politician, but rather someone who represents the interests of his own country - unlike other EU leaders.

Returning to the war, Putin explained that the Ukrainian army's counterattacks have failed everywhere, and they are now concentrating their artillery fire on a very narrow strip on the left bank of the Dnieper. He said they are forcing their people into attacks, and that these people will die; he then talked about the foolish and irresponsible Ukrainian leadership, clearly referring to Volodymyr Zelensky.

The Russian president also mentioned that currently, there are 244,000 Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine, and in light of this, he does not see the point in ordering another wave of mobilization. He praised the performance of mobilized soldiers stating that of the 300,000 enlisted last autumn, 14 have already received the Hero of Russia award. Regarding recruitment, Putin stated that there are no problems since 1,500 people volunteer on a daily basis to join the Russian army.

The press conference took a surreal turn when an elderly woman complained to the president about the soaring prices of chicken breast and eggs due to inflation, pleading with Putin to pity the elderly who do not have million-dollar pensions.

In response, the president first stated that according to the minister of agriculture, egg prices are reasonable, and he then proceeded to talk about how much he loves eggs, claiming he could eat a dozen for breakfast. In conclusion, he stated that the increased demand for eggs was due to rises in salaries, without a corresponding increase in egg production. According to Putin, the situation will improve once they import larger quantities from Belarus and Turkey.

Valerie Hopkins, a New York Times correspondent in Moscow, noted that this is the first time since the outbreak of the war that Western journalists have been allowed to attend such an event. Putin joked, deflecting the suggestion that his press secretary, Peskov, is keeping journalists away from him, saying, "I am a democrat."

The American journalist then inquired about the fate of Evan Gershkovich, a Wall Street Journal reporter who has been held for 37 weeks without a trial in Russia, along with another American in prison for years. Hopkins asked if their release would improve US-Russian relations.

"Why did they commit crimes on Russian soil? They shouldn't have done that," replied Putin, emphasizing it is not that they do not want to return these individuals, but that it is necessary to find a solution acceptable to both parties.

A participant took on an apocalyptic tone, speaking about hospitals collapsing before their eyes. Identifying himself as Igor Sverdlovsk, he mentioned the poor state of Russian healthcare and inadequate treatment for people, seeking the president's help. Putin briefly promised to "look into the matter."

The questions and comments displayed on the screen behind Putin differed from the usual media landscape in Russia, being critical of the government, Putin himself, and even the war. "When will they do something to improve the lives of ordinary people beyond speeches?" " A bad peace is better than a good struggle." "When will the special military operation end?"

The moderators, despite their efforts, ignored these questions and comments. However, the fact that millions are seeing these statements on Russian TV marks an interesting deviation from everyday practices in Russia.

Putin engaged in a conversation with an AI-driven cyber version of himself. On this topic, he spoke about the impossibility of stopping the development of artificial intelligence, emphasizing the need to be at its forefront if they can not prevent the process happening.

The press conference lasted for four hours, and finally, Putin apologized for not being able to answer every question, before the event was concluded.

Proofready by language editor Marion Merrick / Now You See It, Now You Don’t  / Surprising Expats / Budapest Retro

 Original source: hvg.hu

 MTI Photo: Zoltán Máthé

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