Ahead of Russian Press Day marked on January 13, Vladimir Putin met with heads of Russian print media and news agencies in the editorial office of the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper. The discussion focused on current professional issues. The President congratulated media representatives on their professional holiday.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon. I congratulate you all on your professional holiday. Press Day, right?

Editor-in-chief of the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper Vladimir Sungorkin: Russian Press Day.

Vladimir Putin: My congratulations to all those involved in this wonderful profession, an interesting, very important, difficult and, sadly, occasionally a dangerous one, but very important. I congratulate you and wish all the best to you, to all your colleagues, to everyone who works at both print and electronic media outlets, in internet media.

People in your trade are interesting, unconventional, creative, and often very talented. I would like to express my hope that all those qualities, all the talent and efforts will serve the good of society and Russian citizens.

Remark: Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: I will conclude my short speech, my introductory remarks, on that note. Let us just have a talk, as we oftentimes do at meetings like this.

Vladimir Sungorkin: Mr President, thank you for coming to Komsomolskaya Pravda.

I have a question for you not as the President, but as a presidential candidate. This year, we will have, I think, a record number of those who wish to lead our dear mother Russia. What are your thoughts on the large number of potential candidates? Do they motivate you, or just the opposite? What are your feelings on going up against 15 rivals, I believe?

Vladimir Putin: I think it is normal and good. To some degree, the pre-election period always strains society, because, unfortunately, there is also a lot of “foam” bubbling up, but still it is good because it gives people a chance and a reason to speak out, to discuss how different people approach these problems.

In general, I think it’s useful. It keeps the discussion fresh and sharpens it. The main thing is to do everything according to the law, as well as certain ethical and moral values. This is the most important element; and on the whole these campaigns I have just mentioned, while they have downsides, they still benefit society. This is why I welcome it. I will be glad to see and to hear interesting, elegant and useful proposals for the country’s development.

Editor-in-chief of the Kommersant newspaper Sergei Yakovlev: Mr President, I would like to continue with the topic of the election.

Alexei Navalny was not allowed to participate in the election. We immediately heard criticism from Washington and a number of European capitals. I would like to know what you think about this and how you see the situation?

Vladimir Putin: First, I would like to say that no one likes when others interfere with their internal political affairs. Our American friends particularly do not like it. We can see their reaction even to unreliable information on our interference, we can see how sharp the reaction has been, aggressive even, I would say. The experience of American election campaigns shows that they hardly allow anyone in.

Source: President of Russia Website Kremlin Moscow http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/deed.enKorea.