In an interview with Channel One and the Associated Press, the Russian president talks about Syria, Obama, Snowden and the LGBT community.

Vladimir Putin: “We believe that we should at least wait for the results of the investigations conducted by the United Nations Inspection Commission.” Photo: Reuters

Before the G20 Summit, in an interview with Channel One and the Associated Press, Russian President Vladimir Putin talked about his attitude toward the conflict in Syria and the former CIA officer Edward Snowden.

Putin also invited LGBT community representatives to meet with him. The Russian president also discussed what the G20 Summit will be about and mentioned that he would like to meet with the U.S. president there.

On Syria

“We believe that we should at least wait for the results of the investigations conducted by the United Nations Inspection Commission. Even in the U.S. there are experts who believe the evidence provided by the current administration is not conclusive and does not rule out the possibility that the opposition carried out a pre-planned provocative act to try to give their patrons an excuse for military intervention. In accordance with applicable international law, use of weapons against a sovereign state can only be authorized by the U.N. Security Council. Any other causes or methods that would justify the use of force against an independent and sovereign state are unacceptable and can only be classified as aggression.”

 “There are no restrictions imposed by the U.N. on the supply of weapons to Syria. We have set the individual components of the S-300, but the entire delivery has not been completed, as it is suspended. However, if we see that steps are taken in relation to the violation of existing international standards, we will think about what to do in the future, including the supply of weapons. Of course, we are not going to get involved in any conflicts.”

On the G20

“The G20 Summit is devoted to the discussion of the world’s economic problems — the fight against unemployment, corruption and tax crimes. In order to develop the world economy and create new jobs, we have prepared a so-called St. Petersburg Plan. We have agreed on a number of positions in relation to the fight against corruption, and we have agreed on what needs to be done in the fight against offshore investments.”

On Obama's visit

“I would like to see U.S. President Barack Obama visit Moscow, so that we could have an opportunity to discuss the problems that have accumulated. I hope very much that we will have a chance to have a talk with him on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in St. Petersburg. Our previous meetings were very constructive. I am sure that, even if the meeting takes place within the G20, it will be useful. We have many issues to discuss: the disarmament agenda, issues related to the development of the world economy and to North Korea, problems in Iran, the issue of combating terrorism. Our cooperation has not stopped, and I am sure it will continue to develop.”

On the elections

“It is the obligation of the authorities and a matter of the integrity of every official in his post — election commissions, law enforcement officials — to get things going properly, so that people can objectively express their attitudes toward one candidate or another and the people’s will can lead to the formation of efficient and capable government authorities. If these people are ineffective and are those who, by some sort of manipulation, make their way to power, then this will definitely only cause damage to the country as a whole.”

On the courts

“Courts in Russia are independent, of course. If a judge does not want to be independent, there is no independence there: He can pop into the governor’s office, get different peoples’ advice; but I assure you, it’s like that almost everywhere. In general, if the judge takes a principled stand, no one can do anything to him.”

On Snowden

“We are not trying to defend Snowden; we do not have an agreement with the United States on the mutual extradition of criminals. We have repeatedly offered to enter into such an agreement and were refused. I expect that, in the future, we will reach a relevant agreement. It is convenient for U.S. intelligence to present him as a traitor, but he has a totally different mindset: He considers himself a human rights activist. We have no desire to involve him in some kind of cooperation or to get some kind of information out of him.”

On gays

“We do not have laws against people of non-traditional sexual orientation. Russia has adopted a law banning gay propaganda among minors. The people who initiated these laws and who approved this law based their decision on the fact that same-sex marriages do not produce children. Russia is going through a difficult time in terms of demographics.”

“If one of them wants to meet me, he is welcome to do so, but, as of yet, no one has shown the initiative.”

On the Olympics

“Our country has invested perhaps more money in training, in general — but, in fact, [Russia has invested] in the Olympic facilities no more than any other country. Just to prepare for the Olympic Games, 214 billion rubles [$6.4 billion] will be spent. Of this, 100 billion [$3 billion] is purely public funding and 114 billion [$3.4 billion] is investors’ expense. Even more money was spent on the infrastructure. We have done this deliberately, so that the south of Russia will be attractive and comfortable.”

On the case of opposition leader Alexei Navalny

“I do not know this case in detail, but I know that this case resulted in a judgment of conviction. This is not the case where an opposition representative is seized because he is criticizing the power — that is something to think and talk about for both the court and the law enforcement authorities. If a person is talking about a fight against corruption, he must primarily have an unblemished reputation himself.”

This article first appeared in Russia Beyond The Headlines.