Moskovsky Komsomolets, July 16, 2001, p. 2

Before every foreign trip Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with journalists of the country he intends to visit.

On the eve of his trip to Genoa, where he will take part in the G8 summit, Putin has met with journalists from the RAI-1 TV channel and the newspaper “Corriera della sera.”

Putin is of the opinion that the US’ unilateral withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Treaty (ABT) of 1972 does not worry Russia from the point of view of its own national security. According to the president, even if America’s tests are successful, “it is simply unreal” to intercept 1,000 missiles at a time. At the same time, if the US unilaterally violates ABT, this will automatically denounce START I and START II, as Vladimir Putin noted at the press conference.

Touching on the role of media in the society, the president repeated once again that “a society without free media has no future.” In this connection, the president was asked if it is possible to get rid of oligarchs without hurting media. The Russian president answered affirmatively and added, “It is necessary to separate such an oligarch from the media if he has borrowed a billion dollars, does not want to return this money, and uses the media he controls to blackmail the state or to shift his commercial relations into the place of relations between the state and journalists or into the political plane.”

Answering the question about the catastrophe of the submarine Kursk and commenting on the criticism he was subjected to when he refused to interrupt his vacation in Sochi, he said, “This was a mistake from the PR standpoint. I just did not think about it. I was concerned with the situation of the crew of the submarine.”