Putin: Russian economy has moved to period of growth

And he joked that if former-FBI director James Comey suffers persecution for falling-out with President Donald Trump, Moscow will grant him asylum. This does sound and look odd: "The director of a security service making records of his talks with the supreme commander and handing it over to the media through a friend of his".

President Trump dismissed Mr. Comey last month, citing his unhappiness with the FBI's continuing probe into charges of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible collusion between Russian agents and members of the Trump campaign.

According to Sputnik News, President Putin said: "We all know that growth [in agriculture] is around 3 per cent, Russian Federation has become the number one country, the leader in the export of grain and wheat. But this is not any sort of underground, subversive activity", Putin said. "What's the difference then between the Federal Bureau of Investigation director and Mr. Snowden?"

Putin chose to answer 73 questions among the 1.9 million questions he received at the 15th nationally televised "Direct Line" questions-and-answers session.

"Any form of protest, including demonstrations, should remain in the framework of the law", Putin said.

"I don't think I have the right to give you any advice, but I want to thank you for your position, and we know that we have a lot of friends in the United States", said Putin.

Russian Senator Alexey Pushkov was quick to congratulate Putin on his "brilliant trolling".

"I was told about this by the U.S. colleagues, and opinion polls, at least held a month ago, say that we have many friends there".

Putin said Moscow and Washington could cooperate in efforts to prevent the proliferation of mass destruction weapons, including the North Korean nuclear and missile problem.

He added that Russian Federation is willing to grant asylum to James Comey, former chief of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), in case he is persecuted in his nation.

The Russian economy had plunged into recession under the impact of a drop in global oil prices and Western sanctions imposed on Moscow over its annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and support for pro-Russia insurgents in eastern Ukraine. Putin was one of the first world leaders, to call then US President George Bush to offer his condolences.

Asked about the recent anti-corruption opposition protests organised by Navalny, Putin vaguely dismissed "those who use existing difficulties for their publicity" and argued that Russians are less concerned about corruption today than several years ago.

  • Leroy Wright