(Reporting by Reuters and AOL)
Russian leader Vladimir Putin addressed a wide range of topics during his annual open address with the press on Thursday, including speaking out on his daughters -- who are largely hidden from the public -- and even welcoming U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump to the race.
Putin said he praised comments by Trump that he wanted deeper relations with Russia.
"He is a very flamboyant man, very talented, no doubt about that... He is an absolute leader of the presidential race, as we see it today. He says that he wants to move to another level of relations, to a deeper level of relations with Russia. How can we not welcome that? Of course we welcome it," Putin told reporters.
See some of Putin's best reactions at the press conference:
Earlier he said Russia welcomed working with the next U.S. president, regardless of whom it turns out to be.
"We are ready to work with any president, for whom the American people will vote," Putin told his annual news conference.
Putin also spoke about his two daughters, saying they lived in Russia and stayed clear of business and politics, but declined to say where they worked.
Putin, who is notoriously protective of his family's privacy, also made a rare reference to his two daughters on Thursday, saying they lived in Russia and stayed clear of business and politics.
But he avoided saying where they worked.
"They are taking the first steps in their careers, but are making good progress. They are not involved in business or politics," Putin said of his daughters, Maria and Katerina.
"They have never been 'star' children, they have never got pleasure from the spotlight being directed on them. They just live their own lives," he told an annual news conference.
"They live in Russia ... They have never been educated anywhere except Russia. I am proud of them, they continue to study and are working. My daughters speak three European languages fluently."
He cited security concerns for not giving any further details about them.
Reuters reported last month, citing multiple sources who know her, that Katerina was working in a senior post at Moscow State University and that she had described herself as the spouse of Kirill Shamalov, a shareholder in petrochemicals company Sibur.
Putin also spoke out tense conflicts around the world, saying he broadly supported U.S. plans to try to push forward the Syria peace process, but signaled in an angry attack that he was in no mood to forgive Turkey for shooting down a Russian warplane.
Using salty language, he mused that Turkey may have been trying to ingratiate itself with Washington by shooting the plane down.
"It is hard for us to reach agreement with the current Turkish leadership, if at all possible," said Putin, calling the downing of the Russian plane "a hostile act."
Check out more highlights from the annual conference:
"You know my position is that I resist in every possible way an increase in the retirement age. ... I still think the time has not come yet. I have no answer about when we should do it, but such an economic problem exists."
"If, for example, we're talking about the prosecutor general ... one should clarify if they, his children, broke the law or not and if there are elements of the prosecutor general's job related to a conflict of interests. For this, the presidential directorate of oversight exists."
"This (large-scale privatization) is possible, and in principle we will continue this work."
"As far as Rosneft and Aeroflot are concerned, I have already written in my articles back in 2012 that this was possible and that we would continue this work in principle."
"We are ready to work with any president, for whom the American people will vote."
"It's them (the Americans) who try all the time to prompt us who to vote for."
"We are ready to restore it (relations with Georgia). We are seeing some signals from Georgian leaders and we are receiving them. We are ready to cancel the visa regime with Georgia."
"This doesn't put any significant (pressure) on the budget ... It's hard to imagine better training. We can conduct training for quite a long time there without significant damage to our budget."
"We will carry out air strikes and support Syrian army offensives for as long as the Syrian army carries them out."
"Russia's (Syria) plan, in principle, broadly coincides with the view put forward by the United States. That is joint work on a constitution, creation of oversight mechanisms for a future democratic election, the election itself, and recognition of its results."
"I'm not sure if we need (a permanent) base there. This is quite significant infrastructure, it needs money to be invested."
"We believe that only the Syrian people can decide who should govern them ... We support the initiative of the United States about the U.N. resolution."
"We never said there were not people there who were carrying out certain tasks, including in the military sphere. But that does not mean there are Russian (regular) troops there, feel the difference."
"We are not interested in a worsening of the conflict. We are interested in the conflict ending as soon as possible, but not by people being annihilated in eastern Ukraine."
"We do not plan to introduce any sanctions against Ukraine ... (but) Ukraine will not enjoy any benefits and preferences in trade with Russia."
"We see the action of the Turkish authorities towards our plane ... as a hostile act."
"It is hard for us to reach agreement with the current Turkish leadership, if at all possible."
"What have they achieved? Maybe, they thought that we would run away from there (Syria)? But Russia is not such a country."
CBANK POLICY, RATE
"I support the central bank and the government's policy aimed at providing macroeconomic stability."
"Much as one would like to cut the rate, it shouldn't be done forcefully. It should be based on the reality of our economy, its structure"
"I am very considerate towards people, as is seen from my long stint in the job, and I think that personnel reshuffles, as a rule, are disruptive."
"There are no significant changes (reshuffles) in the pipeline."
GDP FORECAST, BUDGET
"The government, taking into account the valuation of our exports, expects the economy to grow by 0.7 percent in 2016, by 1.9 percent in 2017, and by 2.4 percent in 2018.
I want to draw your attention to the fact that all that is calculated with an oil price of $50 per barrel. Now, the rate is lower and volatility is very high.
We will not be in a hurry to introduce changes to the budget as it would entail cuts in social spending. However, the government, of course, has been preparing different scenarios."
"Investors, understanding the reality of our economy, are starting to show interest in working here."
"We had calculated next year's budget based on $50 per barrel. This is a very optimistic valuation today. Now it's already $38. That's why we will have to correct something there."
"The Russian economy has passed the crisis. At least, the peak of the crisis."
(Reporting by Maria Tsvetkova and Lidia Kelly; writing by Maria Kiselyova and Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by Christian Lowe)
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