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MOSCOW, December 20 (RIA Novosti) – President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday he had committed no significant errors during his years as Russia’s leader, in a marathon news conference broadcast live on television.
“Whoever of us is without sin, or whoever of you is without sin, let them cast the first stone at me,” Putin said, in one of two Biblical references during his over four-hour appearance.
“There have probably been mistakes,” he said. “[But] I do not see any major, systemic errors.”
Putin admitted minor mistakes were made during the 2008 global financial crisis, in particular regarding state guarantees, which were intended to tackle the economic downturn.
“We did some things at the wrong time,” he told journalists. “Especially during the crisis. Some decisions that we took did not work as effectively as we thought and hoped they would.”
He hailed, however, what he called Russia’s successful emergence from the crisis.
“In Europe, they have a recession, but we have an upswing, albeit modest,” he went on. “The situation looks a lot better for us than in the once prosperous Eurozone, or even in the States.”
Putin first came to power in Russia in 2000. He stepped down as president in favor of his hand-picked successor Dmitry Medvedev in 2008 in accordance with a constitutional ban on serving more than two successive terms.
He returned to the Kremlin amid protests this May after serving as prime minister for four years. But many observers held that Putin remained the most powerful politician in the country throughout Medvedev’s one-term tenure.
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The growing outright rivalry between the United States and China gives Russia more foreign policy weight, enabling it to assume the role of a balancer. So far it has been doing so rather skillfully. Today it may participate in a joint naval exercise with China that Beijing positions as outwardly anti-American. But tomorrow it can team up with the naval forces of the Old World.