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Putin live: Million Russians to quiz him

Putin live: Million Russians to quiz him

Putin will take part in the live phone-in in which people from around the vast country ask him selected questions.

Moscow: Russians have submitted more than a million questions for President Vladimir Putin's annual televised question and answer session with 24 hours left before the marathon event, the Kremlin said on Tuesday.

Putin on Wednesday will take part in the live phone-in, in which people from around the vast country ask him selected questions mainly on bread-and-butter issues.

The event, which is broadcast on both main state channels, usually lasts several hours and is the Russian president's fifth since he came to office in 2000.

The most popular questions so far concerned housing, student stipends, the minimum wage, inflation and benefits for large families.

Putin, whose popularity has remained extremely high throughout his presidency, sees the phone-in as an opportunity to show he can respond directly to voters' concerns.

"This is a very good format, it allows one to focus on problems that people are concerned about," he said. In September 2005, Putin answered 60 questions in a nearly three-hour-long session.

Residents of nine cities and one village in Russia and ethnic Russians living in Latvia put their questions to Putin via a live television linkup. Others phoned in, submitted them by e-mail or sent text messages.

first published:October 24, 2006, 17:13 IST