The Latest: Putin attacks opposition leaders – Washington Post

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MOSCOW — The Latest on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s live call-in show (all times local):

3:45 p.m.

President Vladimir Putin says he is willing to work with all politicians who want to help people’s lives but has dismissed unnamed opposition leaders for “exploiting” Russia’s economic difficulties.

Tens of thousands took to the streets across Russia’s 11 times zones on Monday in widespread anti-government protests unseen in years. The protests were called for by opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was detained outside his home before he could head out to the rally and later sentenced to 30 days in jail for staging an unsanctioned rally. Navalny announced last December that he would run for president in 2018.

Asked about Monday’s protest, Putin said on a live call-in show on Thursday that he was “prepared to talk with everyone who genuinely wants to improve people’s lives and solve the country’s problems.” He dismissed “some” opposition leaders for “exploiting the problems instead of offering solutions.”

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3:20 p.m.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has indicated that he would give his approval to a much-disputed bill that would allow Moscow’s City Hall to pull down Soviet-era apartment blocks and relocate 1.6 million people.

The controversial bill has rattled many in Moscow who see the plans as an encroachment on their constitutional rights and a ruse to evict them from leafy neighborhoods to high-rise ones on the city’s outskirts. Moscow City Hall hails the plan that would pull down more than 4,500 blocks as a solution to get rid of dilapidated, poor-quality housing that is too costly to maintain. Thousands of people took to the streets in Moscow last month to protest against the demolition plan in the largest nonpolitical protest in years.

Putin said a during live call-in show on Thursday that the low-rise Soviet blocks will be a burden on the city’s budget in 10-15 years’ time if “the problem is not solved.” Putin also called on authorities t be mindful of the needs of the residents who are to be evicted and said “citizens’ rights, property rights are not violated.”

The bill was adopted by the State Duma on Wednesday and will be up for Putin’s signature once it gets a green light at the upper chamber of the Russian parliament.

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3 p.m.

President Vladimir Putin says the Russian military has gained “priceless” experience in Syria.

Speaking in a televised call-in show Thursday, Putin said the campaign in Syria that Russia has conducted since September 2015 has allowed the military to test its state-of-the art weapons in real combat.

The experience allowed engineers to polish weapons designs and has given a “new quality” to the Russian military, he said.

Putin added that Moscow will work to resolve the conflict, voicing hope that the growing capability of the Syrian army will allow the Russian military to scale down its involvement.

Russia, Turkey and Iran have negotiated safe zones in Syria to reduce fighting. They plan to finalize specifics related to the zones during future talks in Kazakhstan’s capital, Astana.

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2:50 p.m.

President Vladimir Putin says Russia will pour resources into the development of its vast Arctic region for both economic and military reasons.

Speaking in a live call-in show Thursday, Putin said the Arctic region will account for an increasing share of energy output and determine the nation’s future.

Putin added that a military presence in the Arctic region is also essential for ensuring Russia’s security.

The Kremlin has highlighted reaffirming the Russian presence in the Arctic as a top priority amid an intensifying rivalry over the region that is believed to hold up to one-quarter of the planet’s undiscovered oil and gas.

Russia, the United States, Canada, Denmark and Norway have all been trying to assert jurisdiction over parts of the Arctic as shrinking polar ice creates new opportunities for exploration.

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2:45 p.m.

President Vladimir Putin has voiced hope for normalizing Russia-U.S. ties.

Speaking in a live call-in show with the nation Thursday, 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 said the two countries could also cooperate in dealing with global poverty and efforts to prevent climate change.

Putin also noted that Moscow hopes that the U.S. could play a “constructive role” in helping settle the Ukrainian crisis.

The Russian president described the allegations of Russian meddling in the U.S. election as reflection of “exacerbating political infighting.”

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