August 18, 2015 17:15 Sevastopol
After examining the ancient shipwreck near the entrance to Balaklava Bay in Sevastopol, Vladimir Putin talked to journalists about his submersion on board the bathyscaphe and answered some of their questions.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon.
I would like to congratulate you on the 170th anniversary of the Russian Geographical Society’s establishment. It so happened, as I already said today, that we are here in Crimea on this very day, examining a rare object dated by experts to the 10th-11th century.
This is a galleon that sank opposite Balaklava Bay as it carried civilian cargoes – a very interesting object. I believe you have come to hear my impressions.
This vessel is yet to be studied by experts. There are not so many objects of this kind in the northern part of the Black Sea. Although back at the beginning of the century Russian and foreign experts tried to conduct research here, it was the Russian Geographical Society that had the fortune to discover this object, which is very good.
This is particularly interesting because the object dates back to the 10th-11th century, which is the time of the establishment of Russia’s statehood and the development of ties with Byzantium and other countries. Therefore, I believe this would be interesting for both experts and the general public, as it would encourage us all to pay greater attention to national history, to studying it, searching for something new and using it for today and for the future.
I will be happy to answer any questions you might have.
Question: I would like to ask a general question, if I may, about your trip to Crimea.
Vladimir Putin: Yes, please.
Question: The Ukrainian President made a statement regarding your visit here, saying it exacerbates the situation. He said Crimea’s future lies only within Ukraine. Could you comment on this?
Vladimir Putin: No, I will not comment on anything in this regard, because the future of Crimea has been determined by the people who live here. They voted in favour of reuniting with Russia. Period.
Question: This is not your first submersion, Mr President. What were you looking for under the sea?
Vladimir Putin: As I have already said, this is a very important discovery that allows us to see how the situation developed in the Black Sea area in those ancient times, in the 10th-11th century, and to understand how Russia’s relations with its neighbours developed, how the Russian statehood was established. Therefore, I am certain that such research is important both for experts and the general public.
Question: Mr President, could you tell us what the ship looks like? What did you see there?
Vladimir Putin: You know, it is very difficult to see the entire vessel down there. According to preliminary data, because this is all on the seabed and covered (at least whatever is on the surface) with some 40 centimetres of silt, this seems to be a vessel 27–30 metres long and about 13–15 metres wide. There is also a large number of objects, including parts of the ship and many amphoras scattered all over the place there. However, specialists have to carefully study everything they find.
Question: Mr President, do you manage to find time for work during such exciting expeditions? Did you perhaps have a chance to discuss the exchange rate with the Government members in charge of the economy? Unfortunately, the ruble is falling again.
Vladimir Putin: No, we did not go into it during these past few days. However, I do know that the Government is treating this issue as its top priority. We have just discussed this with Mr Medvedev, he stayed here on the boat. We spoke about it, and we work on it every day; however, the trip to Crimea has to do with other matters. As you may have seen, yesterday we were working on the development of tourism, which, I believe, is very important, particularly for regions like the Crimean Federal District, the Caucasus, the Far East, parts of Siberia, and Altai. The second part of the day was dedicated to a meeting with representatives of public organisations, ethnic public organisations and associations. Tomorrow we will have another working day. Together with my colleagues, the leadership of the security agencies, both local and federal, we will discuss issues within their authority.
As for the economy, I would like to repeat that this is something we address every day; however, there have been no special discussions yesterday or today, and none are planned for tomorrow.
Question: Mr President, could I ask another question about the economy? While we were here, there appeared reports that Vladimir Yakunin has been nominated for the post of Senator from Kaliningrad Region.
Vladimir Putin: Is this an economic question?
Question: Yes, I believe this may mean that he will leave his post as head of Russian Railways, and this is a significant part of the economy. Do you support his decision?
Vladimir Putin: It is his choice. Every person sees their future as they believe is right. Mr Yakunin has been working long and successfully as the head of Russian Railways. You are right in saying that this is an important infrastructure company, but we will discuss this with him later, he is on leave now – so we will talk about it when he returns.
Question: Mr President, a question that is not directly linked to today’s theme, if I may, though it is generally on the same subject. In autumn, Dmitry Peskov [Presidential Press Secretary] said you were not planning any scientific research, given the complicated international situation.
Vladimir Putin: What kind of research?
Remark: Your press service said there would be no scientific research in autumn or winter, considering the overall tensions.
Vladimir Putin: What kind of research? I do not understand what you are talking about.
Remark: Scientific research.
Vladimir Putin: You know, I am not involved in scientific research yet.
Question: But you went down with the pilot just now and there was all this pseudoscientific work.
Vladimir Putin: Right. This was not actually scientific work; scientists do the real research. This was yet another attempt at alerting our people to our history, to the development of the state and the country’s statehood, especially in this region. This was merely participation in events that should promote an interest in this country’s history.
President Putin about diving, underwater, ground under his feet and the Ukraine