Martial arts

Mr. Siegel:

Well, let's turn to another call from the audience, and this time from Mendon, Mass. Our listener's name is Larry. Larry, what's your question?

Good evening, President Putin.

President Putin:

Good evening.

caller:

There are a great many of us here who would like to know what type of martial arts you practice, how old you were when you earned your black belt, and do you still find time to practice in your busy life?

President Putin:

I started practicing this sport when I was 14, and as a matter of fact, what I did start engaging in was something called sambo, which is a Russian acronym for, quote, "self-defense without arms," unquote, which is a Russian wrestling technique. And, after that, I joined a gym that was teaching judo. And I was what they call a master of sports. We have our sporting ranks, and the equivalent of the black belt I received when I was, I guess, 18, in judo. And all my adult life I have been practicing judo -- I guess I can put it this way -- and I do love the sport tremendously. And I think that there is more to it than just sport. I think it's also a philosophy in a way, and I think it's a philosophy that teaches one to treat one's partner with respect. And I engage in this sport with pleasure and try to have regular practices still. Yes, still.


Favorite book

Mr. Siegel:

This, by the way, there was an e-mail question, another personal question: Hubbard T. Saunders IV, in Jackson, Miss., asks what is your favorite book, and why?

President Putin:

I love the Russian classics very much, the Russian classical literature. But I also read modern literature. As far as Russian literature is concerned, I am very fond of Tolstoy and Chekhov, and I also enjoy reading Gogol very much.

Mr. Siegel:

Well, let's -- oh, many people have asked us about your background in the KGB. Thom Foulks of Colorado Springs, Colo., asks: American news media continue to point out that you were a former KGB agent, which carries with it a negative image. Is that unfair? And how do you feel your KGB experience may help you or hinder you in today's world?

President Putin:

It helps me.

Mr. Siegel:

It helps you.

President Putin:

For instance -- I can see you are surprised to hear that -- for instance, it helps me establish a good relationship with you as we are working here today in the studio. It helps me establish human interaction, because working for the intelligence -- and that's where I was working, I was working in the -- I was working in the intelligence department of the KGB -- so working for the intelligence, you have to be working with and for the people. What I was doing, what was my specialty was the political intelligence. I basically engaged and researched into international politics -- of course, from a different perspective, in a different capacity. And I never, ever regretted working, taking up a job with the external intelligence department of the Soviet Union. I did my duty. I served my country. And I believe that I did a fairly decent job at that. However, one must not forget, of course, that we lived in an entirely different world then, in a world that is no longer here. As far as I know, though, in the United States, there is a certain amount of experience where ex-intelligence employees became heads of state.

Mr. Siegel:

You were visiting the son of one of them just this week, I believe.

President Putin:

And I also had a meeting with the father as well.

Top

 

Vladimir Putin

Engineer and

President of Russian Federation