Moments ago, Russian president started speaking at the final session of the Valdai International Discussion Club’s 13th annual meeting in Sochi. More than 130 experts and political analysts from Russia and other countries are taking part in this year’s three-day meeting, titled ‘The Future in Progress: Shaping the World of Tomorrow’.
While Putin's speech can be seen below, he has already had a handful of soundbites, most notably the following he just said in response to accusations that Russia could influence the US election:
"Hysteria has been whipped up in the United States about the influence of Russia over the U.S. presidential election," said Putin, calling it a ruse to cover up for the fact that the U.S. political elite had nothing to say about serious issues such as the country's national debt or gun control.
"It's much simpler to distract people with so-called Russian hackers, spies, and agents of influence. Does anyone really think that Russia could influence the American people's choice in any way? The number of mythical, dreamt-up problems include the hysteria - I can't think of another word - that has broken out in the United States about the influence of Russia on the current elections for the US president."
He ended with a rhetorical question: "What, is America a banana republic?!"