Russian President Vladimir Putin said Americans should not think of him as an autocratic “czar” and praised their openness and creativity, in an interview ahead of a trip to New York.
Putin is to meet US President Barack Obama next week on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, amid renewed East-West tensions after Russia’s interventions in Ukraine and Syria.
But first he sat down with CBS News interviewer Charlie Rose, who asked him whether it was fitting to refer to him as a czar, the title of Russia’s all-powerful pre-revolutionary monarchs.
“No, it does not fit me. It’s not important how I’m called, whether these are well-wishers, friends or political opponents,” Putin said, according to a translated extract of the interview.
“It’s important what you… must do for the interest of the country which has entrusted you with the position as the head of the Russian state,” he said.
Putin jokingly complained about his strongman image in the United States — “Maybe they have nothing else to do in America but talk about me?” — but had some positive words for the US people.
“I like the creativity,” Putin said. “Creativity when it comes to tackling your problems.
“Their openness — openness and open-mindedness — because it allows them to unleash the inner potential of their people.
“And thanks to that, America has attained such amazing results in developing their country.”
The full interview is due to air on Sunday in the CBS News weekly “60 Minutes” magazine show.