(10 of 10)
TIME: The new civil religion in America is the environmental movement. Its high priest is probably Vice President Al Gore, who as you know just won the Nobel Peace Prize. How do you see the green movement unfolding in Russia and what are your own policies as far as that's concerned?
PUTIN: First, as regards people in the environmental protection movement, I support them a lot. And I associate with them a lot, to protect the environment, one of the top priorities of the human race. The people who dedicate their time and effort to that end deserve our credit and support. Obviously, the development of humankind cannot be stopped. There will always be conflict between development and preserving nature. What really matters is that mankind understands the whole drama and develops along a pathway that will be minimally detrimental to Mother Nature. To resolve this problem will be easier today than 15 years ago, there is no longer mortal opposition between the two groups. There is no need today to destroy nature as was done earlier. Today, we have a unique political environment to protect what God himself has created for the benefit of all people. Now as regards our system, it's very vulnerable. It's a surprise that the earth is still in existence. It, you know, was created through billions of circumstances and incidents that occurred and it is still in existence today because of billions and billions of circumstances that are still interacting. It faces a constant threat to its survival. We live in a very thin layer of ozone and air. And the threshold beyond which irreversible repercussions might occur is very sensitive.
TIME: If there becomes a substitute for oil, something like hydrogen, how would that affect the Russian economy?
PUTIN: One of the main goals of our economy is to diversify. We proceed from the assumption we should use intellectual capacity rather than oil, to develop, and we will need to correspondingly change the structure of the economy, which we can do. I have no doubts about that. Talking about energy, Russia has undertaken certain steps involving developments in thermonuclear energy, nuclear energy, hydrogen and others. We are thinking about so-called alternative sources of fuel. We're not optimists in this regard. We are not pessimists. We will work on it.
TIME: One last question, earlier you talked about one's authority being linked to how many telephones they have on their desk. It's a very old-fashioned image. So my question is how technologically connected are you? Do you send and receive e-mail? Do you have a BlackBerry? Do you blog?
PUTIN: Well, it's a big shame, I don't use these technologies. I don't even use a telephone. My operators, my staff do it for me. But they do it wonderfully, and I'm very envious. Well, it's not important how many telephones you have. How can you measure authority? It's the trust of the people. No other measure matters; others are just illusions. I am very thankful to the people, that they sense that indeed over these eight years I have been working honestly. I'm grateful for this trust.
Next Al Gore