MOSCOW (AP) — A Russian state-owned television channel has a new weekly current affairs program devoted to President Vladimir Putin.
The first episode of "Moscow. Kremlin. Putin." aired on Sunday night, stressing the Russian president's work to address various crises and stay in touch with ordinary Russians.
The Kremlin has consolidated its control over television stations since Putin came into office in 2000, and Putin's activities traditionally receive wide coverage on news programs on state television. Still, a weekly show devoted to news events as seen through the work of Putin is something new for Russia.
The hour-long program on Rossiya 1 featured interviews with Putin's spokesman and the Kremlin pool reporter who covered the president's activities last week, as well as a segment about Putin's break in the mountains last month.
Quizzed by the show's host about Putin's recent meeting with gifted children and his supposed love for the youth, his spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: "Putin loves not only children, he loves people in general. He's a very humane person."
The Russian leader's approval ratings sharply declined in July after the government proposed raising the ages for pension eligibility the previous month.
Speaking to reporters on Monday afternoon Peskov insisted that the Kremlin did not commission the TV show, and that it was the channel's own idea. He added that the program was done in a balanced manner.
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