Moscow — President Vladimir Putin faced a litany of complaints about low living standards during a marathon call-in show Thursday, promising to boost wages and pensions and boost social programs.
More than 1.5 million people have sent their questions by phone, video calls or email.
For the people across the vast country, the tightly-choreographed annual show provides a rare opportunity to take their grievances to the very top. The call-in is dominated by complaints about low wages, potholed roads, decrepit schools, overfilled hospitals and other social issues.
Putin noted that Russia has been hurt by a drop in energy prices and international sanctions, but added that the economy has improved.
Putin acknowledged that U.S. and the European Union sanctions have cost Russia an estimated $50 billion since 2014, but he claimed that the EU nations have suffered even greater damage because of the restrictions.