Today in a live broadcast on leading television channels and Mayak [Beacon] and Radio Russia radio stations Russian President Vladimir Putin was asked the most interesting questions that Russians had sent in over the last five days. From 14 to 19 December more than 1.4 million Russians called with questions for the president, three times higher than the number who called last year for a similar event. Questions were received on the telephone "hotlines" and the special web-site www.linia2002.ru.
The large majority of questions were connected with social issues including the price of medical services, a common school-leaving exam, the influx of immigrants from the Caucasus, army and health reform, care for the disabled, military service for women, mortgage lending for young families and the assigning of specialists after higher education. Russians also wanted to know whether the president ever hears jokes about himself, what Mr Putin thinks about the possible spread of a personality cult in Russia and also whether or not his personal relationships with other world leaders effects Russia's foreign policy.
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The Russian forces destroyed a column of NATO armoured vehicles that had been delivered to the Ukrainian army.