There were critical questions, but evidently only those that Putin wanted to hear. The former finance minister Alexei Kudrin criticized the government, but without naming the current prime minister, Dimitry Medvedev. He said the Russian economy was too dependent on gas and oil exports and the government was doing too little to change that. Putin responded with a faint smile.

He rejected calls for the resignation of the government, saying that the cabinet had only just been appointed and deserved time to prove itself.

Kudrin is close friend of Putin, who praised him three times during the show, saying that experts had called him "the best finance minister in the world." It seemed as if Putin might have been readying Kudrin for the prime minister's post. Medvedev is currently very unpopular and there's been speculation for months about his possible resignation.

Putin even allowed himself a sideswipe at Medvedev, who was his predecessor as president. When asked about corruption in the defense ministry, he pointed out several times that investigations were only started once he came to office as president. He'd sacked the defense minister Anatoli Serdyukov in autumn 2012.

Only towards the end of the third hour of the show did Putin talk about the opposition and their protests. This time he didn't insult them as he did in December 2011, when he called them "monkeys." He said he was ready for a dialogue with the opposition, although he didn't get more concrete than that.

He called on his opponents to form parties and enter parliament. He didn't mention the blogger and critic Alexei Navalny, who is currently on trial in Kirov for alleged corruption. He merely said that trials against members of the opposition were never instigated for political reasons.

Putin said even less about foreign policy. He thanked the US for helping Russia join the World Trade Organization, and, following the Boston Marathon bombing, called for closer cooperation in the fight against terrorism.

When a journalist asked if Russia and the US should move closer once more, he avoided answering directly, but he rejected any criticism of Russia and said that the two countries were different and each had its own rules.