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MOSCOW, November 26 (Itar-Tass) — Russian President Vladimir Putin will give the so-called “Big Press Conference” on December 20, the press service of the head of state reported on Monday.
Presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov told Itar-Tass that “all interested journalists – from Moscow, Russian regions and those representing foreign and international media” are invited to the press conference, as usual.
When asked whether Putin is going to traditionally break the record of duration of such meetings with the press, Peskov said that “no time restrictions are planned,” that is, the RF head of state will answer questions for as long as he finds it possible. The press secretary added that the previous procedure will be preserved: “I will hold the press conference for some time, and then Putin will himself be choosing those who will be asking questions.”
Peskov also said that for the first time it will not be held at the Kremlin, as the big hall that was used for these press conferences is under capital repairs. He said the venue will be announced later.
During his presidency in 2000-2008, Putin gave seven big press conferences. The last of these held less than one month ahead of a presidential election, on February 14, 2008, was called by reporters “the biggest ever”. Every year Putin kept extending the time for answers to questions. In 2001 he answered 22 questions in an hour-and-a-half, while in 2008 he set a record of 280 minutes, and 78 reporters could ask their questions within that period of time. All in all 1,364 reporters, including about 200 foreign reporters, were accredited to that press conference.
In line with practice, priority is given at such press conferences to regional reporters, who have fewer opportunities to talk to the president than reporters from central newspapers and TV channels.
Putin used to say that he considered big press conferences “a good tradition” as he could answer “key questions concerning domestic and foreign policy”. Becoming prime minister in 2008, he gave up the practice of big press conferences, but continued another tradition of Q&A sessions to answer questions of rank-and-file Russians from different regions instead of reporters’ questions.
Peskov said this year there will be no Q&A session, “but this does not mean that the president gives up that format”. He explained that climatic conditions will be taken into consideration, and these sessions will he held “in a warm season and not when frost bites ears and feet”. Big press conferences will he held during a cold season.