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Putin to hold traditional annual question and answer session

December 19, 2013, 0:47 UTC+3 MOSCOW
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MOSCOW, December 19, 0:44 /ITAR-TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin invites journalists to a traditional annual news conference on Thursday. Such more than four hours long question and answer session draw more than a thousand representatives from the national mass media, and that is why they are called major news conferences.

A record long news conference was held in 2008, when Putin was ending his second presidential term. It lasted four hours and 40 minutes. The last year’s question and answer session was ten minutes shorter.

In all, all Putin’s previous eight annual news conferences lasted 24.59 hours.

Meanwhile, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he was unaware how long Putin would speak to journalists this time. However, he said it was not difficult to predict what kind of questions would be asked.

“Each time in the preparation to major news conferences we hope for 1.5-2 hours and no longer, and then the president will answer the questions to satisfy a keen interest of journalists,” Peskov told Itar-Tass. In reply to the question whether the record for the duration of the major presidential news conference may be broken, the spokesman replied, “We never plan it.”

“Today the president devoted his whole workday to the preparation to a news conference, he is refreshing the statistical data in memory and is receiving the information from the ministries and agencies,” he said. “Putin is always preparing to such major events very responsibly,” Peskov noted.

To his mind, many topics for the questions can be predicted. He named “current issues concerning Ukraine and the amnesty” among the topics. “The interest to federal problems, including socio-economic problems, the housing and public utility sector, medical care and education are also easily predicted,” Peskov said.

For his two presidential terms (2000-2008) Vladimir Putin held seven major news conferences. The number of accredited journalists, the number of questions and answers and the duration of news conferences increased every year.

More than 500 journalists were accredited for the first news conference in 2001, more than 700 journalists in 2002 and 2003, about 750 journalists in 2004, 1,132 - in 2007, 1,364 media people in 2008, including about 200 foreign reporters.

The first meeting with journalists in 2001 was the shortest one and lasted one hour and 33 minutes. The longest presidential news conference lasted four hours and 40 minutes in 2008. In 2002 Putin was speaking with journalists for two hours and 30 minutes, two hours and 45 minutes in 2003, three hours and three minutes in 2004, three hours and 26 minutes in 2006 and three hours and 32 minutes in 2007.

In December 2012, Putin’s annual question and answer session for the first time was held at the Centre of International Trade because the Kremlin’s building 14 was closed for reconstruction. This venue has been chosen for this year’s news conference too.

The news conference will be aired live by the television channels Russia-1, Russian-24 and Channel One, and broadcast by the radio stations Mayak, Vesti FM and Radio of Russia.

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