MOSCOW, December 14. /TASS/ A record-breaking number of journalists - 1,702 - have been accredited to highlight Russian President Vladimir Putin’s traditional annual news conference due to take place on December 20, according to the Kremlin website which posted the list of accredited journalists on Friday.
Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov said earlier this year’s news conference had attracted increased interest, with the number of applications for accreditation being much bigger than in pervious years.
Applications were received from Russian journalists registered with the national mass media watchdog Roscomnadzor and from foreign journalists having the Russian foreign ministry’s accreditation.
Putin’s first such news conference in 2001 drew more than 500 journalists. The number of journalists accredited to his subsequent news conference grew from about 700 in 2002 and in 2003 to as many as 1,364 in 2008.
The number of journalists accredited to annual news conferences during Putin’s third presidential term never dropped below 1,250. Last year saw a record of 1,640 reporters covering the event.
Putin’s annual news conferences
Putin set up a tradition of annual meetings with journalists in 2001. A short break was made only when Putin was Russia’s prime minister, from May 2008 to May 2012. The practice was resumed in 2012 after Putin was elected Russian president for his new, six-year, term.
Putin’s question-and-answer sessions traditionally start at noon. As a rule, they lasts for several hours. That is why they are often referred to as a ‘big’ news conferences.
It is up to the president to decide when to stop. The first news conference in 2001 was the shortest one - one hour and 35 minutes. The longest one took place in 2008 when Putin answered questions for four hours and 40 minutes. Anyway, none was shorter than three hours from 2004.
In the recent years, such news conferences were organized in December giving the president an opportunity to sum up the results of the outgoing year. Reporters are free to ask any question they like.