MOSCOW, December 17. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday will hold the customary year-end news conference. This time, amid the coronavirus pandemic restrictions, the event will be arranged online in a video conference mode. Also, it will incorporate some features of the question-and-answer program called Direct Line with Vladimir Putin, in which the head of state is asked questions from audiences across the nation.
Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov earlier previewed some new features of the forthcoming event. Throughout the news conference Putin is going to be at his countryside residence in Novo-Ogaryovo in front of a large video screen, hearing and seeing all conversation partners.
As for the Direct Line program component, questions for it are gathered on a special website and by means of a special mobile application, with All-Russia People’s Front volunteers providing assistance. As before, this year Russians can text messages to Putin or use any of the several available multimedia resources, for instance, send a pre-recorded video message. Usually, questions continue to be collected till the last minute of the program.
Russia’s main TV channels have reserved three hours of airtime on their schedules, but the real duration of the news conference is impossible to forecast. Peskov refrained from any speculations on that score, merely adding that it would be a long and meaningful event.
Journalists from nationwide and foreign media outlets will assemble at the World Trade Center in Moscow. Regional reporters, who on all previous such occasions had to travel to Moscow personally, this time will be able to ask questions without leaving their hometown or region. Special sites have been created in Tula, St. Petersburg, Rostov-on-Don, Stavropol, Nizhni Novgorod, Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk and Vladivostok. A total of 774 journalists have been accredited at the news conference, including 237 at the International Trade Center.
At the regional press-centers media workers will begin to assemble 2.5-3 hours before the news conference. Those who plan to cover the event from the International Trade Center hall in Moscow are invited to be there 3.5 hours beforehand. In the first place, this concerns camera crews and photographers. For the mass media in Russia’s Far East the news conference will be an evening event. In Vladivostok, correspondents will take seats at the local office of Rostelecom by 18:00 hours local time to be ready to get down to work at 19:00 (12:00 in Moscow).
The presidential press-service has addressed the journalists with a fresh reminder they should avoid using posters larger than the A4 paper size so as not to create hindrances to photographers and video camera crews. TV journalists are advised not to use radio microphones and other radio systems that may cause electromagnetic interference. Photographers will be allowed to use flashlights only during the first ten minutes.
The news conference will be broadcast live on the television channels Rossiya-1, Rossiya-24, Channel 1, NTV, and MIR, and also the radio stations Mayak, Vesti FM, and Radio Russia. At the International Trade Center simultaneous translation into English, French and German will be available.
Facts and figures about Putin’s news conferences
Putin’s year-end news conferences began to be held in 2001. There followed an interval from May 2008 to May 2012, when he held the prime minister’s seat. After Putin’s election for a six year-term in 2012 the practice of such events was resumed.
Putin’s first news conference in 2001 was also the shortest one (one hour and 35 minutes), while the longest so far (four hours and 40 minutes) took place in 2008. Starting from 2004 all of Putin’s news conferences at the end of the year lasted for no less than three hours. In 2019, Putin spent 4 hours and 18 minutes on the podium in front of the audience to answer questions from 57 mass media outlets.
More than 500 journalists were accredited at Putin’s first news conference in 2001. Later, the audience at the annual event grew bigger steadily for several years, from about 700 in 2002 and 2003 to 1,364 in 2008. All news conferences during Putin’s third presidential term attracted no less than 1,250 correspondents.