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Main issues raised by President Putin during his annual news conferences

The Russian president traditionally convenes his annual news conference in winter to sum up the outgoing year’s results

MOSCOW, December 14. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold his 12th annual news conference in Moscow on Thursday.

The Russian president traditionally convenes his annual news conference in winter to sum up the outgoing year’s results. The conferences have no limits on topics up for discussion. As a rule, Putin is asked about various spheres of Russia’s domestic and foreign policy, but sometimes the Russian leader receives questions about his personal life as well.


On July 18, 2001 Vladimir Putin held his first big news conference. He was asked questions about various aspects of the Russian government and parliament’s work, the Navy, the burial of Communist leader Vladimir Lenin, whose embalmed body is still kept in the Mausoleum on the Red Square, and other issues. In his answers, Putin said that one of the biggest achievements made in recent years was reaching "the public consensus," which paves the way for the country's economic development.

Speaking about the military reform, the president stressed the need to prevent mistakes of the past, including the situation in which the arms race "was, to a great extent, one of the factors that undermined the economy and, consequently, the nation’s trust in the state."


On June 24, 2002, Vladimir Putin had to answer questions on corruption, regional policies, Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO), NATO expansion and the situation in Chechnya. The president stressed that he had good knowledge "of an ordinary Russian citizen’s life," because he "has been living in the presidential residence for two years, but spent nearly 30 years of his life in a communal apartment in Leningrad [now St. Petersburg]." He also spoke of the role that a state may play in fostering inter-ethnic and inter-confessional hatred, adding that "if we step on this slippery slope, we won’t be able to save our country."


The conference on June 20, 2003 focused on the upcoming presidential elections, parties, governmental reshuffle and the influence that large businesses have on the country’s life. The president said that an unprecedented number of laws have been adopted in the past two or three years. "This renewal, this reconstruction, this modernization has no precedents in the history of our country," he said. The meeting ended with a question "Who are you and who do you side with?", to which Putin replied "I’m the president of Russia and I stand by my voters and the people of Russia."


On December 23, 2004, journalists asked Putin about the reform of Russian federal subjects, monetization of state benefits, Russia’s relations with Georgia and Abkhazia and other issues. Speaking about ex-Soviet countries, Putin expressed his concern about attempts to settle conflicts with unlawful means and warned about the emerging "system of permanent revolutions" in the post-Soviet space.


During the January 31, 2006 conference Russia’s domestic policies came into spotlight. The head of state was asked about the municipal reform, national projects, demography, the Constitutional Court’s relocation to St. Petersburg and Russian-Ukrainian gas disputes. The president evaded questions on his successor, although he was asked about it at least three times. When asked whether the president was pleased with the results of his five-year work, Putin replied that "a person can never be satisfied with his results, if he is of sound mind and memory."


Among issues raised at the February 1, 2007 news conference were the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections, due in 2007 and 2008, anti-corruption efforts, energy sector, the development of Russia’s Far East, migration issues and the status of Russian military bases in the Caucasus region. The Russian leader said he saw "no other efficient way to fight corruption other than by developing the civil society and media freedoms." He named the gap in incomes of various social groups as the country’s main social challenge.


On February 14, 2008 Vladimir Putin compared his two presidential terms to the work of a galley slave. ""I have worked like a galley slave throughout these eight years, morning till night, and I have given all I could to this work," he said. Speaking about his plans for the future, Putin said he was glad of "having an opportunity to be useful" to his country on another post. When asked which problem was the most tiresome, Putin named corruption.


Questions asked on December 20, 2012, concerned mostly the domestic issues: the system of justice, direct elections of governors, criminal cases against opposition leaders and officials and the return of the daylight saving time. One of the main issues was the Russian parliament’s response to the US Magnitsky Law, particularly a ban on the adoption of Russian children by US citizens. The Russian leader said he was "generally pleased with the prime minister and the government’s work."


The events in Ukraine became the spotlight of the presidential conference on December 19, 2013. Putin said that Russia still viewed Ukraine as a "brotherly" nation and was ready to offer economic assistance. He also said that Moscow did not oppose Ukraine’s association with the European Union, but will protect its economy if necessary.


On December 18, 2014, Vladimir Putin answered questions about economic situation in the country, relations with Western nations, the conflict in southeastern Ukraine, health reform and relations between the Russian government and the opposition. The president said the current economic situation was a result of a combination of external factors and insufficient diversification of the Russian economy. He stressed that all of the state’s social obligations, including to retirees and state-paid employees, will be met in full. The president said that even under unfavorable external economic conditions, the financial crisis "may last <...> two years."


On December 17, 2015, most questions that Vladimir Putin had to answer concerned economic and foreign policy issues. The president said that the Russian economy was past the bottom of the crisis and certain sectors were already posting a steady growth. He said he was satisfied with the work of the Russian government and the Bank of Russia. Speaking about the projected increase of the pension age, Putin described this measure as premature. He also replied to a number of questions concerning the relations between Russia and Turkey, the crisis in Syria and the conflict in Ukraine. Among other things, the president said that "separate operations involving our Air Force, space troops, air defense units and intelligence" in Syria create "no noticeable burden for our budget."


The president began the December 23, 2016 conference by describing the economic situation in the country. "We are advancing in accordance with the plan that was publicly announced. It is being implemented, and the performance so far has been quite positive," he said.

Most of the questions concerned the Russian domestic policies, including high-profile anti-corruption cases, state subsidies to Russian regions and farmers, privatization of state companies and state oil major Rosneft’s lawsuits against a number of media outlets. Speaking about the doping scandal in the Russian sport, Putin said: "Russia has never created - this is absolutely impossible - a state-run doping system."

The president also replied to questions on most pressing foreign policy issues, including Russia’s relations with Turkey, Ukraine, the United States and European countries.