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Russian leaders’ New Year addresses

TASS-FACTBOX. On the night of December 31, Russian President Vladimir Putin will traditionally offer his New Year’s greetings to the country’s citizens.

First New Year address

In the Soviet Union, the tradition of New Year’s addresses of the country’s leadership to the nation was introduced in 1936, after the New Year celebrations had been officially resumed. On January 1, 1936 the Pravda newspaper published Soviet leader Joseph Stalin’s photo and his greeting "Happy New Year, comrades, wish you new victories under the banner of Lenin and Stalin!" The same year Chairman of the USSR’s Central Executive Committee Mikhail Kalinin delivered the first New Year greetings for the participants of the first Arctic expedition.

The first New Year’s address to all Soviet citizens on December 31, 1941 was also made by Kalinin via radio, and his speech was devoted to the events on the frontlines of the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945).

New Year’s televised addresses in Soviet Union

The tradition of New Year’s televised addresses to the Soviet people was coined in by Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. He made his first such greetings on December 31, 1970 at 23:50. However, in 1975 this practice was abandoned due to Brezhnev’s disease.

Since late 1970s, the New Year’s greetings of the party and the government were read out by a prominent Soviet news anchor, Igor Kirillov. The newspapers also published the greetings from the Central Committee of the Communist Party, the Supreme Council and the Council of Ministers.

After Brezhnev’s death in 1982, his two successors, Yuri Andropov and Konstantin Chernenko, did not make their New Year’s addresses.

On December 31, 1985 Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev restored the tradition of New Year’s televised addresses. In 1987, the Soviet-US "exchange" took place, when Gorbachev addressed the US citizens and Ronald Reagan congratulated the Soviet people. In December 1990, Gorbachev made his first and last New Year’s address as the Soviet president.

New Year’s televised addresses in Russia

The most surprising New Year’s address was made on December 31, 1991. During the collapse of the Soviet Union, there was a unique situation when the citizens received greetings not from the leader, but from a famous comedian, Mikhail Zadornov. He failed to meet the timeframe and the broadcast of the chiming clock on the Kremlin's Spasskaya Tower was delayed. The New Year’s address of Russia’s first president Boris Yeltsin was recorded in advance and broadcast on December 30. The following eight years Yeltsin delivered his New Year’s addresses on December 31. In 1997, he made his address together with his family.

On December 31, 1999 Russian citizens were offered two televised New Year’s addresses - from Yeltsin, who announced his resignation on that day, and his successor Vladimir Putin.

In 2000-2007, Putin’s New Year’s greetings were broadcast on the Kremlin’s Ivanovskaya Square. He also made his addresses next to the Troitskaya Tower and the State Kremlin Palace. In 2013, Putin delivered his two New Year’s addresses. One address was made several days before December 31 and broadcast for the citizens of Russia’s Far East. The president also made another address, while in Khabarovsk, where he supported the victims of heavy flooding.

On December 31, 2014, Putin offered his New Year’s address for the first time near the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour with the view of the Moscow Kremlin. In 2015 and 2016 the president’s greetings were again delivered on the Kremlin’s territory.

After the president offers his greetings to the nation, both television and radio broadcast the chiming clock on the Kremlin's Spasskaya Tower, symbolizing the beginning of the New Year.