Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold a customary year-end news conference on Thursday, beginning at noon Moscow time.
It will be his 15th such event, starting from 2001. The head of state started preparing for it in advance. According to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, the president talked to ministers, deputy premiers and heads of federal agencies to get the most up-to-date information about the social and economic sitaution in the country, TASS reports.
Record number of journalists
A record-breaking number of journalists - 1,895 - have been accredited, compared to 1,702 who gathered for a similar event last year.
Regional media outlets traditionally submitted the longest list of accredited journalists. The list also includes journalists working for federal and foreign media. Applications were filed by the Russian media outlets registered at Roskomnadzor, the Russian state communications regulator, and by foreign journalists who have 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.
Since 2001 Putin has held the major year-end news conference every year, except for the period of his premiership in May 2008-May 2012. He resumed the tradition after his election for a six-year term in 2012. The forthcoming major news conference will be the 15th. On all previous occasions the head of state answered media questions for several hours in a live broadcast. The event was invariably the focus of attention of the mass media and the public at large.
The first news conference in 2001 was also the shortest one (1 hour and 35 minutes). The longest one in 2008 lasted for 4 hours and 40 minutes. Starting from 2004 all news conferences continued for more than three hours. The duration depends on the president.
Last year’s presidential news conference took place on December 20. It lasted 3 hours and 43 minutes. Putin answered questions from 53 mass media outlets.
Putin initially met with journalists in the Round Hall of Building 14 (part of the presidential residence inside the Kremlin walls), which seated about 800. In 2012-2017, the building was first closed for renovation and then dismantled, so Putin’s news conferences were moved to the International Trade Center on Krasnopresnenskaya Embankment.
In past years, Putin’s meetings with journalists are traditionally held in December. Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov earlier described Putin’s news conferences as an unprecedented way of briefing the media and society on the current situation and the results of the outgoing year.
"There’s no stage direction involved, it’s obvious," Peskov said.
There is no restrictions on neither the duration of the meeting nor the subjects raised. The priority is given to Russian media, mostly regional ones, because, unlike their colleagues from the Kremlin pool, journalists from other cities have a lot less opportunities to ask a question to Putin.
Use of various banners, flags and soft toys by journalists to get the attention of the president or his spokesman has become a tradition during the event. Therefore, the Kremlin press service asked journalists not to bring big banners with them.
"We kindly ask you not to use banners exceeding the A4 format (210mm by 297mm), because it hampers the work of photographers and cameramen," the press service said in a letter to journalists accredited for the conference.
The event will be broadcast live by Rossiya 1, Rossiya 24 and Channel One TV channels, and by radio stations Mayak, Vesti FM and Radio Rossii. The broadcast with sign language interpretation will be available on the Public Television of Russia. The conference will be translated into English, French and German.