Russian President Vladimir Putin’s annual news conference on December 20 will be held in its traditional manner, without any innovations but organizers will create conditions for a direct dialogue between the president and journalists, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told TASS.
"There can hardly be any innovations here," Peskov said answering a question. "The key goal of this event is to organize a barrier-free contact with federal, regional and foreign journalists with the head of state," he noted.
The Kremlin spokesman stressed that these big news conferences by the Russian leader are "an unprecedented format." "Few people in the world hold such sessions of communication with journalists," he said. "But we believe this is necessary for the purpose of providing full information to the media and with its help for all of society regarding the current situation and the outcome of the year," Peskov pointed out.
The presidential spokesman declined to predict how the news conference would be held this time. "It is evident that this is not an orchestrated event," he said.
Putin’s annual news conferences
Putin initiated his traditional annual meetings with journalists back 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.
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. However, priority is given to regional Russian media, which have fewer possibilities to pose questions to Putin unlike their counterparts from the Kremlin pool.
A record-breaking number of journalists - 1,702 - have been accredited to cover the news conference. Putin’s first such news conference in 2001 drew more than 500 journalists. Later, the number of media representatives grew and during Putin’s third presidential term, it never dropped below 1,250. Last year, the number of journalists accredited for the event exceeded 1,600.
The first news conference in 2001 was the shortest one, running for just one hour and 35 minutes. The longest one took place in 2008, when Putin answered questions for four hours and 40 minutes. All in all, starting from 2004, the event has run for at least three hours on average.
During his news conferences, Putin almost never uses reference materiel, but freely cites figures. A few days before the event, the president refreshes his memory about this data. "During these three days, he spends much time on preparing for the news conference," Peskov noted. "This is conventional work with the agencies and reference material.".