Putin will not hold his annual end-of-year conference
Russian President Vladimir V. Putin will not hold his marathon December press conference this year, breaking with an annual tradition that dates back to the early years of his presidency. It would be the first time in a decade that Mr Putin did not host the event in December.
Dmitry S. Peskov, spokesman for Mr Putin, told reporters at a daily briefing on Monday that the event would not take place, although he raised the possibility of it being rescheduled for the new year.
The move comes as Russia’s economy reels under sanctions and follows a string of heavy military casualties to Moscow’s campaign in Ukraine. Mr Peskov did not give a reason why the press conference would not take place, but noted that Mr Putin “regularly speaks to the press, including during visits abroad”. But these appearances are limited to the pool of journalists regularly assigned to the Kremlin.
Often lasting four hours or more, the December press conference is one of the few times during the year when journalists from outside the Kremlin, including foreign correspondents, have the opportunity to ask questions directly. questions to Mr Putin. Mr Putin has held 17 press conferences since 2001 – he has occasionally skipped one – and they have become a fixed feature of his schedule, along with other events like the national call show at the start of the been when he answers questions from ordinary Russians.
Mr Putin did not hold December press conferences between 2008 and 2011, when he was prime minister.
Tatiana Stanovaya, a political analyst, wrote on her Telegram channel that the cancellation was a sign that Mr Putin did not want to engage in what he considered minor internal affairs or answer boring or routine questions.
Mr Peskov’s announcement follows a week that has seen Mr Putin make several highly choreographed public appearances seemingly aimed at bolstering his version of reality, at a time when a Russian victory in Ukraine seems further away than ever.
December press conferences usually take place in a circus-like atmosphere, with reporters waving signs containing some of Mr Putin’s signature phrases or wearing costumes from their home regions, hoping to catch his attention and to ask a question. The sessions are a chance for Mr. Putin to show his mastery of the facts affecting all aspects of Russian life, and ostensibly, to show his “openness” to all questions.
Mr Putin prefers scripted events, however, using a few such appearances in the past week to try to paint the Russian invasion of Ukraine as going as planned, despite a series of military setbacks, including the loss of the main southern city of Kherson which Russia had illegally annexed. Thousands of Russians have been killed since Moscow launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February, an issue not usually mentioned on state television.
Questions from foreign correspondents are usually – to some extent – choreographed in advance, with the Kremlin asking reporters in advance what they might be inclined to ask Mr Putin. But it would be possible for a Russian or international journalist to detail some of the setbacks of the war and have Mr. Putin explain them live on national television.