MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The practice of holding a large annual news conference was introduced by Putin during his first term as Russian president in 2001.
The journalists were interested in the president's position on Russia's economic and political development, the course of reforms in the country, prospects for Russia's continued integration in the international community and his opinion on key international issues.
Putin's second large news conference was held on June 24, 2002 and lasted for over two hours, during which Putin answered 37 questions from Russian and foreign journalists. He announced a number of initiatives, including the introduction of a single tax on the agriculture industry, and commented on domestic and foreign policy. The conference was attended by about 700 Russian and foreign journalists.
The third large news conference took place on June 20, 2003, and lasted two hours and 45 minutes. It was attended by over 700 federal, regional and foreign journalists. The president took questions from 48 reporters, answering 53 questions.
The fourth large news conference was held on December 23, 2004.
The event lasted just over three hours, during which the president answered 51 questions. As in previous years, the majority of the questions, 27, came from regional journalists.
Federal media outlets asked 13 questions, while foreign journalists asked 11. The questions touched on Russia's domestic and foreign policies. There were also three personal questions. About 690 Russian and foreign journalists were given accreditation for the event.
In 2005, the news conference was not held. Instead, the president fielded questions from the public in a live broadcast.
The fifth large news conference, which is traditionally held in the Kremlin, took place on January 31, 2006. The event lasted for just under three-and-a-half hours, during which Putin answered about 140 questions from 65 journalists, including 51 Russian reporters and 14 foreign journalists.
Over 1,000 media representatives were accredited for the news conference. Some of the thornier questions concerned gas conflicts in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Hamas' victory in the Palestinian elections, the situation in the Russian Armed Forces, the status of nongovernmental organizations, the spy scandal and Putin's possible successor. Journalists also posed a number of questions in relation to the president's personal life.
On February 1, 2007, Putin held his sixth large news conference for Russian and foreign journalists, which lasted for over 3.5 hours.
The president took questions from 50 Russian and 16 foreign journalists, including six reporters from CIS countries. Over 1,100 media representatives were accredited for the event.
The seventh large news conference was held in the Kremlin on February 14, 2008, and lasted a record four hours and 40 minutes with 1,364 journalists accredited for the event. Putin answered 106 questions from 80 reporters, of them, 25 journalists represented federal media outlets – 36 regional and 19 foreign.
Thorny issues concerned immigration policy in the Stavropol Region, elections in Chechnya and Ingushetia, the reduced quality of secondary education, rising inflation and the possibility that the president would run for a second term.
Dmitry Medvedev held his first large news conference as president on May 18, 2011. Unlike Putin, who introduced this practice, Medvedev preferred to hold interviews with media representatives. He held annual live interviews with the heads of three leading television channels – Channel One, Rossiya and NTV, during which he spoke about issues facing the country.
The news conference, held in the Skolkovo business center, lasted for over two hours. The president took 42 questions from 33 reporters, of whom 10 represented federal media outlets, 17 regional, and seven – foreign media outlets. Overall, 815 journalists, including 300 foreign reporters, were accredited for the event,.
Unlike Putin, Medvedev directed the news conference himself. He first fielded questions from the audience and then addressed four questions he had received over the Internet.
Given the upcoming presidential elections in 2012, most questions concerned Medvedev's political future and issues related to the government structure and the political system in Russia, the election of governors and the work of government institutions at various levels.
Many questions concerned legal and judicial matters, including the high-profile cases against Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Sergei Magnitsky. Fewer questions were asked about social and economic issues.
The news conference lasted for about 4.5 hours with about 1,226 journalists accredited for the event. Putin took 81 questions, with some journalists asking two or three questions at once. Representatives of federal, regional, and foreign media outlets addressed their questions to the president, including reporters from Georgia, Ukraine, China, the United States and Poland.
Questions mostly concerned political, economic and social issues. The law banning the adoption of Russian children by Americans was a particularly popular topic. Seven reporters broached this subject in one way or another in their questions. The president was also asked some unconventional questions about the timing of the end of the world and whether French actor Gerard Depardieu would be given Russian citizenship.
The ninth annual news conference was held on December 19, 2013 at the World Trade Center on Krasnopresnenskaya Naberezhnaya. With over 1,300 Russian and foreign journalists accredited, the event lasted just over four hours.
The president took 52 questions from 42 Russian and 10 foreign journalists, representing five magazines, 15 television channels, nine news agencies, 18 newspapers, one radio station and five online publications.
Ukraine and the continued pro-European rallies in Kiev were the main theme of the questions on world politics. The president also addressed questions regarding Russia's deployment of Iskander missile systems on the border and spoke about plans by the United States to impose new sanctions against Iran. Putin also promised to consider canceling visas for Georgians and denied allegations that Russia planned to send troops to Crimea.
The major sensation happened after the news conference. Putin told journalists that former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky had submitted a clemency petition, which he was going to approve with a presidential decree.
Putin's 10th news conference took place on December 18, 2014 in the same venue as in previous few years. With 1,259 Russian and foreign reporters accredited for the event, Putin spent three hours and 10 minutes addressing 53 questions from 38 reporters, eight of them foreign.
Held amid growing economic difficulties, the conference was expected to primarily address economic issues. The president indeed began by reviewing economic indicators and pressing problems. Putin expressed optimism and his satisfaction with the actions of Russia's central bank, stressing that in the worst-case scenario, problems would persist for two years at most. Russia must maintain its gold reserves and key interest rate, provide investment loans to businesses and continue to control the exchange rate, Putin said.
The conference concluded with personal questions, as well as telling a reporter from Kirov that the Russian Kvas drink should be promoted to win back market share from Coca-Cola.
Putin's 11th news conference was held on December 17, 2015. It ran for over three hours, with the president answering 47 questions from 32 journalists, including 27 Russian reporters and five from foreign media.
Putin talked about the economic situation in Russia, the government's activity, and touched upon relations with Turkey, Russian's actions in Syria and the situation in Ukraine. He also addressed Russia's domestic issues, including the raising of the retirement age and Russian politician Boris Nemtsov's murder. He also spoke about scandals in sport and his daughters.
After the 11th news conference, Putin answered several more questions. including about US President-elect Donald Trump and FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia.