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    Putin's 2016 Annual Year-End Press Conference (72)
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    On December 23, Russian President Vladimir Putin is due to hold his annual end-of-the-year press conference, where he is expected to focus on the country's most important internal and international issues.

    Thursday will see Russian President Vladimir Putin's annual year-end press conference, where he is due to touch upon a wide array of issues affecting both Russia and the world. The conference is to kick off at 12:00 Moscow time (9 am GMT).

    This will be the 12th such press conference Putin will have conducted with Russian and international journalists during the three terms he has served as head of state. These major gatherings, which are held once a year, typically last several hours.

    This year, the questions are expected to center around Russia's relations with the West, the Ukrainian deadlock, the situation in Syria and Moscow's amelioration of ties with Ankara.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin answers journalists' questions during the annual big conference at the International Trade Center in Krasnaya Presnya, 20 December 2012
    © Sputnik / Michael Klimentyev
    Russian President Vladimir Putin answers journalists' questions during the annual big conference at the International Trade Center in Krasnaya Presnya, 20 December 2012

    Also high on the agenda are expected to be issues related to the Russian economy, the ruble and people's living standards.

    A live broadcast of the event will be carried out by a number of major nationwide Russian TV channels, including Rossiya-1, Rossiya-24 and Channel One, as well as the Russian radio stations Mayak, Vesti FM and Radio Rossiyi, according to the website kremlin.ru.

    Putin introduced the tradition of holding the annual press conferences in 2001. The longest conference of this kind took place in December 2008, with the President answering 106 questions in four hours and 40 minutes.

    Last year, Putin's end-of-the-year press conference was held at the Moscow World Trade Center on December 17; it lasted for 3 hours and 10 minutes, during which the Russian President answered 44 questions.

    They pertained to a number of urgent issues, including those related to the fate of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

    "We will never agree to any external force determining who will run the country. It goes against all international law, and it is only up to the Syrian people," Putin said.

    He stressed that it is the Syrian people who are supposed to decide their own fate.

    "I have repeatedly stated and I am ready to stress once again: we will never agree with the idea that a third party, whoever this party is, has the right to impose its will on another country. This does not make any sense. This is a violation of international legal standards," Putin said.

    December 17, 2015. Journalists before the annual news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the World Trade Center on Krasnaya Presnya
    © Sputnik / Grigoriy Sisoev
    December 17, 2015. Journalists before the annual news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the World Trade Center on Krasnaya Presnya

    The domestic situation-related questions included one concerning the mass production of Russian-made aircraft. Putin remained optimistic about the matter.

    "No doubt, we have to provide for domestic flights using our own means. We must develop the domestic and foreign markets. We must produce competitive aircraft. This means investment, which we have discussed with our Chinese partners," he said.

    Sports-related topics were also addressed during the 2016 press conference. When asked about performance enhancing substances, Putin said that "we are against any form of doping."

    "It is poison, and it also destroys the principles of fair play," he pointed out.

    Of course, journalists could not resist the urge to ask Putin about his private life. Although he made it plain that he never discusses his family for security reasons, he said during the press conference that that his daughters currently live in Russia.

    "My daughters have never lived in the limelight. They speak three European languages fluently, and they can also speak one or two Oriental languages. What is more, my daughters do not only speak the languages, they use them daily at work. They are just starting their careers, but have already achieved something," he added.

    Putin's year-end press conferences haven't been without their funny moments.

    During the 2014 gathering, a journalist from the Russian city of Kirov asked Putin about kvas, a traditional Russian soft drink, bemoaning the fact that trade networks in Kirov had failed to promote and sell "Vyatski Kvas" despite it being every bit as good as Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola.

    Since the journalist was speaking very slowly, the audience and the President suspected that the man was slightly drunk.

    "I feel you had a bit of kvas yourself in the morning," Putin joked, as cited by RT, apparently referring to the fact that brewed kvas contains a small amount of alcohol.

    However, Putin emphasized that the issue, raised by the journalist, was a burning one and that Russian manufacturers must be supported by the state.

    As for Thursday's press conference, it’s worth noting that a record number of journalists have been accredited for the event. According to the Russian news network NTV, the press conference will be covered by a total of 1,437 journalists.

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    Putin's 2016 Annual Year-End Press Conference (72)

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