The much anticipated Q&A marathon by the Russian President is expected to be heavy on economics and politics following major geopolitical shifts this year. Some 1,200 journalists will attend the event with RT broadcasting it live for intl audiences.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is holding a press conference on pressing issues of the day, including the economic turbulence and volatility of the national currency, at noon on December 18. This is the 10th annual press conference to be held by the Russian President. Similar formats in the past lasted normally up to several hours.
It concerns over the state of the Russian economy in direct confrontation with the West and the governments’ response to the crisis that some 1,200 international journalists will likely seek to tackle first.
“It is clear that the economy will be the first thing that will be asked,” Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Rossiya 24 TV news ahead of the big event. He said that the Kremlin expects questions “on the situation in the economy, the situation with the ruble, prices, measures that the leadership of Russia have in mind to tackle these.”
Since the beginning of 2014 the ruble has fallen almost 50% against the US dollar. In an effort to halt the devaluation of the national currency the Central Bank has raised its key interest rate to 17 percent, a measure that was not enough to effectively stop the volatility. At the same time, the price of food products in retail chains in the past year in Russia rose by up to 25 percent and it is feared that in the first months of 2015 prices could rise even further.
Putin will also likely discuss the tense geopolitical situation in the world that has been shaped following the Ukrainian turmoil and civil war and Crimea’s referendum to join Russia. Peskov called 2014 an “unusual” year in terms of “a paradigm shift in the international system,” something that the Russian President plans to elaborate even further.
The hostilities in Ukraine are expected to remain one of the main topics of discussions as a ceasefire in Donbas announced by Kiev last week is barely holding up. Meanwhile accusing Moscow of “aggression” in Ukraine, NATO countries has not only slapped Russia with economic sanctions but also stepped up military presence on the Russian borders.
And the biggest question of all is how Russia will react if further sanctions are introduced by the US and the EU.
In preparation for the Q&A session, Putin has been actively seeking expert opinion from a number of government ministers, analysts and advisers. Peskov says, that the Russian leader is prepared for any possible question.
“The press conference is always a place where the president can be asked any questions,” he said, highlighting that the President will answer uncensored questions, summing up the events of the outgoing year.
The live Q&A press conference was first held in 2001 and hosted over 500 journalists. Since then it continued annually until 2008, when Putin became Russia’s Prime Minister. It was then reintroduced in 2012 after Putin was re-elected President.
In his previous key public address Putin made a strong stance against US-led attempts by the West to weaken Russia during his state of the union address to the Federal Assembly earlier in December.