Putin’s 2015 media Q&A marathon: 1,400 journalists to pose questions to Russian president
Scheduled for 9:00 GMT (12:00 pm Moscow time), this will be President Putin’s 11th December press-conference with the media.
Even before kicking off, the Q&A has set a new record: a total of 1,392 journalists and media representatives plan to attend. It means the 2015 Q&A marathon could beat Putin’s 2008 record, when the president answered 106 questions in 4 hours and 40 minutes.
It will also be quite a competition for the journalists, who are already planning to employ placards, creative outfits, and even cuddly toys in hopes of grasping the president’s (or his spokesman’s) attention.
At this point, it is hard to tell what course the conference will take, but experts speculate it will be heavy on domestic issues, the economy – with the tumbling ruble – and, of course, on foreign policy.
Speaking on the eve of the event, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov did not reveal what questions journalists might have prepared, but said it would be tough to surprise the President.
“It is rare that journalists surprise the president with anything. As for [his] experience and knowing all major issues in detail, this is true,” Peskov said.
Still, political experts cited by RIA Novosti and Sobesednik.ru say Putin will not avoid “uncomfortable” questions.
In last year’s session, it took the President 3 hours and 10 minutes to answer 53 questions, many of which were about relations with the West, sanctions against Russia, and the national economy.
As it took place amid the unfolding conflict in Ukraine on one side, and souring relations with the West on the other, Putin focused on Russia’s national interests.
“We are not attacking anyone in the political sense,” Putin told BBC’s veteran world news editor, John Simpson, who asked if it was Russia’s “aggression” that had worsened relations with the US and Europe. “We are only defending our interests… The displeasure of our Western partners, particularly the Americans, comes from that.”
Since his first session in 2001, Putin’s statements have proven rich in sound bites and metaphors. Last year, Putin compared Russia to a bear that the West was looking to chain and then stuff.
“They will always seek to chain us. And once we are chained, they’ll rip out our teeth and claws,” Putin said. “As soon as this [chaining the bear] happens, nobody will need it anymore. They’ll stuff it. And start to put their hands on his Taiga [Siberian forest belt] after it.”
Despite the overall serious tone of the event, it usually does not go without having lighter moments, jokes, and sense of humor from both sides.
Putin also takes questions about life outside his Presidential duties. Last year, a journalist asked Putin if he had time for his private life.
Calling the President “the main bachelor in Russia,” the journalist conveyed greetings on behalf of her aunt’s friends.
“Everything is just fine, don’t worry,” the President replied casually. “I have people who love me, everything is just fine.”
Make sure to tune in to RT for its live broadcast – on RT.com and YouTube channels.