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Vladimir Putin is expected to face questions on the poisoning of Alexei Navalny, his response to the coronavirus crisis, protests and wars in post-Soviet countries and the US cyberhack on Thursday, as the Russian president holds his annual press conference to end a turbulent year for the Kremlin.
Owing to the coronavirus epidemic, Putin will this year be appearing from his residence at Novo-Ogaryovo by video-link (journalists must still crowd into a hall in downtown Moscow to ask a question).
Peskov, the press secretary, has promised the event will be “rather long and informative”. The nationally televised event, which is usually something of a spectacle, can last more than four hours.
The Russian president has made few public appearances since the start of the Covid crisis, mostly telecommuting from a windowless room that critics have derided as his “bunker.”
Russian journalists will mostly be focused on what is happening in the country, asking questions on the economy and the epidemic, which has killed 48,000 people, according to official statistics (and far more according to informal tallies). Regional issues, including protests in the Far East, will also likely be addressed.
Foreign journalists will most likely ask Putin about the US president-elect, Joe Biden, whom Putin congratulated only this week for his victory in the elections on 3 November, and on a Bellingcat investigation that revealed the names of the FSB officers it said tried to poison Navalny. The recent war in Nagorno-Karabakh and protests in Belarus may also come up.
The nationally televised event is usually attended by hundreds of journalists, some who paint elaborate signs or hold up stuffed animals to attract Peskov’s attention.
While Putin has fielded tough questions in past years, there are rarely opportunities to ask follow-up questions, and he has avoided making major gaffes during the events.
A recent report by the Proekt investigative outlet claimed that Putin had been working from Sochi, a resort city on the Black Sea, where he has installed an identical office. The Kremlin has denied those reports, although travel records of top officials meeting Putin suggest they may be true.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Putin faces questions on Navalny poisoning and Covid crisis at annual Q&A | Vladimir Putin