Vladimir Putin holds annual marathon press conference

Vladimir Putin in 90 Seconds
Vladimir Putin in 90 Seconds

Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual marathon end-of-year press conference on Friday. And it wasn't just Russians watching.

Putin took questions for almost four hours in a room with 1,400 journalists and the whole world was paying attention to see what Putin would say about a year that saw his global influence grow to a new scale.

Putin spoke off the cuff the entire time, spitting out numbers about the Russian economy from the top of his head -- a fact celebrated by some Russian media, much of which is sympathetic to Putin, as a sign of his statesmanship.

At times, he coughed a bit, but still kept going.

In the end, he finished just 46 minutes behind his record, set in 2008, when he managed to speak for four hours and 40 minutes.

The press conference is televised on several Russian TV and radio stations and watched widely across the country. Putin does typically hold other press conferences over the course of the year, but this one provides a unique chance for local journalists from far flung regions to ask him questions.

Doing so is not always easy -- the room is packed and the reporters try hard to catch his attention. Many are waving home-made posters and signs.

One such banner showed a photo of Putin alongside Donald Trump and the French righ-wing politician Marine Le Pen. Another depicted the president as Superman.

putin superman picture
A journalist was trying to catch Putin's attention with this poster.

Not all of the reporters present are so supportive of Putin. Though the government has cracked down on opposition journalists and their outlets, some reporters who are less sympathetic to him are invited too. A couple tougher questions were directed at Putin on Friday -- but he mostly gave vague answers.

Related: Putin cracks down on illegal alcohol

Putin answered nearly 50 questions during the marathon press conference. He addressed many of Russia's most pressing issues.

He spoke about the nuclear arms program, and about U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's recent comments about the U.S.' own arsenal. He was upbeat on the economy, saying Russia will return to growth next year. He spoke about oil prices, saying they will hopefully go up. He congratulated Russia's farmers on successful harvest.

Answering a few questions from the international press, Putin said Russia's relationship with the U.S. "can't be worse" and dismissed accusations that he was personally involved in the hacking of the Democratic National Committee ahead of the U.S. presidential election as a sign of the Democrats being sore losers.

After the two hour mark, the press conference slipped at times into more bizarre territory, as many of the smaller publications got their chance to ask questions.

Putin spoke about the game of chess, commented on the popularity of kvas, a traditional Russian drink, and offered his views on the reading habits of Russian children.

Putin's 12th annual press conference was originally scheduled for Thursday, but it was postponed because of the funeral of Russia's ambassador to Turkey, who was assassinated on Monday.

Asked about whether he plans to run again in Russia's 2018 presidential election, he said he will consider the state of Russia and the world at that time, look at what he has achieved, and then decide whether to pursue another term.


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