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Putin's Annual News Conference Could Address Syria, Russian Elections, Ukraine

  • VOA News

FILE - Russian President Vladimir Putin attends his annual end-of-year news conference in Moscow, Russia, Dec. 23, 2016.

A spokesman for the Kremlin told Russian state-owned media Wednesday that President Vladimir Putin had prepared "from dawn till dusk" for his annual news conference scheduled for Thursday.

Putin's appearance is usually broadcast live on three Russian television channels and three radio networks. Topics range from international developments to questions about the president's personal life.

Likely topics this year are Putin's announcement Monday that a significant portion of Russian troops in Syria would be allowed to return home. He has also announced that he will run for re-election next year, which could make him the longest-serving Russian leader since Josef Stalin.

State-owned Russian media Tass reports that last year's news conference drew a record 1,437 reporters, both foreign and domestic.

Ukraine issue

One reporter expected to be there is Ukraine's Roman Tsymbalyuk, who since 2014 has been asking Putin about Russia's military involvement in Ukraine.

Wearing brightly colored clothing to attract the facilitators holding the microphones, Tsymbalyuk in 2015 managed to get Putin to admit that some Russian operatives on the Crimean Peninsula were military advisers sent by Moscow, not just volunteer fighters as the government had previously said.

Tsymbalyuk told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty on Wednesday that he was frustrated that his questions hadn't done more to change the situation in his native Ukraine. But he said he would be in attendance Thursday, prepared with a question about ceding Ukraine's eastern border back to the control of the Kyiv government.

He also said his expectations were not high, because over the years, Putin has been consistent in one aspect.

"He will answer however he wants," Tsymbalyuk told Radio Free Europe. "You can't win in this argument."

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