Russian President holds annual presser

World Today

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin held his annual end of the year media event.

He answered questions on a range of topics, from Syria, to the nuclear threat and the nuclear arms treaty.

CGTN’s Julia Chapman has more from Moscow

It’s President Vladimir Putin’s favorite way of dealing with the media. All at once, over a period of nearly four hours.

Addressing everything from Syria, to doping, to Brexit, the Russian president reflected on the year gone by and looked forward at the one to come.

Economic issues were a common theme. Not least among them, this year’s widely unpopular domestic reform raising the pension age.

“These thing are unpleasant, and it’s clear that they don’t bring about any enthusiasm, but they are inevitable. Once again, if I hadn’t been convinced that it was necessary, I would never have allowed it to be done,” Putin said.

The president was also pressed on Russia’s actions on the world stage. Asked about the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal in the U.K., Putin accused the West of double standards, comparing its reaction to that of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

“Khashoggi was killed, that’s obvious, everyone has acknowledged it. Skripal, thank god, lives. Nevertheless, in relation to Russia, there are sanctions. They’re still talking about it endlessly. And in the Khashoggi case complete silence. It is a politicized Russophobic approach,” Putin said.

The question and answer session continued like this for hours.

This year President Putin answered sixty-one questions from Russian and international journalists. The Kremlin says the annual event is evidence that Russia values media freedom. But critics say it’s a game of smoke and mirrors.

“The idea is basically two main goals the Kremlin wanted to achieve when they started. To eliminate real communication with professional media. This press conference there is no dialogue, no communication. There are questions mostly picked up in advance and the President prepared to give his answer,” said Mikhail Fishman a journalist.

On Russia’s relations with Asia, President Putin hailed growing trust with China. He also raised doubts about a peace treaty with Japan being signed anytime soon. But it wasn’t all world politics and economic issues.

At just under four hours, it wasn’t Putin’s longest press conference.

But with five more years of his presidential term, his record could still be broken.