Russian president to hold yearly press conference

Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold his annual press conference in a virtual format today with questions submitted by both

Putin press conference

Photo: Maxim Zmeyev/ Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold his annual press conference in a virtual format today with questions submitted by both journalists and pre-screened Russian citizens.

The president has had a tumultuous year that began with speculation about his retirement followed by a referendum that extended his term limit until 2036. On top of that, the COVID-19 pandemic decimated Russia’s economy and oil revenue while popular protests in Belarus threatened to winnow Moscow’s post-Soviet sphere of influence.

Putin is unlikely to announce any major policy changes at the press conference. Instead, he will use the opportunity to manage his public image for the year ahead, emphasising the difficult choices he faces while under tremendous foreign pressure. In doing so, he will sidestep questions about his lacklustre COVID-19 stimulus.

The next few weeks will see a wide push to vaccinate the Russian population with the hope of bringing the economy back to normalcy and avoiding a costly fiscal bailout. This may prove difficult considering that over half of Russians do not trust the efficacy of Russia’s domestic vaccine, possibly dragging the process out for a considerable length of time.

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