For the first time in 10 years, Russian President Vladimir Putin will not attend his customary large year-end press conference, according to the Kremlin.
However, the President “hopes he will find a time to talk,” according to spokesperson Dmitry Peskov.
The cancellation was not explained, but it coincides with a rise in anxiety among Russians about Mr. Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine in February.
Since then, Russian troops have experienced a number of setbacks.
On Monday, Mr. Peskov told reporters: “Regarding the huge news conference, absolutely, it won’t happen before the New Year.”
But he went on to say that Mr. Putin could find a method to speak with the media, highlighting the fact that “he does it frequently.”
Over the previous 10 years, the meticulously planned yearly press conferences in Moscow, which were attended by dozens of journalists from both Russia and abroad, have typically lasted for hours.
Mr. Putin went to great lengths to appear on national television as a leader who was attuned to the interests of ordinary Russians. He patiently responded to a variety of questions, from those posed by regional reporters about repairing shoddy roads in far-off villages and publicly criticising local officials, to those pertaining to the geopolitical landscape at large.
However, a number of people from Russia’s opposition have claimed that in the absence of press freedom, such events resembled orchestrated performances, where pro-Kremlin reporters were limited to asking the nation’s leader questions that were merely flattering.
They claimed that the presence of a few independent journalists, who weren’t always given the opportunity to ask questions, didn’t alter the overall picture.
Politicians from across the world, however, kept a careful eye on these gatherings in an effort to determine which direction the President wanted to take Russia.
The Kremlin also postponed President Putin’s yearly marathon phone-in in June but did not provide a new date.
The Kremlin leader must deliver his State of the Union address to parliament each year at the year’s end, according to the constitution. This matter is being looked at, according to Mr. Peskov and a decision on this made in due course.
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