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Live Blog: Putin's Annual Press Conference

Vladimir Putin held his annual news conference, which lasted three hours and 44 minutes. Here's the play-by-play of everything he said -- and the many reactions -- at the yearly spectacle.


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Key Highlights

-- The Russian president cast Russia’s sluggish economy in a positive light, while calling for improvements.

-- Putin criticized the United States for abandoning Cold War-era nuclear arms treaties, saying that the risk of a devastating war should not be underestimated.

-- Putin repeated his claim that Kyiv was to blame for an incident in which Russian forces fired on Ukrainian naval vessels off Russian-held Crimea on November 25.

-- Putin reiterated Russian denials of a series of accusations of what Western officials have called "malign activities" around the globe.

-- The president lashed out over the creation of an independent Orthodox Church of Ukraine, where a church linked with Russia has long dominated.

-- Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny is holding his own live-stream of the Putin press conference.

-- Putin’s year-end question-and-answer event is closely managed. Only specially selected publications are given the chance to ask a question, which usually range from a bit of geopolitical issues to a lot of local concerns.

16x9 Image Tony Wesolowsky

Interesting graphic on Twitter by Roman Yuhnovets. Shows the Russian TV channels broadcasting the Putin presser. Note the breakdown between the thumbs up and thumbs down clicked by those engaging.

16x9 Image Robert Coalson

Journalist asks whether Putin is preparing a meeting with U.S. President Trump. Putin says he hopes the bottom has been reached in U.S.-Russian relations but says he doesn't know when or if there will be a summit. Says Russia is open to one. Says relations on the "expert level" are proceeding ahead. Says trade is falling between the two countries and says that "working with Russia" could be an important part of "making America great again." Notes that the Democrats will soon take power in the House of Representatives and predicts there will "be new attacks on the president." Says democratic values are being undermined in the West -- claims some people don't want to recognize Trump even though he was elected, again raises issue of those calling for a second referendum on Brexit. Urges Western experts to discuss this.

16x9 Image Robert Coalson

A journalist from Ryazan asks Putin to support "deceived mortgage holders" who took out mortgages for apartments that were never built. Says her husband was murdered because of her work on this topic. Discusses the problem in St. Petersburg, although it is a national issue. Says her appeal is "not a question but a cry for help." Putin says he will "definitely give some attention" to the case of her husband's murder. Putin admits the mortgage problem is very serious and that the country needs to move to a "civilized" way of building housing. Says the government needs to help people who have been deceived.

16x9 Image Luke Allnutt

We have been "working," to use Peskov's word, for over three hours now.

16x9 Image Robert Coalson

A journalist from The Wall Street Journal says many in the West think Putin wants to rule the world and asks if this is really true. Putin says there is a force that wants to rule the world, but it isn't in Moscow. Compares U.S. military budget to Russia's. Says the U.S. is creating Russia as an enemy to gather NATO countries around the U.S. Putin says Russia's main goal is to secure the conditions for the country's development. Russia, he says, is in favor of strengthening international law on the basis of the United Nations.

16x9 Image Robert Coalson

Peskov warns journalists to be brief and says "we've been working nearly three hours."

16x9 Image Robert Coalson

A journalist from Turkey asks what Putin's view of Kemal Ataturk is. Putin says he was definitely a major figure in Turkish history and did much for the establishment of an independent Turkish state and was a good friend of Russia. Putin adds that he is satisfied with how Turkish-Russian relations are developing.

16x9 Image Robert Coalson

A Russian journalist who lives in Daghestan asks Putin about the failure of media to reflect Russia's "multicultural" society -- says she sees only Slavic faces on TV. Putin says he has not noticed this and the journalists says, "I guess that means I only imagined it."

16x9 Image Tony Wesolowsky

Putin says Vagner private security company has right to work anywhere in the world as long as they don't break Russian law

.

16x9 Image Robert Coalson

Journalist from znak.com asks about numerous reports from around the country about torture in Russian prisons, most of which were uncovered by independent media and human rights activists. Asks what must be done and who will be held responsible. Putin says the situation in prisons must be kept under strict control by the Prosecutor-General's Office and the current situation is unacceptable. Says people are being held responsible as cases are uncovered. Says more must be done to increase public (civic) control over the prisons.

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