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Live Blog: Putin's Annual Press Conference

The Russian president fields selected questions on domestic and international affairs, with the country showing signs it might pull out of recession in 2017 and Russia's military supporting Assad in Syria and separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's 12th annual press conference was staged in front of around 1,500 selected journalists in Moscow, many of whom wave signs to try to get their questions addressed.

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-- At his press conference with selected journalists on December 23, Russian President Vladimir Putin downplayed U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's tweet on nuclear capabilities as "nothing new" but warned of the threat of a new arms race with the United States if any side develops antimissile systems.

-- Putin also paraphrased Trump on the election-hacking question, saying, "How would we know it was Russia ...[and not] someone lying on a sofa who did it?"

-- He vowed that the assassination this week of Russia's ambassador to Ankara, Andrei Karlov, would not damage Russia-Turkey ties.

-- Putin downplayed the possibility of an early Russian presidential election in 2017, saying, "It is possible, but inexpedient." He left open whether he would run for a fourth term.

-- Putin cited "reasons for optimism" on Russia's economy and an "overall positive dynamic" based on 0.6 percent economic contraction in 2016.

-- On doping in sports, Putin called it "unthinkable" that Russia had any state program for doping (despite mounting evidence in multiple reports from international athletic groups, including another damning announcement today).

* NOTE: Times are stated according to local time in Moscow (GMT/UTC +3)

13:00 23.12.2016

Putin, seemingly relishing the moment to comment on U.S. democracy and recent elections, says of U.S. Democratic Party, "If you lose, you need to lose with dignity."

12:59 23.12.2016
12:59 23.12.2016

Putin criticizes the Obama administration and the Democratic Party for trying to blame their own failures on Russia. Is it also Russia's fault that the Democrats lost the Senate and the House, he asks. Putin says the problem in the U.S. is with the Obama administration, which has lost touch with average Americans. Putin says his high approval rating in the U.S. means that many Americans agree with him on how the international order should be structured and what are the real threats facing the world, approve of Russia's support for "traditional values." Putin says that former U.S. President Reagan would be happy that Trump won and that relations can be based on mutual respect. Says that Franklin Delano Roosevelt would also approve. Obama administration has divided America, while FDR brought the country together during the most difficult times. Notes that more Electoral College members were faithless to Democratic candidate Clinton than to Trump. Says people have to learn how to lose gracefully.

12:56 23.12.2016

Important to note that Putin's response on the Nemtsov investigation avoided comment on whether a key figure, Ruslan Geremeyev, deputy commander of a special police battalion in Chechnya, will be force to testify at the trial of five suspects, which is ongoing.

The court trying five men charged in connection with Nemstov's February 2015 slaying earlier this month summoned Geremeyev.

Lawyers for Nemtsov's family believe testimony from Geremeyev could help determine who ordered Nemtsov's contract-style killing on a bridge near the Kremlin, but he has never been questioned and his whereabouts are unknown, leading lawyers to suspect he may be under the protection of Kremlin-backed Chechen leader, Ramzan Kadyrov.

"I fully support investigations into the case. I hope that all the people involved and those guilty in that crime will be found," Putin said during his annual press conference on December 23.

But he did not respond to a portion of the question about Geremeyev.

12:54 23.12.2016

Next question is about international situation. Says people around the world are voting "against old elites." Asks whether Putin has discussed this with his advisers, notes that according to polls 37 percent of U.S. Republicans approve of Putin. Asks how Putin feels as "the most influential person in the world."

12:54 23.12.2016
12:53 23.12.2016

Putin says in the future Russia is focusing on development of ship-building, chemical, tourism, and agriculture sectors in Crimea. Putin says he'd like to see high-tech sector develop there in order to minimize environmental impact.

12:52 23.12.2016
12:49 23.12.2016

Putin says the government has a dedicated program for the development and integration of Crimea into Russia. Says it is a complex project that must be done in compliance with Russian legislation, but that he is satisfied with how it is proceeding. Says industrial production in the region is growing faster than in Russia as a whole.

12:49 23.12.2016

One person is holding a sign that says: “Putin is cosmos.”

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