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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.

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.

-- 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)

15:46 23.12.2016
15:46 23.12.2016

Putin says he can't tell and it depends on how long it takes Trump to form his team. Notes that Trump has called for better relations and says that relations couldn't be any worse than they are now.

15:45 23.12.2016

Next question is from an American reporter: when do you plan to meet with Trump and what will you discuss?

15:44 23.12.2016

Last two questions!

15:44 23.12.2016

Putin criticizing the Obama administration and the Democratic Party for trying to "blame" others for their electoral defeats, while praising U.S. President-elect Donald Trump.

Putin Mocks Democrats, Praises Trump
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15:43 23.12.2016
15:42 23.12.2016

Putin says the bad relations didn't just happen and that "we aren't to blame," "we didn't begin the military action in South Ossetia." Says he thinks there should be visa-free travel between the two countries. Said Moscow sees positive signs from some Georgian officials. Calls for closer cooperation in combating terrorism.

15:40 23.12.2016

Next question is from a reporter from Georgia. Asks whether there are perspectives for dialogue between Georgia and Russia or whether the current poor relations will continue.

15:39 23.12.2016
15:38 23.12.2016

Putin says what happened in Irkutsk was a horrible tragedy for which there are "no words." Blames local controllers for not preventing the tragedy. Says he agrees with stricter controls on industrial spirits and regrets this wasn't done sooner. Says the fact that such restrictions might harm certain industries is not a reason not to implement them. Regarding the "alcoholization of the population," Putin says it is a problem, although one shared by other northern European companies. Says alcohol shouldn't be sold near schools -- such laws exist and need to be enforced. Calls for educational work, including in the mass media. Says it is an important question for Russia that affects the demographic situation.

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