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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)

16:41 23.12.2016

Here's our summing-up of the press conference.

16:00 23.12.2016

15:58 23.12.2016
15:54 23.12.2016

Putin wishes everyone a happy new year and leaves the hall after just under four hours onstage and onscreen.

15:54 23.12.2016
15:51 23.12.2016

Third question! They said only two more! But ahh, the public demands it.

15:50 23.12.2016

Next question: Reporter from a children's newspaper notes that newspapers from children are not purchased by libraries anymore and asks if the government can help get such papers back in libraries. He also relays a question from an 8-year-old reader who asks what kind of robot Putin needs in the Kremlin. Putin says the decisions made in the Kremlin affect millions of people and have to be made by humans. Putin says the government supports libraries. Says libraries should be turned into "multimedia centers" and government at local and national level need to pay more attention to this. It isn't just a matter of sending more money, he says.

15:49 23.12.2016
15:49 23.12.2016

Should note that Putin suggested that the recent poisoning deaths in Irkutsk -- where dozens of people drank scented bath lotion containing methyl alcohol, or methanol -- was the fault of foreigners.

"A number of individuals, who are citizens of a foreign country, started that business -- production of the bath lotion. One of them decided to earn some money separately and found somewhere...technical alcohol [methanol] without, I think, knowing of the possible consequences."

15:47 23.12.2016

Next question: Reporter asks what Putin considers his biggest mistake of 2016 and the biggest of his entire presidency. Putin says everyone makes mistakes. Says he tries to learn lessons from his mistakes so that there will be fewer of them and so that he can work more effectively.

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