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Putin's Annual Direct Line Call-In Television Program Will Not Be Held This Year, Spokesman Says

Putin's call-ins often last for several hours.
Putin's call-ins often last for several hours.

MOSCOW -- Russian President Vladimir Putin's annual TV call-in television program, Direct Line, put off since June because of the coronavirus outbreak, will not be held this year.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the TASS state-run news agency on September 9 that it has been decided that holding the 18th iteration of the marathon in its traditional format during which Putin answers -- for hours -- prescreened questions from the Russian public wasn't necessary.

"The president has in fact been holding a direct line for the past few months already. That is why, naturally, holding a 'Direct Line' this year in its traditional format would be too much," TASS quoted Peskov as saying.

Peskov did not specify when and how Putin had held direct lines recently with Russian citizens, though since mid-March, he has made several addresses to the nations regarding the pandemic.

Peskov added that "elements of the Direct Line program" will be added to Putin's annual marathon press conference in December.

Direct Line is a forum where citizens call into the television studio and ask Putin questions.

The event usually last several hours and covers a wide range of issues.

Putin, who has been president or prime minister since August 1999, riffed for just over four hours in last year's broadcast on the state of Russia's economy, its foreign-policy challenges, and other issues of concern. He took questions asked over live video links from Russia's regions, or read out by presenters in the studio.

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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