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Putin To Deliver Annual Address To Russians

Russian President Vladimir Putin will deliver his annual address to parliament on December 4.

The state-of-the-nation speech is delivered in the Kremlin's ornate St. George Hall before an audience that includes top officials, religious leaders, and other public figures.

It starts at noon local time and is to be televised live on state channels.

This year, Putin is likely to assure Russians that he and the country are in the right amid severly strained relations with the West over the crisis in Ukraine.

He is likely to seek to calm fears caused by the steep decline of the ruble and to show resolve in the face of U.S. and EU sanctions imposed over Moscow's annexation of Crimea and support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Hours before the address, a fierce gun battle erupted between security forces and militants in the capital of long-beleaguered Chechna, Grozny, that killed at least nine people.

The president's annual address to the Federal Assembly, Russia's two-chamber parliament, is a constitutional obligation.

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