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Highlights from Putin's annual press conference The most noteworthy things Russia's president spent 3 hours telling journalists today

Source: Meduza
Photo: Kremlin press service

Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year press conference today in Moscow, where journalists assembled to ask Russia's commander in chief dozens of softball questions, as well as a few tough ones. Whether the questions were obsequious or probing, Putin almost invariably avoided a straight answer. Meduza recaps the three-hour presser, collecting the most memorable questions and summarizing Putin's responses.

At last year's press conference, you said that Russia would exit its current recession within two years, in the worst scenario. Has anything changed? (Interfax)

The peak of the crisis has passed. Disposable income has fallen, of course, but Russia's agricultural people are top-notch, cargo transshipments at Russian ports are rising, and airports are hosting more and more passengers. [Putin said nothing about his economic forecast from last year.]

Would you consider exchanging Russian military personnel Yevgeny Yerofeyev and Alexander Alexandrov for Nadezhda Savchenko, Oleg Sentsova, or other Ukrainians under criminal indictment in Russia? (UNIAN, Ukrainian Independent Information Agency)

Any exchange has got to be an honest one: everyone for everyone. Russia has always said there were no regular Russian troops in eastern Ukraine, but this doesn't mean there weren't Russian citizens in Ukraine engaged in "solving certain issues in the military sphere."

Do you think it would be wise to suspend temporarily Attorney General Yuri Chaika, Pskov Governor Andrei Turchak, and other officials publicly suspected of criminal activity? Are you planning to restaff your cabinet? (TASS, RBC, Echo of Moscow, and Znak)

It's unnecessary. I'm very careful with these individuals, and if investigations are necessary they will be conducted by the Presidential Control Directorate. Generally speaking, we also need to be checking where this information about officials and their children originates on the Internet. 

Should Russia permanently keep its military base in Syria? (Rossiya-1)

I don't know. Now we've got long-range rockets, so we can reach the enemy, no matter what, if it comes to it. Maybe we'll leave behind some kind of military presence, but you never can tell.

What's happening with our gas exports? We're not building South Stream anymore. The same probably goes for Turkish Stream. Some countries are speaking out against Nord Stream 2, and Ukraine might interrupt Russian gas deliveries. What will we do? (NTV)

We're not against any of these projects—they're just not letting us get them built. We've had a split with the Turkish government, and for the time being it's unclear what needs to happen to bring us back together. So we'll work with Ukraine for now, if it's capable of working with us.

Is Katerina Tikhonova your daughter? (RBC)

My daughters study and work in Russia. They aren't involved in business or politics. I won't say anything about them because I don't discuss my daughters. 

Can we bring back dirk thrusting daggers for naval reserve uniforms? (Novyi Chernomorets)

We can!

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