President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia will not hold his marathon December news conference this year, breaking with an annual tradition that dates back to the early years of his presidency.
Dmitri S. Peskov, Mr. Putin’s spokesman, told reporters during a daily briefing on Monday that the event would not take place, although he held out the possibility that it might be rescheduled for the new year.
The move comes as Russia’s economy falters under sanctions and follows a series of significant military losses for Moscow’s campaign in Ukraine. Mr. Peskov did not give a reason as to why the news conference would not be held, but noted that Mr. Putin “regularly speaks to the press, including on foreign visits.” Those appearances are limited to the pool of reporters regularly assigned to the Kremlin, however.
Often stretching to four hours or more, the December news conference is one of the few times during the year when reporters outside the Kremlin pool, including foreign correspondents, get the chance to ask Mr. Putin questions directly. Mr. Putin has held 17 of the news conferences since 2001 — he has on occasion skipped one — and they have become a set piece on his calendar, along with other events like the national call-in show in the early summer when he fields questions from ordinary Russians.
The news conferences usually unroll in a circus-like atmosphere, with reporters waving signs containing some of Mr. Putin’s signature phrases, or wearing costumes from their native regions, in the hopes of catching his eye and getting to ask a question. The sessions are a chance for Mr. Putin to put on display his command of the facts affecting all aspects of Russian life, and ostensibly, to show his “openness” to all queries.
Mr. Putin prefers scripted events, however, using a few such appearances last week to try to portray the Russian invasion of Ukraine as going according to plan, despite a series of military setbacks, including the loss of the major southern city of Kherson, which Russia had illegally annexed. Thousands of Russians have been killed since Moscow launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February, an issue that also generally goes unmentioned on state television.
Questions from foreign correspondents are usually — to a certain extent — choreographed in advance, with the Kremlin asking reporters ahead of time what they might be inclined to ask Mr. Putin. But it would be possible for either a Russian or international reporter to detail some of the setbacks in the war and to ask Mr. Putin to explain them live on national television.
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