Year in, year out: Putin's press conference

In his annual press conference Russian President Vladimir Putin again spent several hours answering journalists' questions. Over 1,600 media representatives jostled to get their questions in. A major media event in Russia, the conference is also closely followed by the rest of the world. Europe's journalists ask what the president's answers mean for future Russian policies.

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Ekho Moskvy (RU) /

A farce from a journalistic point of view

The event could have provided more insights if the media representatives had made more of an effort to fulfil their journalistic duties, Tanya Felgengauer complains in Echo of Moscow:

“They come to lobby, to plead, to express their gratitude or to curry favour. I don't understand how they can laugh out loud at the president's silly jokes and applaud his answers. How they can shout to draw attention and interrupt colleagues asking serious questions. And then they come to me and say: 'Oh Tanya, how gutsy, what a question!' It was a normal question that didn't take any courage. All it took was being given the opportunity to ask it! ... Why did so few of those present use this opportunity? ... All this has nothing to do with journalism.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

After Putin the flood

Putin's decision to run as an independent candidate gives a taste of what's in store for the country, the Süddeutsche Zeitung believes:

“The system is being tailored to Putin even more than before. After 18 years of his leadership the state institutions are in ruins. The parliament, the government and the regional governors have no say at all and are despised by the people, as the polls show. That gives the president even more power and apparently makes governing easier. But even Putin can't take care of everything himself, even if he gives the impression that he can. And one day even he will no longer be able - or willing - to govern. An orderly transition will be all the more difficult if there are no institutions left to hold the country together.” (UA) /

Putin will move on Ukraine question

Things will change for Ukraine once Putin is re-elected, journalist Vitali Portnikov writes in the web portal LB:

“Putin's words show that he wants to reach an agreement regarding Donbas, but with the Americans, not with the Europeans or with us. For him the Normandy format was a political lever to gain influence. The consultations with the Americans are a way to receive guarantees, including personal ones. At least we now know which way he wants to take things.”

Newsweek Polska (PL) /

President without a vision

For Newsweek Polska Putin had nothing new to say and gave a foretaste of his next term:

“It was plain for all to see: this will be a time of standstill in which the oligarchs and the Kremlin elite will be defended at all cost. ... Even through brute force. The direction Putin is taking the country in will remind older Russians of the Brezhnev era. Yes, he was bubbling with energy and humour, nevertheless appearances were deceptive. It was clear that he's stuck in the mud and doesn't know how to move the country forward. Putin isn't yet Brezhnev, but the model of a Putinesque state is slowly losing its appeal.”

Il Sole 24 Ore (IT) /

Rival not even called by his name

Putin has made abundantly clear what he thinks of political competition, Il Sole 24 Ore believes:

“His priority was to eliminate any suspicion that 18 years in power might have left him tired or even weakened. ... He is the father of the nation, a cross-party guarantor of stability, the only right president for Russia. His answer to opposition leader Ksenia Sobchak's question as to whether the leadership in Russia was afraid of fair competition wouldn't admit any contradiction: more than perhaps ever before Putin made it clear that he's not afraid of anyone. And he compared 'that person' - because Putin refuses to call Navalny by his name, as if he refused to acknowledge him - with the ex-president of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili, who is currently campaigning against President Poroshenko in Ukraine. 'Do you want a Maidan in Russia?' Putin asked. 'Do you want dozens of people like Saakashvili?'”