Putin breaks with tradition - secret service sees "concern" about mood in Russia
Created: 12/13/2022, 11:08 p.m
By: Stephanie Munk
Putin's annual press conference has a long tradition.
But in the midst of the Ukraine war, Russia's president refrained from doing so.
Secret service agents suspect that he harbors certain fears.
Moscow - For the first time in ten years, Russian President Vladimir Putin is not inviting the international media to the traditional annual press conference.
"As for the big press conference, no, it won't be until the New Year," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, according to the Interfax agency.
He didn't give a reason.
Peskov merely pointed out that Putin also speaks to the press on other occasions, notably during his trips abroad.
Observers are convinced that Putin wants to avoid questions from international journalists - given the war in Ukraine that has been going on for more than nine months and in which the Russian army has suffered many defeats.
For the first time in ten years, Vladimir Putin is not inviting the international media to the traditional annual press conference.
© Aleksey Nikolskyi/Pool Sputnik Kremlin/AP/dpa
The Kremlin checks journalists' questions in advance - but fear is probably increasing
The British secret service also writes in its most recent situation report that Putin is probably also concerned about criticism from Russia itself: "The reason for the cancellation is probably growing concern that anti-war sentiment in Russia is gaining the upper hand," the British secret service suspects .
According to the British secret service, the questions from the journalists would most likely be checked and approved by the Kremlin in advance.
Nevertheless, the Kremlin's employees are "extremely sensitive" to the danger that Putin will be put through the wringer at some event on the basis of a spontaneous discussion on the "military special operation" in Ukraine.
Putin's press conference: Hour-long question and answer session with hundreds of journalists is cancelled
Putin had held his big meeting with the press year after year since 2001 - a total of 17 times.
The only interruption was the period between 2008 and 2012 when Putin was prime minister and not head of state.
Hundreds of Russian and foreign journalists usually take part in the press conference.
Putin answers live questions on a wide variety of topics - from foreign policy to everyday problems of Russians.
In 2021 it lasted over four hours.
The fact that Putin is now refraining from this detailed round of questions could also be due to the partial mobilization that has been in force in Russia since September, which is apparently causing massive resentment in the country.
The harsh Western sanctions against Russia, which were recently joined by an oil embargo by the EU, could also play a role.
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Putin cancels further appointments
The traditional New Year's reception in the Kremlin is also to be canceled this year in Russia.
There is also no date for Putin's annual speech to the two chambers of parliament.
It is questionable whether there will be a national television consultation hour, “Direct Line”, in which citizens can usually personally submit complaints to Putin every year.
"The more strength and energy Putin devotes to 'global' issues, the less he wants to waste it on 'little things' like the direct line or press conferences," writes political scientist Tatyana Stanovaya on Telegram.
“For the external audience he can also say everything he thinks is necessary, there is always a reason.
But he sees no point in communicating with the public in the country.
Let the subordinates do that...".