Graphics: What to expect from Putin's marathon year-end press conference
Updated 13:28, 18-Dec-2019
By Hu Yiwei, Wang Mengjie

Russian President Vladimir Putin hosts his 15th annual press conference on Thursday (December 19) in Moscow. This is one of the few chances for foreign media to directly ask the Russian president a question.

Past events overview

Since 2001, Putin has fielded questions for hours from hundreds of journalists from Russia and abroad on a variety of topics, ranging from nuclear weapons to the president's personal issues, such as Putin's marriage plans.

However, the most common question is: how long will this year's press conference last?

The shortest conference – the first one in 2001 – lasted 93 minutes. Then the event got longer and longer, until the record was set in 2008's year-end conference, which last four hours and 40 minutes.

It is up to Putin to decide when to stop the annual event. Since 2004, they have lasted at least three hours. 

But the marathon event doesn't guarantee that everyone gets to ask a question. Instead, just a minority of journalists get their questions heard, as the number of attendees packed in the venue grows every year. 

At least 1,000 journalists have been in attendance every year since 2006.

To get their voices heard, journalists hold up banners or even sometimes dress in weird costumes in the hope of attracting Putin's attention, and, with it, the chance to ask a question.

A record-breaking number of journalists – 1,895 – have been accredited to this year's Q&A conference, according to a list released by the Kremlin several days ago.

In this marathon event, Putin often addresses the economy, as well as issues of regional and international concern.

2019 predictions

What could be covered in this year's event? If past conferences could be any guide, the first topic raised – either by Putin himself or by the journalists – is usually the economy, especially after Western countries imposed sanctions on Russia, citing its intervention in Crimea in 2014.

Viewers this year can expect the president to take more questions related to U.S. President Donald Trump, Russia-Ukraine ties, and the recent doping ban.

Here are some of the possible topics collected by CGTN.

Nuclear weapons: U.S. and Russian foreign ministers on December 10 remained apart on arms control after talks, with Moscow offering to extend the only remaining nuclear arms reduction pact while Washington is calling for a broader deal involving China.

Trump impeachment: The U.S. president is facing impeachment over charges accusations that he delayed nearly 400 million U.S. dollars in aid to Ukraine to combat Russian-backed separatists as he pressed for an investigation into the election theory as well as into his domestic rival Joe Biden. Russia has always denied meddling.

Economy: To revive the sluggish economy, Putin has put 13 projects, ranging from healthcare and education to infrastructure, at the heart of his fourth six-year term that began in 2018. He has ordered the government to try to raise economic growth above the world average by 2025.

Doping: World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) imposed a four-year ban from participating in international events on December 9 for a string of state-sponsored offenses and what it called the country's brazen efforts to mislead investigators. Putin slammed the ban and called it politically motivated.

"Second Skripal case:" Germany is reportedly opening a formal investigation into suspicions Russia was behind the killing of Zelimkhan Khangoshvili in central Berlin earlier this year, which the Kremlin has denied

Read more: Russia to expel 2 German diplomats in tit-for-tat move

Ukraine: Face-to-face talks between the leaders of Russia and Ukraine yielded modest progress, with tentative agreements on prisoner exchanges and a total ceasefire, but no political breakthrough to the five-year old conflict in southeast Ukraine.

Syria: The Kremlin announced Monday that it expected Idlib's situation to be settled soon by "liberating the province from terrorists" in a way that guarantees the security of Russian forces and the Syrian military.

China: Reaching 70 billion U.S. dollars, the bilateral trade between Russia and China increased by around 4.5 percent in the first eight months of 2019, and the pair is set to double trade to 200 billion U.S. dollars by 2024 with help of soybeans. 

Read more: Xi Jinping, Putin witness launch of China-Russia east-route natural gas pipeline

Turkey: Turkey has already agreed to buy two consignments of S-400s from Moscow, triggering a crisis with the United States and possible U.S. sanctions, but Ankara is discussing technology transfer and joint production with Moscow for the second batch.

Cracking some jokes, maybe: During last year's press conference, questions like "When are you getting married?" made the marathon meeting a bit of fun, so maybe this year, the president will face questions about being one of Russia's "most eligible bachelors".