Vladimir Putin is poised to cancel his annual press conference to avoid criticism of his failed invasion of Ukraine after refusing to travel to Bali for the G-20 summit.
The big year-end meeting usually takes place between December 14 and 23, but the Kremlin refuses to confirm this.
He has already postponed his annual face-to-face question-and-answer session with ordinary Russians for fear of receiving complaints about the war and its chaotic mobilization.
Instead, Putin is likely to address Russia’s Senate — called the Federation Council — “before the end of the year.”
It is easier to organize than to be questioned by the public or journalists, even the willing state media.
Vladimir Putin is set to cancel his annual press conference to avoid criticism of his failed invasion of Ukraine after refusing to travel to Bali for the G-20 summit (pictured today).
A woman waves a Ukrainian flag in the center of the recently recaptured city of Kherson today
At the annual press conference, he regularly answers questions from more than 500 Russian and foreign journalists in major live TV events that can last more than four hours.
A decision has already been taken to exclude the Western press from the press conference, a source told the Telegram channel Mozhem Obyasnit.
But it has now been revealed that there are currently no plans to hold the event, it is reported.
The delays will fuel suspicions that Putin fears scrutiny or that, at 70, he is not healthy enough to endure the long sessions in front of the world.
There is much speculation about Putin’s health, including persistent – but unproven – rumors that he is suffering from cancer.
Last December, Putin held the annual year-end press conference in the central Manege exhibition hall
He expected Ukraine to be overrun within days, but the conflict has now lasted nearly nine months and has achieved little for Putin.
His spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said that the most important matches in his travel schedule cannot normally be boosted because Putin’s schedule is “very dynamic” and “the current situation is developing very quickly”.
It appears to be a clear admission that Putin is being thrown off course by a war he has lost control of.
A plan to combine his press conference and Direct Line also appears to be out of the question, at least in the near future.
In the past, both events took place in December, but there seems to be no enthusiasm for them anymore.
At the annual press conference, he regularly receives questions from more than 500 Russian and foreign journalists (picture 2016)
Local residents use a boat to cross a reservoir next to a bridge destroyed by shelling in the recaptured settlement of Staryi Saltiv
The press conference with Putin has been held annually in December for the past ten years.
A record 1,895 journalists were accredited in 2019.
The direct line with the Russians usually takes place in the summer, but this year it was delayed, apparently because of the war.
“The president has not yet decided on the exact timing for a number of events,” Peskov admitted.
“Of course it wouldn’t make sense to keep them in a row. They must be spread over time.
“Probably the most important is the State of the Union address to the Federal Council.
“Once the date is set, there will be more clarity about further events and other formats.”