Relations with the West are extremely tense, the Corona crisis is struggling for his country: Russian President Vladimir Putin is answering questions from journalists today.

Amid extremely tense relations with the West, Russian President Vladimir Putin is holding his big annual press conference. Traditionally, he keeps this short before Christmas every year – it usually takes several hours. This year, due to the corona pandemic, it will take place only via video for the first time.

The annual conference starts at 10 a.m. German time. In this article, you can read Putin’s most important statements at the conference – and what they mean.

Putin on the corona crisis

Given the corona pandemic, Putin does not want to speak of a bad year. Which means bad and good, says Putin. The virus affected all aspects of life, but “We have mastered it better than other countries.” The gross domestic product (GDP) in Russia has fallen less than in many EU countries.

“Based on the economic figures that seem to be correct,” said Russia expert Jens Siegert, who leads the EU project “Public Diplomacy – EU and Russia” at the Goethe Institute in Moscow and was previously responsible for the country office of the Heinrich Böll Foundation. . Russia is about the same level as the EU countries. “That’s questionable for the pandemic itself,” says Siegert. “The Russian numbers of infections and deaths cannot be trusted. Many people who die and are infected with corona are not counted.”

In fact, before the corona pandemic, Russia was already in a serious economic crisis: high unemployment and discontent, for example with food prices, have now deteriorated significantly. Critics accuse Putin of not having solutions to the problems.

Putin’s health could also be a problem this year

Usually it concerns internal affairs, economics and foreign affairs. This year, Putin’s health condition could also be a problem. The 68-year-old has rarely attended appointments in person in recent months and hardly anyone has met him in person. Numerous rumors are therefore circulating. Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov recently stressed that Putin was healthy and fit when asked about the president’s health.

It is also eagerly awaited whether and how the Kremlin chief will respond to the latest allegations in the affair involving a poison attack on opposition member Alexei Navalny. An investigation team, including Spiegel and Bellingcat, reports that a group of at least eight agents from the Russian Secret Service was behind the attack. Navalny himself blames a “killer squad” on Putin’s orders. The EU has imposed sanctions on Russia for the use of Novichok group ammunition.

(This text will be continuously updated from the start of the press conference at 10:00 am)

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