The public appearances of Russia's presidents have become rare and now a traditional citizens' question time with Vladimir Putin is postponed indefinitely. It is unclear whether he does not want to address the Ukraine war or whether there are health reasons.
The traditional TV public question session "The Direct Line" by Russian President Vladimir Putin will not take place in June this year, as has often been the case before. Preparations for the event were underway, but there is no specific date yet, said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, according to the Interfax agency. However, he ruled out hosting in June. In recent years, Question Time has always been held in June - with one exception in the Covid year 2020.
"The Direct Line" is a live broadcast lasting several hours in which Russian citizens can describe their personal concerns to the head of the Kremlin. The TV marathon gives Putin the opportunity to present himself to the population as a caring father of the country. Most of the time he promises the callers or viewers that they will solve the problem, be it outstanding salary payments, road repairs or the lack of a gas connection. In the past, however, some political questions were also asked.
It was unclear whether the delay was related to Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine, in which observers say the Russian army is making much worse progress than planned. Putin has rarely made public appearances since the invasion of the neighboring country he ordered at the end of February. Last week, Peskov had scheduled the Kremlin chief's television audience for a date shortly after the Petersburg International Economic Forum in mid-June.
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had also denied rumors that Kremlin boss Vladimir Putin was ill. "I don't think that reasonable people can see in this person signs of any kind of disease or infirmity." Putin, who will be 70 in October, appears in public "every day". "You can see him on screens, read and listen to his speeches," Lavrov said, according to a statement released by the Russian Foreign Ministry. Putin's health and personal life are taboo subjects in Russia and almost never discussed in public.