Russia's President Vladimir Putin uses his annual news conference to reassure his public. Covering the economy, Turkey, Syria, Ukraine, sanctions, policy and his family - all in the space of three hours. But as Grace Pascoe reports the volatile oil price is spoiling the mood.
Three hours of facing the press - are the Russian public reassured after his marathon annual news conference? That's what President Putin hopes. The troubled economy was high on the agenda. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) RUSSIAN PRESIDENT, VLADIMIR PUTIN, SAYING: "The government expects the economy to grow by 0.7 percent in 2016, by 1.9 percent in 2017, and by 2.4 percent in 2018. I want to draw your attention to the fact that all that is calculated with an oil price of $50 per barrel. Now, the rate is lower and volatility is very high... Statistics show that the Russian economy has passed the crisis in general. At least a peak of the crisis, not the crisis itself." The Ukraine crisis, Syria, Turkey, a weakening rouble and falling oil prices are all impacting the Russian economy. Which is forecast to shrink by around 4 percent this year - its sharpest contraction since the global financial crisis. Jan Randolph is from IHS Global Insight. (SOUNDBITE) (English) DIRECTOR OF SOVEREIGN RISK AT IHS GLOBAL INSIGHT, JAN RANDOLPH, SAYING: "I think next year there may be some very small positive growth but if the oil price continues to sag, even that may be optimistic." Putin expects trade relations with the Ukraine to worsen in 2016. And Mike Ingram of BGC Partners thinks finances there present a very real worry. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BGC PARTNERS, MARKET ANALYST, MIKE INGRAM, SAYING: " It is effectively being propped up by a combination of the IMF and to some extent the very limited patience of the Russian government." Russia's economic crisis has hit ordinary Russians hard. Cutting incomes, pushing up prices, and halving their buying power in the West.