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Ordinary Russians count the cost of Putin's defiance

Vladimir Putin struck a defiant pose today when he answered questions from journalist for over three hours, without notes.

But on the streets of Moscow signs of the panic gripping his country were all too evident - one high-end car dealer suspended sales as the rouble's plummeting value leaves it uncertain of what to charge.

ITV News Europe Editor James Mates reports.

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Putin: 'They will always try to put the bear on a chain'

Vladimir Putin was in defiant mood today. Credit: Reuters

Vladimir Putin was in defiant mood today when he faced his annual news conference, taking questions for over three hours from Russian and international journalists.

Among the Russian president's most eye-catching statements, he claimed Western countries wanted to "keep the bear on a chain" - a reference to a popular symbol of his country.

On the Russian economy recovering

Growth in the world economy is going to be secured. The pace will slow down, but there will be growth. The economy will grow and our economy will come out of its current situation. How long will it take? In the least favourable scenario I think about two years.

On a US-Saudi plot to lower the oil price

We are all witnessing a decline in energy prices. There are all sorts of conversations on why this is happening. Either there’s some kind of a plot by Saudi Arabia and the US to punish Iran or influence the economy of Russia, Venezuela, etc. It may be or it may not be.

On relations with the West

Sometimes I think, maybe it would be better for our bear to sit quiet, rather than chasing around the forest after piglets. To sit eating berries and honey instead. Maybe they will leave it in peace. They will not. Because they will always try to put him on a chain, and as soon as they succeed in doing so they tear out his fangs and his claws.

On his role in the current crisis

Responsibility for everything that happens in a country rests with the head of state, and further down according to rank.

Of course, the current situation has been provoked by external factors above all. But...much of what we planned to do and said we would do to diversify our economy over the last 20 years has not been done.

On Iran's nuclear programme

The Iranian government is showing great flexibility, in my view. I don't really undersand why a finaly agreement has not been signed on Iran's nuclear programme. I hope that will happen in the near future.

On his love life

Don't worry. Everything is fine. He asks 'do you have love?', I say 'what do you mean?', he says 'Do you love someone?', I say, 'Yes', he says 'Does somebody love you?', I say 'Yes'.

Russian government pledges £10 billion to support banks

Russia's government will provide 1 trillion roubles (£10.3 billion) in support to "systematically important" banks in the latest attempt to prop up the country's flagging economy.

Finance Minister Anton Siluanov told reporters: "First of all, we will support systemically important banks, so that economic transactions will be provided for. They are the main holders of deposits, the main transactions are carried out in those (banks)."

He added that Russia' central bank would determine which banks were "systematically important".

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Putin mistakenly jokes about stroke victim being drunk

Vladimir Putin had an embarrassing moment this morning when he inadvertently joked about a stroke victim being drunk.

Journalist Vladimir Mamatov asking President Putin a question.

The incident took place during the Russian president's press conference today when journalist Vladimir Mamtov stood up to ask him about a popular Russian alcoholic drink called Kvas.

Mr Putin interrupted him to say "you've already had yours", implying that Mr Mamatov was drunk.

However Russia Today later tweeted that the journalist had in fact suffered a number of strokes, which explained his halting speech.

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Losing Your Local?

Putin predicts rouble recovery and blames 'external factors'

Vladimir Putin making his annual address. Credit: APTN

Russian President Vladimir Putin says the country's uncertain economic situation has been provoked by "external factors", and believes it may take two years for the country to return to growth.

Speaking at a televised question and answer session in Moscow, he said he believes the country's currency, the rouble - which has recently been in freefall - will inevitably recover.

He also said he was confident Russia had sufficient currency reserves to deal with the uncertainty and said the central bank and government were taking adequate measures.

Putin added the Central Bank's current interest rate of 17% will not last throughout the currency's crisis.

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