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High street stores braced for rush on 'panic Saturday'

Shoppers are expected to spend millions as they buy last-minute Christmas gifts. Credit: Anthony Devlin/PA

High street spending is set to reach £1.2 billion today as festive shoppers hit the stores on "Panic Saturday".

Thirteen million consumers will spend £2.1 million for every minute the shops are open on last-minute gifts and groceries at an average of £92.31 per person, according to a report by the Centre for Retail Research (CRR).

The CRR has predicted in-store sales will reach £4.74 billion over the five days before Christmas - a 21% increase on last year. Overall, the seven day period before Christmas Day is predicted to see a 7% increase in spending and an 8% increase in transactions on the same period last year.

Some of the country's biggest high street names have slashed prices for what is expected to one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

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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