The FT has hated Vladimir Putin for years, largely – it seems – for obscure oligarch-related reasons that I do not fully understand. Their write-up of his most recent press conference came out a few days back, and is a gothic masterpiece. The whole thing is written in the sepulchral tones you’d expect if, say, the Captain of the Titanic was appearing before a board of enquiry.
A defiant Vladimir Putin said Russia should brace itself for two years of recession, as he blamed economic woes on a western plot to defang the Russian bear.
The president was speaking at a three-hour press conference during which he addressed this week’s market turmoil in public for the first time.
He claimed that a period of economic hardship was the price Russia would have to pay to maintain its independence in the face of western aggression, repeatedly blaming the rouble’s plunge and a looming recession on ‘external factors’…
I’m not going to question them on the facts (facts are not really my domain), but merely point out what an odd contrast the gloomy summary makes when compared to the actual event. Because – love him or hate him – Putin’s epic pressers have become established as the high days and holidays of the journalistic calendar – four-hour sessions of misrule during which it’s fine to ask silly questions about pelmeni, reference old communist jokes, wear subversive hoodies and wave soft toys. Whatever disasters may be going on outside the hall (and usually there’s a good supply), for some unknown reason, a party atmosphere inevitably prevails inside.