Putin to be in televised phone-in on Christmas Eve
December 19, 2001
MOSCOW (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin will host a televised phone-in from his Kremlin office on Christmas Eve, fielding questions live from Russians around the country, the presidential press service said Wednesday.
The phone-in will be broadcast on the state-run ORT and RTR television networks across Russia's 11 time zones, from the Kamchatka Peninsula in the far east to the western enclave of Kaliningrad, hemmed in by Lithuania and Poland.
The Kremlin opened up a free-phone hotline Wednesday which took around 2,000 calls within a few hours of opening, ORT said.
The call center will remain open until the end of the live broadcast, which starts at 4 a.m. EST Dec. 24. Officials say they expect around 1.5 million calls.
Staff at the center said calls so far had focused on hard-pressed Russians' main preoccupations -- low living standards, pensions and conditions in the army.
Citizens connected to the Internet will be able to put questions via the World Wide Web, the presidential press service said.
Putin, 49, has used radio phone-ins and the Internet to talk to domestic and international audiences before to underscore his style as a modern, efficient manager.
In March, Putin defended his policies on reform, press freedom and Chechnya in a Web cast with two Russian Web sites and the BBC, in which he also revealed his tastes in music, literature and leisure.
In February 2000, Putin took questions on a call-in show organized by a popular Moscow daily, part of a charm offensive designed to soften his image as a tough and calculating leader ahead of presidential elections the following month. ---- Questions can be submitted on the Internet at the web site www.ortrtr.ru, or by calling 8-(tone)-8-00-200-40-40. The calls are free of charge and accepted from Wednesday until the end of the live transmission Dec. 24. A transcript of the interview is to appear on the web site Dec. 25.