Blockbuster Trailer for Putin Event Tantalizes Russians

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Russian President Vladimir Putin is preparing to make blockbuster pronouncements on this year’s most dramatic events, judging from the trailers running on state television for his annual media conference tomorrow.

Drawing comparisons to an advertisement for a Hollywood thriller, a 41-second clip flashes images of destruction, disease, tragedy and triumph across the screen against a soundtrack of booming drumbeats before ending with the date and time of “Vladimir Putin’s big press conference.”

Scenes from Ukraine’s “Euromaidan” protests and the Sochi Winter Olympics mix with shots of war, Islamic State terrorism in the Middle East, Russia’s first woman on the International Space Station and the Ebola crisis in West Africa. Extreme weather disasters also feature, as does a shot of a protester burning a European Union flag.

The epic trailer attracted bemusement on Twitter, where some commentators said the soundtrack resembled the theme from the Terminator films, which starred Arnold Schwarzenegger as a robot sent from the future to try to save humanity from itself.

If the implication is that Russians are eager to know how Putin will save them from global crises, the reality of his annual meeting with the media is often far more prosaic. Many of the journalists who cram into the event have traveled to Moscow from Russia’s regions and come primed with questions about burning local problems that they hope a word from the all-powerful president will solve.

Some resort to dramatic advertising of their own to try to grab his attention during the conference, which usually runs for at least four hours, holding up placards expressing devotion to Putin or identifying the region they represent. With 1,259 names on the Kremlin’s list of Russian and international journalists accredited for the meeting, such tactics can be the difference between success or failure.

The real blockbuster this year is the economy, though. As Russians grow poorer by the week, with the ruble in freefall and a slump in oil prices pushing the economy to the edge of recession, many viewers will probably be keenest to learn how Putin plans to restore the stability and prosperity that forms the bedrock of his appeal to the public as president.

Putin expects to answer tough questions at the news conference, with Russia’s economy and international affairs both key topics, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said today in an interview on Rossiya 24 television. Viewers will hear all they need from the president tomorrow, Peskov said.