UK & World News

  • 12 December 2013, 6:49

Putin To Give State-Of-The-Nation Address

Vladimir Putin is expected to discuss plans to grant an amnesty to tens of thousands of Russian prisoners in his annual state-of-the nation address.

The Kremlin typically keeps the contents of the speech secret ahead of its delivery, but the mass release is set to be announced in honour of the 20th anniversary of the constitution.

It is estimated between 50,000 and 100,000 prisoners could be freed.

He will also speak about the country's economic and social problems during the televised speech in the Grand Kremlin Palace, attended by around 1,000 people including lawmakers and the cabinet.

In his 2012 speech, Mr Putin addressed Russia's education system, housing issues and job creation.

Traditionally, state-of-the-nation addresses are big on patriotic themes and talk of the need to preserve Russian national identity.

Two thirds of the speech is generally dedicated to domestic issues, but it remains to be seen whether Mr Putin will use the patriotic theme to discuss the current events on his doorstep.

There have been huge demonstrations in Kiev over the Ukrainian president's decision not to sign a trade deal with Europe.

Ukraine is currently being pulled in two directions - by both Europe and Russia.

Mr Putin is dangling the supply of natural resources under the noses of the Ukrainians and does not want Ukraine to climb into bed with Europe, curbing Russia's sphere of influence.

Russia has had a successful year on the diplomatic front - playing a central role in brokering the handover of chemical weapons in Syria.

It was also central to negotiations which have led to a date being set for a second peace conference dubbed "Geneva Two" which it's hoped may pave the way towards a transitional government in Syria.

Relations with Russia have been severely tested over the Edward Snowden saga.

The former American NSA contractor fled to Russia in June after leaking details to the media of extensive internet and phone surveillance by American intelligence agencies.

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