Putin hails Russia's economic strength at final press conference

Other News Materials 14 February 2008 14:26 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - President Vladimir Putin on Thursday hailed Russia's booming economy as the success of his years at the helm in his final address to over 1,300 reporters at the Kremlin's annual news conference.

Putin, who is barred from a third term, has endorsed his deputy prime minister's presidential candidacy in a bid to share power with his hand-picked successor when he steps down in May.

"All our base-line purposes have been achieved," Putin said Wednesday.

Broadcast across Russia's state television channels and radio stations, Putin ran through the Russian state's impressive growth figures of over 8 per cent per year.

"All eight years I have worked like a slave in the gallies from morning to night for this," Putin told journalists in the great hall.

Following Putin's seven minute speech, he began fielding questions from the hall packed with 1,331 reporters in a tradition he began seven years ago and that has come to be the mark of his presidency.

The massive press conference was expected to last a record-breaking four hours plus.

Journalists lined up from early morning in front of the Kremlin complex for the conference that has grown in size and length every year since Putin's first news conference in 2001, which was attended by 400 journalists.