Kremlin grants global media rare audience with Putin at Economic Forum

According to Russian state media, Mr. Putin will convene with approximately one dozen media leaders representing publications and broadcasters from a range of nations, including those whose relations with the Kremlin have soured in recent years.

The Kremlin is making preparations to provide select global media outlets with a rare face-to-face audience with President Vladimir Putin. The tightly controlled engagement is slated for this Wednesday on the eve of the annual St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

According to Russian state media, Mr. Putin will convene with approximately one dozen media leaders representing publications and broadcasters from a range of nations, including those whose relations with the Kremlin have soured in recent years. The high-stakes meeting marks Putin’s first such interaction with international media heavyweights since 2021.

While billed as an opportunity for frank dialogue, past precedent suggests the event will more closely resemble a tight exercise in message management from the Russian leader. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov left little doubt, stating that President Putin will articulate his worldview and Russia’s positioning on issues of global importance.

Indeed, the sessions have historically provided Putin a platform to interact with critical journalists while acknowledging the virtues of Russian policy. Reporters can insist on pressing the Russian president with questions and follow-ups as well.

The inclusion of media representatives from nations far and wide by the Kremlin has raised eyebrows. While intended to project an air of fair dealing, the reality is that any overly prosecutorial line of questioning from Western outlets risks provoking Putin’s infamous wrath before a global television audience.

As Russia’s illegal warfare in Ukraine continues to grind ahead, much remains uncertain about what messages the Russian president intends to deliver during next week’s economic forum in his nation’s erstwhile cultural capital. But the process’s careful stage management leaves little doubt the proceedings will amount to little more than an elaborately rehearsed masque.