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Putin puts on brave face, promises rapid recovery

One of his ministers says economy is going through a crisis and concedes that there was no coherent plan on how to tackle it if oil prices do not rebound

Moscow

RUSSIAN President Putin on Thursday attempted to assuage fears of economic collapse and promised rapid recovery as he faced hundreds of journalists during the worst financial crisis of his rule.

Speaking at his annual press conference, the Russian leader said that the economic downturn will last two years at the most and he promised to support the poorest segment of the population.

"Under the most unfavourable world conditions, such a situation can last two years," Mr Putin said days after the Russian rouble fell to record lows, following a 60 per cent dive in value since the beginning of the year.

He added that efforts by the central bank and government - including a record hike of the key...

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