Police arrest protestors trying to get into Vladimir Putin's news conference

One protestor wanted to ask Putin, 'What is your sexual orientation now?'

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The Independent Online

Several protestors who said they wanted to ask Russian President Vladimir Putin questions at his annual news conference were arrested on Thursday.

Video from outside Putin's conference showed demonstrators being dragged onto a police bus as officers arrested around 20 people who had gathered outside a metro station an hour before Putin's event began.

They were reportedly trying to get into the event without authorisation; only accredited members of the media were granted entry.

One woman read aloud a list of questions people had for Putin.

"Why you've decided not to make Russia a prosperous country? What is your sexual orientation now?" Nataliya Diodasina said, the latter question presumably referring to anti-gay legislation Putin has passed during his time in office and which came under international criticism during this year's Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Another woman at the gathering, Svetlana Kiseleva, told the Associated Press, "People didn't even have time to think about the questions, they've been immediately loaded in a van. So it's not just that we can't ask questions - we can't even think of them."

The reason for the arrests was not disclosed by the Russian police.

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The Russian president's news conference, which is being televised, is expected to run for three or four hours.

Putin said the Russian economic crisis could last two years and he claimed the West "wants to chain the bear".

The conference saw the President answer questions ranging from economic recovery to concerns over his love life, with Putin at one point assuring a journalist: "I have people who love me, everything is just fine, don't worry".

Additional reporting by the Associated Press.

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