'Party Leader' Hat for Putin's Live TV Linkup

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will continue a tradition he established as president, answering questions e-mailed by Russians and asked via video hook-up in a live television program at the beginning of the new year.

"The live show is expected in the beginning of January," a senior official in United Russia, the party Putin leads, said Tuesday on condition of anonymity, as he was not authorized to speak to the media on the topic.

This will be the seventh such broadcast since Putin established the tradition in 2001 and the first time since leaving the office of president that he will take questions from people that the Kremlin maintains are selected at random.

"He will act more in the role of party leader than prime minister," the United Russia official said.

He added that the party's representative offices in various regions, which began collecting questions and complaints addressed to Putin earlier this year, will be the venues from which people will ask their questions on the program.

Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said that the All-Russian Television and Radio Co. will broadcast the program live on the Rossia channel, Kommersant reported Tuesday.

During Putin's presidency, the programs were carried on both Rossia and Channel One.

In 2007, Putin answered 69 questions from all over the country in a program that lasted more than three hours. There were a total of 2,506,740 questions submitted last year, collected via telephone hot lines and an Internet portal set up specifically for the event.