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<p style="white-space: normal;"><br/></p><p style="white-space: normal;">Russian President Vladimir Putin kicks off an annual press conference, his first major public appearance since announcing he would seek a new six-year term in March 2018 elections, saying he will stand for election as an independent candidate.</p><p style="white-space: normal;"><img src="https://imedia-peoplesdaily.pdnews.cn/up/cms/www/201811/071658476ipe.jpg" title="15100949gwre.jpg" alt="15100949gwre.jpg"/></p><p style="white-space: normal;"><span style="color: rgb(110, 110, 110); font-family: "Microsoft YaHei", 微软雅黑, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);">Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during his annual news conference in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Dec. 14. (Photo: AP)</span></p><p><br/></p>