Putin says has no fear over his position amid financial crisis

Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures during his annual end-of-year news conference in Moscow, Russia on Dec 18, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures during his annual end-of-year news conference in Moscow, Russia on Dec 18, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

MOSCOW (AFP) - President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that his grip on power remains secure as Russia grapples with the worst financial crisis of his 15-year rule.

"As for palace coups, calm down," Putin said during his annual end-of-the-year news conference in response to a question about whether he could lose the support of the elites and be ousted in a so-called palace coup.

"We don't have palaces therefore we cannot have a palace coup. We have the Kremlin official residence, it's well-protected, and this is also a factor of our state stability." Putin said the most important factor ensuring stability was support of ordinary Russians.

"On main directions of foreign and domestic policies such support exists," he said.

The country is grappling with a shock rouble collapse, with Russians rushing to exchange their savings and the authorities spending billions of dollars to prop up the beleaguered currency.