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Russian President Vladimir Putin has used crude language in a furious new attack on Turkey over the shooting down of a Russian combat jet last month.

"The Turks", he said, had "decided to lick the Americans in a certain place".

He was giving his wide-ranging annual news conference.

Touching on next year's US presidential election, the Russian leader called Donald Trump a "very colourful, talented person" and the "absolute frontrunner in the presidential race".

Mr Putin is now into his third term as president since 2000, battling an economic crisis. Critics say civil liberties have been steadily eroded under his rule.

He remains one of the world's most recognisable politicians, and has topped the list of The World's Most Powerful People compiled by Forbes magazine for the third year running.

On other issues raised at the news conference, President Putin

  • Praised Sepp Blatter and suggested the suspended head of Fifa should be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize
  • Said Russia was against doping as it "destroyed the principle of competitive sport", and anyone found guilty should be punished
  • Denied Russian regular troops were deployed in rebel-held eastern Ukraine but said there could be "people there who were carrying out certain tasks including in the military sphere"
  • Brushed aside media reports about one of his daughters, saying both lived in Russia and were "not involved in politics or business"
  • Predicted economic growth in Russia the new year of 0.7%, rising to 1.9% in 2017 and 2.4% in 2018, based on oil at $50 a barrel

Russia deployed its air force to Syria in September in support of President Bashar al-Assad and has been carrying out air strikes on his opponents.

Its intervention has been heavily criticised by Turkey, the US and Gulf Arab states.

Mr Putin said the downing of the Russian jet by Turkish warplanes on the Syria-Turkey border was a "hostile act" but Russia was "not the country" to run away.


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