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Putin Tells Press Conference: I'm Proud of My Mysterious Daughters

Russian President Vladimir Putin was set to face almost 1,400 journalists Thursday at his annual question-and-answer session.

MOSCOW — Vladimir Putin ducked a question about the identity of his daughters Thursday as he faced journalists at his annual televised news conference.

The Russian president refused to be drawn on the women, who were born in the 1980s in Germany when he was working for the KGB spy agency.

"My daughters live in Russia and studied only in Russia, I am proud of them," he said. "They speak three foreign languages fluently. I never discuss my family with anyone."

He added: "Every person has a right for their fate, they live their own life and do it with dignity."

The whereabouts and identities of the women have never been confirmed by the Kremlin.

Putin also addressed a slew of questions on foreign and domestic policy during the three-hour event, taking an angry swipe at Turkey over last month's downing of a Russian fighter jet. He hinted at further measures after Moscow advised citizens not to travel to the country, denting its tourism industry.

"I do not see any perspective to normalize relations with Turkey on a inter-governmental level," he said at his annual question and answer session. "We'll have to go for further sanctions."

He referred to the shooting down of a fighter jet as "a hostile act" and ridiculed Turkey for turning to the West for help, saying it had "run to Brussels."

"Couldn't they have just picked up a phone?" he asked, jokingly adding: "I don't know ... if the Turks decided to lick Americans in some places, I don't know..."

The remark earned applause from some of the 1,400 journalists at the annual event.

Putin also said he broadly supported Secretary of State John Kerry's Syria peace initiative, but said it must be up to the Syrian people to decide how to end the country's civil war.

"Only the Syrian people must decide, standards and rules," he said.

He said Russia and the U.S. agreed on the need to ensure work on a new constitution and create mechanisms of control over future elections.

He also said Russia would work with whoever follows Barack Obama into the White House, but added a dig at Washington.

"We are ready to work with any president, for whom the American people will vote," Putin said. told his 2It's them (the Americans) who try all the time to prompt us who to vote for."

He also dismissed a question about sports cheating, saying Russia would co-operate with any investigation into track and field doping.

Russia's successful bid to host of the 2018 soccer World Cup was "honest," he insisted, despite allegations of corruption at the sport's global governing body, FIFA. He even praised its controversial outgoing president, Sepp Blatter, saying the FIFA boss deserved a Nobel prize for his efforts.

Putin also faced questions on domestic issues including the Russian economy and parking charges.

He said the country was recovering from the worst of its economic crisis caused by the collapse of global oil prices, but admitted economic forecasts would have to be adjusted.

"We had calculated next year's budget based on $50 per barrel. This is a very optimistic valuation today. Now it's already $38. That's why we will have to correct something there," he said.