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Russia’s Putin Cancels Holiday Vacations for Kremlin Ministers

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Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting of the State Council and the Presidential Council for Culture and Art at the Kremlin in Moscow, on Dec. 24, 2014. (Credit: SERGEI ILNITSKY/AFP/Getty Images)

Vladimir Putin delivered a lump of coal in the Kremlin’s stocking this year when he announced Thursday that he has canceled holiday vacations for members of the government.

Russia’s President delivered the bad news at a December 25 meeting he convened of his government, but for those thinking that his timing was merely the diabolical twist of a maniacal scrooge, Christmas is celebrated in Russia on January 7, the traditional date in the Eastern Orthodox Church.

“The Government and its various structures cannot afford such extensive holidays, at least not this year,” Putin told government ministers in a speech broadcast on state television. “You know what I am talking about.”

He was talking about Russia’s battered economy.

“We have been making efforts to change the structure of our economy, to refine it and make it more innovative … quite a lot has been done in this direction,” he said. “However, recent events show that this is not enough.”

It was a change in tone from just a week ago, when Putin largely blamed the West for Russia’s woes, even suggesting a U.S.-Saudi conspiracy theory to bring down oil prices at his annual press conference.

At Thursday’s meeting, however, the President admitted at least some fault. “The difficulties we have come across are not only of an external type. They are not only due to some sanctions or limitations caused by the global market situation — they are also the result of our own shortcomings that have piled up over the years.”

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