In a Friday morning news media kick-off to the upcoming Winter Olympics, Russian President Vladimir Putin sat in front of a semi-circle of invited reporters in Sochi, Russia. Playing the role of tough, bothersome Anglo-American journalists were ABC's George Stephanopolous and the BBC's Andrew Marr, who peppered the Russian leader with questions about corruption and Russia's notorious laws restricting so-called gay "propaganda."

Of course, not all of the questions, or questioners, were quite so difficult. The two representatives of the Russian media offered up deferential softballs. When it comes to deference, though, few reporters anywhere — and not just in Sochi — can compete with Shui Junyi, the reporter assigned to cover Putin for China's state-owned CCTV network.

"You are very popular in China," Shui said in preface to his first question, as translated by Russia Today, a Russian government-funded media organization. "Before my coming here I said to our Internet users at Central TV that I was going to Russia to interview you. And as soon as I published this message two million users put an 'I like it' mark next to it and sent many questions."