WASHINGTON – Russian President Vladimir Putin stated he couldn’t guarantee opposition chief Alexei Navalny would go away prison alive and denied ordering an assassination try on the anti-corruption crusader.
Putin’s remarks, made in an interview with NBC News that aired in half on Monday, mark a contemporary provocation from the Russian autocrat as he prepares to sit down with U.S. President Joe Biden for a high-stakes summit this week.
The two leaders will meet June 16 in Geneva, Switzerland, amid escalating tensions over the Kremlin’s cyberattacks and election interference in the U.S. and Putin’s efforts to stifle dissent inside Russia.
Navalny, an activist and one among Putin’s fiercest critics, returned to Russia from Germany in January after recovering from poisoning with a nerve agent. He was detained shortly after his arrival in Moscow and sentenced to two years and eight months in prison for violating the phrases of his probation whereas he was handled overseas.
Navalny initially went on a starvation strike, and his allies say he got here shut to demise earlier than ending his strike on the recommendation of docs.
Asked if he may guarantee Navanly would go away prison alive, Putin claimed he had no say over the matter.
“Look, such decisions in this country are not made by the president,” Putin stated.
Pressed on Navalny’s standing, Putin stated: “He will not be treated any worse than anybody else.”
Navalny’s case is probably going to be one among many flashpoints between Biden and Putin throughout Wednesday’s assembly.
The U.S. intelligence group has determined with “high confidence” that Russia’s Federal Security Service used the nerve agent Novichok to poison Navalny final August. The Biden administration imposed sanctions on Russia in the wake of that discovering.
Putin has denied any involvement in the assault on Navalny, a place he repeated to NBC.
“We don’t have this kind of habit of assassinating anybody,” Putin stated when pressed on Navalny’s poisoning.
The Russian chief additionally flatly denied that Moscow was behind the latest SolarWinds cyberattack or that the Kremlin interfered in the 2020 presidential election. The Biden administration has sanctioned Russia over each of these issues.
“We have been accused of all kinds of things,” Putin advised NBC. “Election interference, cyberattacks and so on and so forth. And not once, not once, not one time, did they bother to produce any kind of evidence or proof. Just unfounded accusations.”
Putin stated the U.S.-Russia relationship has “deteriorated to what is the lowest point in recent years,” however stated he and Biden would have the ability to work collectively on problems with “mutual interest,” equivalent to arms management.
He shrugged off questions on Biden’s affirmative reply, throughout an interview earlier this 12 months, when he was requested if Putin was a “killer.”
Putin stated he works with folks he disagrees with on a regular basis. “People with whom I work … we argue,” the Russia chief stated. “We are not bride and groom. We don’t swear everlasting love and friendship.”
He did, nevertheless, supply heat phrases for former President Donald Trump, who tried to domesticate shut ties with Putin whilst his advisers pressed for a troublesome strategy to Russia.
“Mr. Trump is an extraordinary individual, talented individual. Otherwise he would not have become U.S. president,” Putin stated.