July 29, 2021

“What are you so afraid of?” the journalist asked Vladimir Putin

O Russian president this Wednesday used the Black Lives Matter protests and the attack on the Capitol in the United States to answer a question about his methods against political opposition in the aftermath of the summit in Geneva with his North counterpart. American, Joe Biden.

ABC News reporter Rachel Scott questioned the Russian leader about the persecution of his political opponents. “The list of your political opponents who are dead or imprisoned is long. And it prevents anyone who supports [Alexey Navalny] run for political office. My question is: what are you so afraid of, Mr. President?”.

Vladimir Putin described the organization founded by Navalny, whose name he never uttered, as “extremist” and said it called for “mass disorder” and breaking the law. Continuing the order of ideas, he referenced the Black Lives Matter protests and said there was “disorder” and “destruction” in the United States after the death of George Floyd, whose name also did not vocalize. Expressing “sympathy” for the United States, he said he did not want similar demonstrations in Russia.

The journalist insisted: “You didn’t answer my question, sir. If all your political opponents are dead, poisoned – doesn’t that send the message that you don’t want a fair political fight?”

Putin evoked the Jan. 6 insurrection at the US Congressional headquarters, equating insurgents held for looting — associated with far-right movements — and political opponents detained in Russia. “About who kills who or who puts who in prison, people went to the US Congress with political demands. They face sentences of up to 20 or 25 years in prison.”, he replied, stressing that they are called “domestic terrorists”.

At the press conference, Putin said that Navalny received the punishment due for violating the terms of his parole, adding that the opponent was aware that he would face a prison sentence when he returned to Russia. “He deliberately asked to be arrested. Knowing his situation, he ignored the law and did what he wanted”, he added.

Navalny, Putin’s most challenging political enemy, was arrested in January on his return from Germany, where he spent five months recovering from a nervous agent poisoning he blames on the Kremlin, a charge Russian authorities reject.

In February, Navalny was sentenced to two and a half years in prison for violating the terms of the suspended sentence of a 2014 embezzlement conviction that he denied and claimed was politically motivated.

Also Read: Biden warns that if Navalny dies the consequences will be “devastating”

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