Vladimir Putin refuses to guarantee that Navalny will survive prison | Russia
Vladimir Putin refused to guarantee that opposition leader Alexei Navalny would be released alive from prison, saying his continued detention was not his decision and noting the poor state of medical care in Russian prisons.
In a prolonged and harrowing interview with NBC News ahead of Putin’s Geneva summit with Joe Biden, the Russian president hijacked a series of allegations about his government’s role in cyberattacks against the West. He also pushed back questions about his government’s human rights record by making counter-allegations against the United States.
Navalny was poisoned with the Russian-made nerve agent novichok, then jailed for more than two years. He faces new lawsuits, suggesting the Kremlin is ready to extend his prison term. His political movement was banned last week as part of a wider crackdown on opposition groups.
When asked if he could guarantee that Navalny would be released alive, Putin replied, “Look, such decisions in this country are not made by the president. It is the court that decides whether or not to release someone.
“As far as health is concerned, all the people who are in prison, this is something for which the administration of the prison or the specific penitentiary establishment is responsible. And there are some medical facilities in the penitentiaries that may not be in the best condition. And they are the ones for whom it is the responsibility.
Putin maintained his long-standing avoidance of pronouncing Navalny’s name, referring to him as “that person.” He said he hoped the prison medical service would do their job “properly”, but added: “To be honest, I haven’t visited such places for a long time.”
When asked to respond to Putin’s remarks Monday night, Biden told reporters: “Navalny’s death would be another indication that Russia has little or no intention of respecting basic human rights.”
Asked about the suppression of opposition groups, Putin said they were banned as “foreign agents”, the routine designation of dissidents in Russia, and that “tougher” laws were in place in the United States. United for decades. It was an apparent reference to the Foreign Agents Registration Act (Fara) of 1938, which requires lobbyists to register with the Treasury if they are doing paid work for a foreign government, person or entity. It is not used to prosecute opposition activists.
As for the poisoning of Navalny and the assassination of other opposition figures and dissidents, Putin said, “We don’t have that kind of habit of murdering anyone.
Trying to turn the tide on his American interviewer, he went on to describe the shooting of Ashli Babbitt, one of the rioters who stormed the Capitol on January 6, as an assassination.
“Did you order the assassination of the woman who entered Congress and was shot dead by a police officer? Putin said. Babbitt was shot and killed by a police officer as she walked through a door leading to the President’s lobby, which had been smashed by rioters who stormed the building.
More than 500 people have been indicted for their role in the January insurgency, which aimed to overturn the presidential election result two months earlier and retain Donald Trump as president.
Putin sought to present them as political prisoners. “They came to Congress with political demands. Isn’t this persecution for political opinions? He asked.
Interviewer Keir Simmons said Putin used “whataboutism” to avoid answering human rights questions.
“You asked me a question,” replied the Russian president. “You don’t like my answer, so you cut me off.” This is inappropriate.
“We have a saying, ‘Don’t be mad at the mirror if you’re ugly,’” Putin continued. “It has nothing to do with you personally. But if someone blames us for something, what I’m saying is: why don’t you look at yourself? You will see yourself in the mirror, not us. There is nothing unusual about it.
Putin has said he is ready to discuss a prisoner swap with Biden, swapping Americans held in Russia for Russians in US jails.
In particular, Putin mentioned Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot arrested in May 2010 in Liberia on charges of conspiracy to smuggle drugs, and turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration, which took him to the United States for trial. The Russian government claimed that Yaroshenko had been kidnapped.
Biden will raise the cases of two Americans imprisoned in Russia – former US Navy Trevor Reed and Paul Whelan, a Michigan business executive.
Reed is serving a nine-year sentence for beating a Russian policeman, a charge described as “fragile” by the US ambassador to Moscow. Putin, without proof, denounced Reed as a “troublemaker” and a “drunkard”.
Whelan, also an ex-Marine, was arrested at his hotel on New Years Eve in 2018 while dressing for a friend’s wedding. He was found guilty of espionage after a short trial, conducted entirely behind closed doors, and sentenced to 16 years in prison. No evidence against him has been made public and US officials believe he was arrested as a negotiating agent for a possible prisoner swap.
Whelan’s family released an audio tape of the prisoner on Monday calling on Biden to secure his release when he meets with Putin, and “put an end to this appalling case of hostage diplomacy.”
“I remain innocent. No espionage crime was committed, ”Whelan said in the recording. “The secret trial, without evidence, proves these facts. The kidnapping of an American tourist cannot stand. Congress, American citizens and supporters around the world echo my call for immediate and decisive action. “