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In his marathon year-end information convention, Russian President Vladimir Putin projected confidence and defiance on a spread of points — and vehemently denied authorities involvement within the latest poisoning of Russian opposition chief Alexei Navalny.
On Thursday, Putin appeared in the course of the newest iteration of a Q-and-A that frequently tops 4 hours, which he has led for almost 20 years working.
The Kremlin is broadly suspected of getting orchestrated the poisoning of Navalny, who has lengthy been a thorn within the aspect of a authorities that doesn’t usually tolerate dissent.
Navalny fell critically in poor health throughout a flight from Siberia to Moscow in August. He was flown to Germany for medical remedy and spent greater than two weeks in a medically induced coma. Since his restoration, he has maintained that this was an assassination try perpetrated by a Russian intelligence group, with private approval from Putin.
Western leaders, together with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, have stated the poisoning was carried out with a variant of Novichok, a Soviet-era nerve agent that has been detected within the programs of different Russian critics who’ve been attacked overseas. Earlier this week, a report launched by the analysis group Bellingcat discovered that Kremlin brokers had tailed the 44-year-old opposition determine for years earlier than the assault.
However Putin glibly brushed apart the report throughout his information convention Thursday, calling it merely a “legalization of U.S. spy companies’ materials.”
With out offering proof, the Russian president blamed the U.S. for claims that the Kremlin was behind the assault on Navalny, whom he referred to solely because the “Berlin affected person.” And he stated Russian brokers definitely ought to have adopted the opposition determine, whom he accused of hyperlinks with American intelligence.
“However that completely doesn’t imply he must be poisoned,” Putin added. “Who wants him? If any individual had wished to poison him, they might have completed him off.”
Natalia Kolesnikova/AFP through Getty Pictures
In a press release posted to Fb after Putin’s response, Navalny asserted that the Russian president’s reply represented a “partial however crucial” confession of guilt. “The proof is so robust that it’s inconceivable to argue with it,” Navalny stated. “And even simply mendacity as normal is inconceivable.”
Thursday’s information convention, unfolding within the shadow of a pandemic that has claimed almost 50,000 lives in Russia, was an uncommon affair. Putin broadcast from his desk at a state residence close to Moscow, whereas questions have been piped in remotely from journalists gathered in different areas all through the nation.
Nonetheless, Putin’s tune remained largely the identical as normal on a spread of subjects.
Once more, he denied Kremlin interference in U.S. elections, saying that the suggestion that Russia had performed a misinformation marketing campaign to assist President Trump’s candidacy was merely “a provocation” and nothing extra.
For essentially the most half, although, Putin skilled his concentrate on home issues, taking no questions from international correspondents till greater than midway via this system. He vowed to personally take a COVID-19 vaccine, when obtainable, and he additionally stated he has but to resolve about one other run for president when his present time period — his fourth, in whole — ends in 2024.
Earlier this yr, the 68-year-old president spearheaded a collection of constitutional adjustments that cleared the best way for him to run for 2 extra six-year phrases as president — which, if he pursues them and wins, would hold him in energy till at the very least 2036.