Vladmir Putin says if Russia had wanted to kill opposition leader Navalny, it would have ‘finished’ the job

Navalny was poisoned with the Novichok toxin in August and nearly died. After initial treatment in Omsk, Siberia, he was taken to a clinic in Berlin. The Kremlin has repeatedly denied any involvement in his poisoning.

“Listen, we know very well what this is … this is a legalization, not an investigation but the legalization of US special services equipment,” Putin said Thursday.

“What, we don’t know if they track the location? Our special services know this very well, the FSB officers and officers from other agencies know. They use their phones where they see fit not to hide their location. way – and it is – it means that this patient at the Berlin clinic has the support of US special services in this, ”said Putin.

‘And if that is correct, then that is of course interesting [our] special services have to keep an eye on him. But that doesn’t mean he should be poisoned, who actually needs him? If [they] they probably would have finished it, ”Putin added.

“But in this case his wife asked me, and I immediately ordered him to be released from the country to be treated in Germany … This is a ploy to attack the leaders. [in Russia]. “

In CNN’s report released Monday, experts in toxicology said it can take up to 12 hours for Novichok to affect the nervous system, depending on the dosage and how it’s administered. Aside from injecting just the right dose into someone, it is nearly impossible for the culprit to dose Novichok to knock out rather than kill.

Putin described reports about Navalny – to whom he never referred to by name – as “implanted stories.”

“There is really nothing surprising about these implanted stories taking place. They have always been there and always will be,” he said.

Putin’s comments came a day after Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said reports on the details surrounding the poisoning of opposition figure Alexey Navalny are “amusing to read,” in clear reference to the CNN-Bellingcat investigation.

Putin held the marathon press conference from his Novo-Ogaryovo residence in the Moscow region. A select group of socially detached journalists from the state media, who had to be quarantined before attending, were in the room with him. Other journalists and citizens asked questions via video connection from Moscow and elsewhere.

Putin has denied interference in the US elections

Putin also addressed the issue of Russia’s troubled relations with the United States, saying he hoped some of the issues would be resolved under the incoming administration of new President Joe Biden.

“We assume that the President-elect of the United States will understand what’s going on – he’s an accomplished man in both domestic and foreign policy,” Putin said.

Putin, Bolsonaro and AMLO finally congratulate Biden on the US election victory.
Putin congratulated Biden this week on his election victory, six weeks after the vote and after the electoral college officially confirmed Biden’s victory.

Asked why the Russian hackers did not “help get Trump elected” in the 2020 presidential election, Putin pitched the question – of famed musician turned journalist Sergey Shnurov – as a provocation and again denied any interference in the US election.

“Russian hackers helped the still-acting US president not get elected and did not interfere in the internal affairs of this great country,” Putin said. “This is just speculation. It is a pretext for damaging US-Russia relations; it is a pretext for not recognizing the legitimacy of the continuing US head of state for internal political reasons.”

The U.S. intelligence community has concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election to aid then-candidate Trump. That conclusion was supported in a two-part report from the United States Senate Committee earlier this year.

Trump repeatedly dismissed claims that Russia was trying to help him win in 2016 as a ‘hoax’.

Shnurov, of television station RTVI, also half-jokingly asked Putin if Russia would be willing to back Trump after leaving office and giving him a job or asylum in Russia, as awarded to the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Christopher Krebs: We have prepared for more Russian interference.  But this year the attack on democracy came from the US.

Russia became a haven, granting passports in highly publicized ceremonies to several Western celebrities, including actors Gerard Depardieu and Steven Seagal.

“Trump doesn’t have to look for a job [in Russia]. Almost 50% of the population voted for him if we include the popular vote and not the electoral college, “Putin said.”[Trump] has quite a lot of support in the United States, and as far as I understand he will not leave the political life of his country. “

Putin then accused US intelligence agencies of meddling in Russia’s internal affairs by “planting” stories about the financial activities of his family and allies, without providing any evidence.

“They are the State Department and the US security forces, they are the real authors. Anyway, this was clearly done on their orders. This is absolutely clear,” Putin said. He added that “the goal is to take revenge and try to influence public opinion in our country.”

Putin, who has been in power for two decades, said he had not yet decided whether to become president again in 2024, when his current term ends.

A constitutional change passed by Russian lawmakers earlier this year and passed in a national referendum could give him the option to remain in power until 2036.

Putin urges mass vaccination

Earlier at the press conference, Putin – who is 68 – confirmed that he has not been vaccinated with a Russian coronavirus vaccine, Sputnik V, as it has yet to be recommended for people over 60.

With the rollout of vaccines comes an onslaught of disinformation

“The vaccines circulating in the general population today are aimed at people of a certain age group, and the vaccines have not yet reached people like me,” Putin said.

“I am a law-abiding citizen on that matter, I listen to our specialists’ recommendations and have not adopted it so far. But I will do it as soon as it becomes an opportunity.”

Russia registered Sputnik V in August ahead of the main large-scale Phase 3 studies needed to establish the vaccine’s efficacy and safety, sparking skepticism in Russia and internationally alike. According to the product description, the vaccine is recommended for use in people 18 to 60 years old and not for people with a number of chronic illnesses and health conditions.

“I think it is necessary [have mass vaccination]Specialists around the world say mass vaccination is one of the few ways to overcome this pandemic, it should create immunity for the population, ”said Putin. And I repeat that our vaccine is effective and safe, so I see no reason not to. vaccinate. “

Phase 3 trials are currently underway, but the country is already moving towards mass vaccination. The Russian Direct Investment Fund, which sponsored the development of the vaccine, said more than 200,000 Russians had been vaccinated by December 14.

At the press conference, Putin also discussed the manufacturing challenges facing Russia, saying the country does not have enough “hardware” to produce the required amount of the vaccine so far and is working to increase the number of suitable production sites. .

CNN’s Mary Ilyushina reported from Moscow and Laura Smith-Spark wrote from London.