Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is to meet President Biden at a summit Wednesday, has suggested that the hundreds of people arrested for rioting at the US Capitol are being subjected to “persecution for political opinions," per the AP. The context: Putin is likely to come under strong criticism from Biden at their meeting in Geneva for moves against his political opponents in Russia, particularly the imprisonment of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, the detention of thousands of demonstrators protesting his arrest, and the outlawing of Navalny’s organizations as extremist. “You are presenting it as dissent and intolerance toward dissent in Russia," Putin said in an interview with NBC News. "We view it completely differently." He then pointed to the Jan. 6 unrest in Washington.
“Do you know that 450 individuals were arrested after entering the Congress?" he said. "They came there with political demands."
- Putin also reiterated denials that the Kremlin was behind last year's poisoning of Navalny. “We don't have this kind of habit, of assassinating anybody,” Putin said. “Did you order the assassination of the woman who walked into the Congress and who was shot and killed by a policeman?” Putin said, referring to Trump supporter Ashli Babbitt.
- And he dismissed allegations that Russia is carrying out cyberattacks against the US. “Where is the evidence? Where is proof? It’s becoming farcical,” Putin said. “We have been accused of all kinds of things—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.”
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