Vladimir Putin Won’t Say if Alexei Navalny Will Live

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Vladimir Putin declined to guarantee that his jailed political rival, Alexei Navalny, will get out of prison alive.

In a just-released segment of his interview with NBC’s Keir Simmons, which was taped last week, Putin was questioned about the Russian government’s crackdown on Navalny and other political opponents. When asked if dissent has been outlawed in Russia, Putin shot down the premise of the question, saying “you are presenting it as dissent and intolerance towards dissent in Russia. We view it completely differently.”

Simmons then asked Putin if he could personally ensure that Navalny would leave prison alive after his 32 month sentence. Putin’s answer: “I proceed from the premise that the person that you have mentioned, the same kind of measures will apply, not in any way worse to anybody else who happens to be in prison.”

“His name is Alexei Navalny,” Simmons interjected as he seemingly urged Putin to say Navalny’s name.

“I don’t care,” Putin responded. “I don’t care.”

Putin went on by denying that Navalny was targeted for assassination, simultaneously deflecting with his claim that the American rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol were being politically persecuted.

In their coverage of the interview, NBC News notes that Navalny’s imprisonment and Russia’s suppression of dissent follows the government’s system of branding opponents as “extremists” and using the court system to imprison them under false charges. Navalny’s case has gained worldwide recognition between the Kremlin’s assassination attempts and reports of his declining health in prison.

Navalny is likely to be a topic of conversation when Putin meets President Joe Biden later this week during their summit in Geneva. While Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has tamped down expectations about Putin and Biden discussing Navalny, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki has insisted that Navalny will come up, and so will the imprisonment of American citizens Trevor Reed and Paul Whelan.

Watch above, via NBC.

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