Vladimir Putin Questioned on Cyberattacks, Alexei Navalny

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Following his meeting in Geneva with President Joe Biden, Russian leader Vladimir Putin faced a number of tough questions during his post-summit news conference.

CNN’s Matthew Chance began by asking about the tone of Putin’s conversation with Biden, but his questions for Putin quickly became a lot more pointed.

Did you commit to ceasing carrying out cyberattacks on the United States? Did you commit to stop threatening Ukraine security? Did you commit to stop cracking down on the opposition in Russia?

Putin began his response by saying the summit was “very constructive” and free of hostility. While he said that Russia and the U.S. “would begin consultations” on cyber security, Putin deflected from cyberattacks that have been traced to Russia in order to claim that America and its allies have committed more acts of cyber warfare than the Russians.

The American administration, I don’t want to actually say which body it is, but American sources say that the majority of cyber attacks in the world are, in fact, on the cyberspace in the U.S. And then the second place is Canada, and the third is the U.K. On that list of countries, the cyberspace which is most vulnerable is not ours.

Putin went on to insinuate that Russia takes cyber security more seriously than the United States. After briefly touching on the recent hacking of the Colonial Pipeline, Putin then spoke of how one of Russia’s health systems was attacked as well.

“I don’t think that the U.S. administration is particularly interested in organizing that or looking into it,” Putin said. “All they do is make insinuations. What we need is expert consultations between us. We agreed to that in principle.”

Putin was pressed again shortly after by ABC’s Rachel Scott, who noted that there is a “long” list of Putin’s critics over the years who have wound up dead or in prison. She specifically focused on Alexei Navalny, the noted Kremlin critic who has been persecuted by the Russian government and Putin recently insinuated he might not get out of prison alive.

“What are you so afraid of?” Scott asked.

Putin spoke of Navalny as a member of “unauthorized opposition” before claiming that Navalny’s political party “has an extremist character” to it. He also claimed Navalny’s party was encouraging mass demonstrations against law enforcement, which he compared to the social unrest America witnessed during Black Lives Matter rallies last year.

“We do not wish this kind of thing should happen on our territory and we will do our utmost to prevent it,” Putin said. “Fears — I don’t want to talk about that, that’s absolutely irrelevant.”

“You didn’t answer my question sir,” Scott followed up. “If all of your political opponents are dead, in prison or poisoned, doesn’t that send a message that you do not want a fair political fight?”

“Well, the question of who is murdering whom?” Putin responded. He then compared his suppression of political opposition to the rioters who were arrested for storming the U.S. Capitol earlier this year.

Watch above, via CNN.

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