Russian President Vladimir Putin held a longer than expected press conference after meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden this afternoon. During the press conference, things got a bit tense when ABC News Congressional Correspondent Rachel Scott pressed Putin on his treatment of domestic political opponents. In the past, Putin has been accused of threatening and physically harming those who oppose his political positions.
“President Biden has said he will respond if cyberattacks from Russia do not stop. I’m curious, what did he tell you? Did he make any threats? And a quick follow-up if I may, sir," she started.
"The list of your political opponents who are dead, imprisoned or jailed is long. Alexey Navalny’s organization calls for free and fair elections, an end to corruption, but Russia has outlawed that organization, calling it extremist. And you now have prevented anyone who supports him to run for office. For my question for you Mr. President: What are you so afraid of?”
Initially, Putin appeared to be annoyed by the question. He claimed that he had answered the question previously and was not looking forward to repeating himself.
“I have already spoken to your colleagues. Now I have to repeat that to you," he answered.
The Russian President went on to say that he was annoyed that the United States Government had not shown the same level of warmth to the Russian Government that it has to individual organizations within Russia. Putin later accused the U.S. of treating his administration as the "enemy."
“They have publicly declared that they will try to ‘contain’ Russia,” he continued.
“My question is, which organizations? Which political organizations in the U.S. are going be supported by the U.S., especially if they pay them.”
From there, he tried to compare arresting his political opponents to American police officers arresting Black Lives Matter protesters. As he puts it, protest demonstrations of that nature would not happen in Russia due to police
“America just recently had very severe events, well-known events, after the killing of an African American. And the entire movement developed known as Black Lives Matter. I’m not going to comment on that, but here’s what I do want to say: What we saw was disorder, destruction, violations of the law, etc.,” Putin said.
“We feel sympathy for the United States of America but we don’t want that to happen on our territory. We’re doing our utmost in order to not allow it to happen."
As he appeared to be finish talking, Scott pressed him again on the matter. The congressional correspondent pointed out that he had not fully answered her original question.
“You didn’t answer my question, sir. If all of your political opponents are dead or in prison, poisoned, doesn’t that send a message that you do not want a fair political fight?" Scott asked.
“On the question of who is murdering whom, people rioted and went into the Congress in the U.S. with political demands, and many people were declared as criminals and they are threatened with imprisonment for 20 to 25 years. These people were immediately arrested after those events. On what grounds we don’t know always. Others were just shot on the spot and unarmed as well," Putin answered.