Russian President Vladimir Putin says Russia is ready to grant James Comey asylum, and that the former FBI director “should be aware of that.” He went on to question the difference between Comey and former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. (Russia Today Reported)
“In this case, he (Comey) is not the head of a special service but a human rights activist who defends a certain position,” Putin said.
“By the way, if he is subject to any sort of persecution in connection with this, we will be ready to give him political asylum in Russia. And he should know about this.”
Striking a more serious note, Putin said Comey, in his congressional testimony, had produced no proof that Russia had meddled in the U.S. election.
“I am not familiar in detail with the testimony given by former FBI director Comey,” Putin said. “Again, he gave no evidence of this (Russian interference).”
“And what about constant U.S. propaganda, constant U.S. support of America-oriented non-governmental organizations by giving them money directly? Isn’t it an impact on our minds? Isn’t it an attempt to influence how we should behave during election campaigns? This continues year after year,” he said.
Putin said many heads of state around the world had told him of similar U.S. meddling in their internal affairs. But they would not voice their concerns openly, fearing they would “spoil relations” with Washington, he said.
As for Russia, “we have an opinion of our own, we express it openly. But this is not any sort of underground, subversive activity”, Putin said.
‘Russians don’t view America as an enemy’
Putin went on to state that Russia does not see the US as an enemy, as the two countries were allies in World War II.
He also reiterated his view that the anti-Russian sentiment in the US comes from internal political strife in America.
“The Russophobia currently evolving in the United States – we can see it and we believe that this is the outcome of a spiraling domestic struggle for power.”
The president said Russia has “many friends” in the US, although “media hysteria” has taken its toll on bilateral relations. Overall, Moscow believes US-Russia relations will return to normal.
Putin also said Moscow is determined to re-engage with Washington on several pressing international issues, including nuclear non-proliferation, arms control, combatting poverty and climate change. He stressed political bickering between the world powers will not help in this regard.
He mentioned the 2015 landmark Iran nuclear deal as “a positive example of our cooperation” with Washington.
“This means we can negotiate and work together. The Syrian issue, the Middle East issue – it’s obvious to everyone that nothing will be achieved without our constructive dialogue,” Putin said.