Putin: Capitol riot arrests show US cracks down on dissent
Russian President Vladimir Putin in a new interview pointed to arrests stemming from the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol as evidence that the U.S. cracks down on political dissent when challenged about the Kremlin’s actions.
Putin said the arrests of hundreds of suspects in the insurrection and the death of one rioter show that the U.S. targets its citizens for their political opinions.
“We have a saying: ‘Don’t be mad at the mirror if you are ugly,’” Putin told NBC News in an interview ahead of his in-person meeting with President Biden later this week.
“It has nothing to do with you personally. But if somebody blames us for something, what I say is, ‘Why don’t you look at yourselves? You will see yourselves in the mirror, not us.’”
He did not, however, note that the Capitol rioters have been charged with physical destruction and violence.
When asked if he ordered dissident Alexei Navalny, who survived a poisoning attempt, to be killed, Putin said: “We don’t have this kind of habit, of assassinating anybody.”
He also showed flashes of defiance, according to NBC News, when asked if it was a “coincidence” that a number of his political rivals had been assassinated in recent years.
When asked if he was a “killer” during the same interview, Putin laughed, then chalked up the claim as another attack throughout his tenure.
Putin also pushed back on allegations that his government was behind a string of recent cyberattacks in the U.S., calling the claims “farcical.”
“We have been accused of all kinds of things,” Putin said.
“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,” he added.
The FBI earlier this month identified a Russian-linked group, referred to as REvil or Sodinokibi, as the entity behind the cyberattack on meat producing group JBS USA. In January, a group of U.S. intelligence agencies formally accused Russia of being linked to the hack of IT group SolarWinds, sparking sanctions from Biden.
Putin, during the new interview, doubled down on his call for the U.S. and Russia to come together to fight cybercrime.
“It is our great hope that we will be able to set up this process with our U.S. partners,” he said.
The Russia president made a similar request in September, when former President Trump was in office, asking the two nations to reset cybersecurity relations and agree to not influence each other’s elections. Some in the U.S., however, dismissed his calls as disingenuous, according to NBC News.
Updated at 8:45 a.m.