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Putin Talks About Boston Bombings, Navalny, Berezovsky In Q&A Session

April 25, 2013
by RFE/RL's Russian Service

Russian President Vladimir Putin says he hopes the April 15 Boston Marathon bombings will bring Russia and the United States closer together in combating terrorism.

'I just urge that this tragedy push us closer together in stopping common threats, one of the most important and dangerous of which is terrorism,' he said. 'And if we really unite efforts we would stop such strikes and such losses.'

Putin made the remarks during a wide-ranging question-and-answer session broadcast on April 25 by the state media outlets that lasted four hours and 40 minutes.

U.S. and Russian authorities are investigating why deceased bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, an ethnic Chechen, visited Russia last year.

Putin accused the West of providing 'informational, financial, and political' support to militants in the North Caucasus that Russia considers terrorists.

'Russia itself has been a victim of international terrorism, one of the first such victims,' he said. 'And I have always been annoyed when our Western partners and your colleagues from the Western media called our terrorists -- who committed brutal, bloody, sickening crimes on the territory of our country -- called them insurgents and almost never called them terrorists,' Putin said.

However, Putin noted that relations with the United States have soured recently. He criticized the so-called U.S. Magnitsky list, which subjects Russian officials connected with human rights violations to targeted sanctions.

The measure was prompted by the 2009 death in custody of whistle-blowing lawyer Sergei Magnitsky. Putin said the Magnitsky list was unacceptable.

'Nobody has investigated what has really happened [in the Magnitsky case]. Why has this been done at all? Just to make a fuss about it? As if to say, 'We are the most powerful here.' For what?' Putin asked. 'This is such imperial behavior in the foreign-policy field. But who would like it? We warned that there would be a response.'

Putin also said he had received two letters from former oligarch Boris Berezovsky, who died in London last month. Putin said he did not respond to the first letter and that the second arrived after Berezovsky's death.

'He wrote that he thought he made a lot of mistakes, caused damage, and he asked for forgiveness and the chance to return to his homeland,' Putin said.

Regarding the trial of anticorruption blogger Aleksei Navalny, Putin said Russia does not have any political trials and that society would not allow a return to Stalinist policies.

Putin said he was sure the trial would be fair and added that 'those who fight corruption must by crystal clean themselves.'

Navalny is a fierce Putin critic accused of involvement in the theft of $510,000 worth of timber from a company in the Russian city of Kirov. He says the charges against him were fabricated at Putin's direction to push him out of politics.

One of the first questions from the regions came from a family in Primorsk that has 15 children, 12 of them adopted. One of the children asked Putin for a playground, which Putin promised to provide.

About an hour after that exchange, the moderator of the session announced that the governor of the region had already ordered construction to begin.

Putin also said that he is generally satisfied with the work of the government of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

'Some things have been done. Some things haven't been done. Am I satisfied with that? In general, I am satisfied,' Putin said. 'I think that the work is proceeding satisfactorily.'

Putin regularly conducted such highly stage-managed appearances both during his first two terms as president and when he was prime minister under Medvedev. In 2011, his appearance lasted more than 4 1/2 hours.

Source: annual-phone-in/24968071.html

Copyright (c) 2013. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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