'Irritated' West using Navalny to 'contain' Russia: Putin
Iran Press TV
Sunday, 14 February 2021 11:08 AM
Russian President Vladimir Putin says Western powers are exploiting the case of detained opposition figure Alexei Navalny to "contain" Moscow.
Putin said that Russia's "opponents or our potential opponents... have always relied on â€” and used â€” ambitious, power-hungry people" like Navalny to undermine and contain the country.
He also said Russia's "numerous successes" on a military level as well as its management of the coronavirus pandemic and the development of the Sputnik V vaccine were "starting to irritate" Moscow's adversaries.
"We have had a lot of success, and it annoys them," the president said in an interview with the Russian media, that was broadcast on a public television on Sunday.
"That's where the containment policy, including in the economy, comes from," he said. "The stronger we become, the stronger this containment policy."
Earlier this month, a court in Moscow sentenced Navalny to three and a half years in prison for breaking the terms of a suspended sentence he had received seven years ago for an embezzlement case.
Russian police detained him upon arrival at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport from Germany last month, five months after he was transferred to a hospital in Berlin to be treated for what the West alleged had been a nerve agent attack by Russia.
Moscow has repeatedly rejected the allegations, saying the West is exploiting the case for political reasons and using it as a pretext to impose more sanctions against Russia.
His arrest prompted several rallies across the country, which Moscow denounced as unauthorized.
Putin also said in the interview that the wave of protests had also been fed from abroad, accusing the West of using the public frustration over a recession, due to the pandemic, to stir up unrest in the country.
Last week, Moscow expelled diplomats from three EU countries for their participation in unauthorized rallies in support of Navalny in the capital.
The move prompted similar responses from Poland, Germany, and Sweden, who also expelled Russian diplomats in retaliation.
The EU has repeatedly threatened to impose sanctions on Russia over the Navalny case.
In response to the threats, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov labelled Brussels as "an unreliable partner," saying the Kremlin was "getting used to the fact that the European Union is trying to impose unilateral restrictions, illegitimate restrictions."
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