Russian President Vladimir Putin in a rare interview with United States media indicated that he cannot guarantee that opposition leader Alexei Navalny will leave prison alive.
Asked if he could commit to “personally ensure” that Navalny will leave prison alive, Putin said that the decision was not up to him.
“Look, such decisions in this country are not made by the president. They’re made by the court whether or not to set somebody free,” Putin told NBC News in a television interview aired on June 14.
“As far as the health, all individuals who are in prison, that is something that the administration of the specific prison or penitentiary establishment is responsible for. And there are medical facilities in penitentiaries that are perhaps not in the best condition. And they are the ones whose responsibility it is,” Putin further said.
Putin also denied ordering the attempted assassination on Navalny, who was poisoned in August 2020 with the Russian-made nerve agent novichok and had to receive months-long treatment in Germany.
“We don’t have this kind of habit, of assassinating anybody,” Putin said.
Putin also avoided mentioning Navalny by name, using “that person” instead.
“His name can be anything,” Putin said, adding that Navalny was just one of the many citizens found guilty by a court.
The interview comes ahead of Putin’s meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden in Geneva.
In response to Putin’s remarks, Biden told reporters, “Navalny’s death would be another indication that Russia has little or no intention of abiding by fundamental human rights.”
White House has said that Biden will confront Putin on a wide range of issues, including a string of cyberattacks that the U.S. blamed on Russian hackers, during their summit on June 16.
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