Russian President Vladimir Putin held a 15th annual phone-in session during which he spend more than four hours answering questions on various issues.
Inevitably, Putin touched the subject of former FBI Director James Comey and said that Russia is ready to grant him an asylum and that the former FBI director “should be aware of that.”
“[Comey] suddenly said he recorded a conversation with Trump, and then handed the tape over to the media, which is strange,” Putin said and remarked that it put Comey in a vulnerable position.
“What’s the difference between him and Mr [Edward] Snowden then? He’s a human rights activist then, not an intelligence chief,” Putin said.
“At any rate, if this entails some kind of prosecutions against him [Comey], we are ready to grant him asylum in Russia. He should be aware of that,” the Russian President added.
During his testimony in front of congressional commission, Comey said he was absolutely certain that Russia meddled in the US election. However, Putin said there is no proof of Russian interference.
“The first thing that attracted my attention was that the ex-FBI director said that he believes that there was Russian meddling in the electoral process [in the US], but at the same time provided no proof of that,” Putin said.
Putin then remarked that Russia has no influence over U.S. politics, but that America sponsors NGO’s worldwide with a goal to influence countries they work in. The Russian President concluded that Russia does not want America as an enemy, and said that: “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.”
Putin expressed hope that Moscow and Washington could work together to solve pressing international issues, such as the war in Syria, arms control, combatting poverty and climate change.
Asked whether he will stand for re-election in the next presidential election, Putin responded in cautious manner: “Certainly, one day I will make up my mind. I don’t see anything bad in sharing my preferences [about the future president of Russia]. But ultimately let’s not forget that only the voters, Russian citizens, can determine who will lead”.
The annual event called ‘Direct line with the President’ offers a chance to citizens to ask the Russian President direct questions.
Among other questions, Putin also spoke about his private life. In an interview with American film director Oliver Stone, Putin previously confirmed being a grandfather.