Putin jokes about offering Comey asylum

Russian President Vladimir Putin asked Thursday during his yearly live call-in show, saying that he would offer political asylum to fired Federal Bureau of Investigation head James Comey in the same way Russia has sheltered former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

"This sounds odd when a secret service chief records his conversation with the commander-in-chief to hand the record to the media", Putin said. Then he is not the head of a special service, he is a human rights activist defending a certain stance.

Snowden, a former contractor for the CIA, was given asylum by Russian Federation for leaking classified information from the National Security Agency to journalists.

Snowden has lived in Russian Federation since 2013, after being provided asylum.

"By the way, if he (Comey) is subject to any sort of persecution in connection with this, we will be ready to give him political asylum in Russian Federation".

The Russian president also said the latest United States sanctions over alleged election meddling were efforts to "contain Russia".

In the 15th episode of his annual call-in show, Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin accused America of meddling overseas.

"I do not know the details of Comey's testimony but some things are clear to me", Putin said, referring to the ex-FBI director's address to the U.S. Senate in which he spoke of awkward encounters with Trump. He highlighted Russia's grant of asylum to Snowden, who the Kremlin maintains is being persecuted for political purposes. The Kremlin strongman said the U.S. is afraid of what he described as "serious competitor".

He added that Moscow and Washington could cooperate to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and pool efforts to tackle the North Korean nuclear and missile problem. Mr Putin said that legal protest was part of democracy, but suggested that the anti-corruption campaigner behind them - who he didn't name - was only motivated by self-promotion.

Russian President Vladimir Putin holds the 15th annual "Direct Line" Q&A session in Moscow.

Putin batted away any suggestions that Russian Federation interfered in the U.S. election, citing a lack of evidence.

But low world oil prices and Western sanctions imposed over the conflict in Ukraine have hit Russian Federation hard, reducing the amount of money Mr Putin can throw at domestic problems.

Prior to the end of the show, a presenter asked Putin a question sent by a viewer, of what he thinks could be people's feelings about the circus with staged questions.

"We have been through two wars together", Putin said.

  • Leroy Wright