Vladimir Putin jokes about giving political asylum to James Comey

Responding to a question by a BBC reporter about whether he saw Navalny as a political competitor, President Putin said, "When I heard you were from the BBC, I didn't doubt for a moment you would ask precisely that question because it's in a certain sense propaganda of the people whom you support".

The Russian president also weighed in on the scandal involving former FBI Director James Comey, saying that Russia would offer political asylum to Comey in the event that he was prosecuted in the United States.

Speaking Thursday in live call-in show, Putin compared Comey's move to that of NSA contractor Edward Snowden, adding on a sarcastic note that Russian Federation could grant Comey political asylum.

"This does sound and look odd: the director of a security service making records of his talks with the supreme commander and handing it over to the media through a friend of his". Comey's strategy worked after the US Department of Justice appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller special counsel to probe Russian meddling into the last year's US presidential election. In an interview with filmmaker Oliver Stone, which is being broadcast in episodes on the cable network Showtime, the Russian president appeared to offer a limited defense of the man that many US officials have accused of treason. "We have our opinion, we say it openly, but it's not some kind of underground sabotage activity", Putin said.

"The same thing happens in former Soviet states, in eastern Europe, in other countries, in Africa, in Latin America", Putin added. "Thank God for that at least", Putin said. It's clearly a sign of an escalating domestic political struggle.




When asked about increased Western sanctions in response to Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. elections and the country's intervention in Ukraine, Putin described them as "unexpected". "Those who violate the law must answer for these violations".

Putin, who in 2013 announced on state television that he was divorcing his wife, has two daughters in their early 30s who have not been seen in public for years and became a subject of rumors.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin attends the Roundtable Summit Phase One Sessions of Belt and Road Forum at the International Conference Center in Yanqi Lake on May 15, 2017 in Beijing, China. "There is a USA bill to toughen sanctions - why?" It shows that the recession in the Russian economy is over.

On the phone-in show, Putin said that one grandson was born recently, to applause in the studio, while another is "already in preschool".

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