Russian President Vladimir Putin deflected when pressed about human rights in the country, instead opting to bring up issues within the U.S., such as shootings and CIA prisons.
President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin met for a little over two and a half hours Wednesday in Geneva, Switzerland. It was their first meeting since Biden took office as president and Putin described it as “very constructive,” although any immediate results to come out of the talks are not yet clear.
Biden and Putin held separate press conferences after Wednesday’s meeting. During Putin’s press conference, a journalist asked him about the subject of human rights in Russia — a topic the White House noted would be on Biden’s agenda for the meeting. Putin immediately deflected the question and brought it back to incidents in America, slamming the country for daily “shootings and killings,” according to a translator.
“Look at the streets of America, every single day there are shootings and killings,” Putin said. “You don’t have time to open your mouth and you are shot dead. Or, you remember the man who shot the woman in the back, or who drove his car over her? And then there was that shooting at the wedding. Let’s say it was an error, because that happens too — but shooting helicopters of civilians in Iraq, what was that about? Who is responsible for that?”
“Who are the murderers there?” Putin continued to question. “And on human rights, listen to me: What about Guantanamo? It’s still working. It doesn’t come under any kind of law, international, American, nothing, but it still exists. CIA prisons, which were opened in lots of states, which you exercise torture, is that human rights? I don’t think that in many ways you could say that that protects the rights of men – human rights. We know in practice that, that happens and I think that we have — we, you know, we are beholden to take a corresponding attitude to it.”
Putin declared that “in principle,” everything happening in both Russia and America “is the responsibility of the leaders themselves,” adding that “some leaders are protecting the interests of those who pay them.” (RELATED: Biden, Putin Agree To Return Ambassadors During Summit)
Later on during the press conference, after being pressed on whether he doesn’t want “a fair political fight,” the Russian president circled back to issues within the U.S. He ignored comments about his political opponents winding up “dead, in prison or poisoned,” and instead brought up the Jan. 6 riot, where supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the capitol as lawmakers were voting to certify the election results for Biden.
“Well, the question of who is murdering whom?” Putin said. “People rioted and went into the Congress in the U.S. with political demands and many people were decried as criminals and they are threatened with imprisonment from [sic] 20 to 25 years. And these people were immediately arrested after those events.”
“On what grounds, we don’t know always. They didn’t actually inform us about that, and one of the participants were [sic] just shot on the spot, and unarmed as well,” the Russian president continued. He was referencing Trump supporter Ashli Babbitt, who was shot by a Capitol police officer and later died while trying to enter into the Speaker’s Lobby during the riot. “Many countries are going through exactly what we are going through. Let me just repeat: We sympathize with what was happening in the states, but we do not wish that to happen in Russia.”
When asked about imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, Putin brought up the slew of Black Lives Matters protests that occurred in America after the death of George Floyd in May 2020.
Putin called these “terrible events” and said while he doesn’t “want to make any judgment about” Floyd’s murder, Russia “saw mass violations of the law.”
“We sympathized with the Americans, but we do not wish this kind of thing should happen on our territory and we will do our utmost to prevent it,” he said before calling a question about him being fearful of his opposition “irrelevant.”