MOSCOW (AFP) – Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday accused the West of using jailed opposition figure Alexei Navalny to try to “contain” Russia.
“Our opponents or our potential opponents… have always relied on – and used – ambitious, power-hungry people,” Putin said in an interview with Russian media conducted last Wednesday but only broadcast yesterday by public channel Rossiya 24.
Putin suggested that the wave of protests recently held across Russia in the wake of Navalny’s arrest and imprisonment had also been fed from abroad, against the backdrop of the widespread “exhaustion, frustration and dissatisfaction” arising from the coronavirus pandemic.
He said that Russia’s “numerous successes” on a military level, but also in its management of the COVID-19 crisis and the development of the Sputnik V vaccine, were “starting to irritate” Moscow’s opponents.
“The stronger we become, the stronger this containment policy,” Putin said.
Navalny, a persistent thorn in Putin’s side, was arrested on his return from Germany, where he had been recovering from a poisoning he claims was carried out by the Kremlin and the Russian security services Federal Security Service (FSB).