Russian President Vladimir Putin has offered fired FBI chief James Comey “political asylum” during his annual question and answer call-in session on state television on Thursday.
“What makes the FBI director different from Mr. Snowden then? It seems to me that in that case he’s not so much the head of the FBI as an activist who has a particular point of view.”
“By the way, if he faces some sort of prosecution in this regard, we are ready to give him political asylum as well. He should know that,” he said sarcastically during the televised event.
Comey testified last week that he orchestrated the leak of accounts of conversations with US President Donald Trump because he thought it might lead to the appointment of a special prosecutor to lead the Russia investigation into alleged meddling in the 2016 Presidential election.
Putin’s marathon call-in – where he fielded questions from people across Russia – comes days after nationwide anti-corruption demonstrations, in which 1,400 people were arrested.
Here’s three other things we learned from the televised program:
1. He got personal
It’s rare for the Russian leader to speak publicly about his family and few details are known, but during the event, Putin claimed his children and grandchildren have a “perfectly normal, ordinary life.”
He revealed that his grandchildren are now attending kindergarten.
“I really don’t want them to live like hereditary princes. I want them to have a perfectly ordinary childhood and they are part of the collective in the kindergarten,” he said.
Putin said that his second grandchild was born recently, adding that he keeps them out of the spotlight so that they can have a normal upbringing.
“…they won’t be left alone if they’re identified as the grandchildren of the President,” he said.
The fact that Putin is a grandfather was only revealed a few days ago in a new Oliver Stone documentary.
2. He thinks sanctions are enacted ‘to hold Russia back’
“This, of course, shows the continuous internal political battle but nevertheless this is happening, and I think there is no ground for this. If there was no Crimea, no other problems, they would come up with something else to suppress Russia. This is how this policy was always presented – to hold Russia back,” he said.
3. Not everyone agreed with him
During the live broadcast, Russian state television also displayed text messages featuring responses – some of them negative – to the President’s comments.
Critical messages included: “Putin, do you really think people believe in this circus with set-up questions?” and “Three terms is enough.”
Putin returned as the country’s president in 2012 for his third non consecutive term. Before that he was prime minister to Dmitry Medvedev from 2008 and previously served two terms as president in 2000 and 2004.
CNN’s Deborah Bloom also contributed to this report from Atlanta.