Putin Denies Corruption Charges, Downplays Tensions Over Snowden in Stephanopoulos Interview
Russian President and 2005 Super Bowl champion Vladimir Putin spoke to ABC’s George Stephanopoulos Sunday morning, affirming the safety of the Sochi Olympics after two recent terrorist attacks, downplaying the political tensions between himself and President Barack Obama, and arguing that Edward Snowden is free to attend the Olympics or do anything else he’d like
Putin said that security had been beefed up in advance of the Games, but promised that security measures “would not jump out at you.” He cautioned athletes who are allegedly devising their own evacuation plans to coordinate with Russian authorities.
“Between major countries, there certainly always are some common ground and points of tension,” Putin said of the variety of conflicts that have arisen between Russia and the United States over Iran, Syria, and more. “With respect to athletes, I’d recommend and advise them not to think about the political differences. Politics should not interfere with sports. And sports should influence politics.”
Putin corrected Stephanopoulos when the host called Snowden the “most famous American in Russia.”
“The most renowned American in Russia now is Barack Obama,” Putin said. “Everybody is invited [to Sochi]. Mr. Snowden is subject to the treatment of provisional asylum here in Russia. He has the right to travel freely across the country. He has no special limitations. He can just buy a ticket and come here.”
In answer to whether the Sochi games have involved rampant corruption, Putin deflected: “I do appreciate that it’s a reporter’s job to always get sexy subjects talked about,” he said, and similarly denied Stephanopoulos’ offer to make a bet with Obama over medal totals. “Barack is a huge sports fan and I can see it,” Putin said. “He’s in terrific shape and gives it enough of his attention. Not just to playing, but also to promoting sports.”
Issues of Russia’s highly-criticized anti-LGBT laws, which have provoked calls for a boycott of the Sochi Olympics, and Putin’s crackdown of the press, including last week’s expulsion of a veteran American journalist, were addressed in a later portion of the interview.
Watch the full clip below, via ABC News:
[Image via screengrab]
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