Putin offers Comey 'political asylum' during annual call-in show

Putin said that Comey's release of records of his conversations with President Donald Trump equated to being an activist, like former USA intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, who lives in Russian Federation under asylum.

Putin, on an apparent sarcastic note, added that if Comey "continues to be persecuted in this connection, we will be ready to provide political asylum to him", according to various news outlets.

Putin, speaking in a live call-in show with the Russian nation, likened Comey to NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who has been living in Russia since being granted asylum in 2013. 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".

The offer, made with Putin's trademark sardonic humour, came as the Russian president poured scorn on Comey for his role in a row in Washington over alleged Russian meddling in last year's United States presidential election.

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When asked about increased Western sanctions in response to Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 United States elections and the country's intervention in Ukraine, Putin described them as "unexpected". "We have our opinion, we say it openly, but it's not some kind of underground sabotage activity", Putin said.

"I am still working", Mr Putin said during his annual question-and-answer session with Russian citizens on Thursday, in response to a question as to whom he would leave as his successor.

Putin argued that Russian Federation has done nothing to warrant the Senate's move, saying it highlights the West's policy of containing Russian Federation and also reflects domestic infighting in the United States.

He said if anybody actually influenced the 2016 election, it was former FBI Director James Comey, who announced that the investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email was dropped and then reopened just weeks before the election.

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"The United States is not our enemy", Putin said, but he complained of Russian Federation facing sanctions "throughout all of our history" from global partners who fear a "serious competitor".

The US Senate voted to approve further sanctions against Russian Federation over alleged election meddling on Wednesday. "The Russian Empire was key in securing US independence". The Kremlin strongman said the USA is afraid of what he described as "serious competitor".

"If I mention ages and names, they would be identified and never left alone".

Putin added "we'll hope that the guys play with full commitment, like real warriors and athletes, to at least please the fans with their effort to win". He fled to Russian Federation in 2013 after revealing thousands of classified documents to the press.

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