Russian President Vladimir Putin Weighs In On Trump's Impeachment

Dec 19, 2019
Originally published on December 19, 2019 7:48 pm
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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Russian President Vladimir Putin is sounding a lot like the Republican defenders of President Trump. At his annual press conference in Moscow today, Putin said Trump was impeached on far-fetched grounds. Later in the day, while Putin was attending a concert to honor Russia's security forces, there was a gun attack on a federal security building in Moscow. State television said two people died in the incident. NPR's Lucian Kim reports on a remarkable day in Moscow.

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LUCIAN KIM, BYLINE: The year-end ritual of Putin's annual press conference always follows an established routine. Reporters from far-flung regions ask questions that sound more like cries for help to lower airplane fares, stop monster garbage dumps and fix the country's ailing health care system. Foreign policy - Putin's favorite subject - is not what worries most Russians, though, of course, there was the obligatory question about relations with America following Trump's impeachment.

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PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN: (Speaking Russian).

KIM: Putin said Democrats are still fighting the 2016 election results. And after failing to prove collusion with Russia, they dreamt up Trump's pressure campaign on Ukraine.

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PUTIN: (Speaking Russian).

KIM: Congress passed new sanctions against Russia this week, which Putin said would definitely strain U.S.-Russian relations even more. He said Russia and the U.S. have common security interests.

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PUTIN: (Speaking Russian).

KIM: And he said he wants to extend the last remaining arms control treaty between Russia and the U.S. but has had no response from the Trump administration.

Russia is also facing worsening relations with Germany after a former Chechen rebel commander was murdered in a Berlin park in August.

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PUTIN: (Speaking Russian).

KIM: He calls the murdered rebel a bloodthirsty terrorist who German authorities allowed to walk freely on the streets of Berlin.

Terrorism was a recurring theme in the 4 1/2-hour press conference. Asked about the toughest moments of his 20 years in power, Putin named the terrorist attacks on a school in southern Russia and on a Moscow theater. Now, he said, Russia is on the path to stability.

But just hours later, as Putin attended a concert in the Kremlin to celebrate Russia's security forces, there was a shooting less than a mile away at the headquarters of the FSB, Russia's federal security service. State media said a lone gunman had killed one FSB officer and wounded five people before being killed himself.

Lucian Kim, NPR News, Moscow.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.