Russia’s president has joked he could offer asylum to former FBI chief James Comey if he runs into trouble for leaking recorded conversations with the US president to the press. Vladimir Putin compared Mr Comey to US whistleblower Edward Snowden, who now lives in Russia.
“If he’s persecuted… we’re ready to give him political asylum,” he said.
Putin also denied claims Russia had interfered in the US elections, citing an absence of evidence. Overall though, foreign policy took a back seat to domestic issues in this year’s Direct Line show – Mr Putin’s annual marathon phone-in.
For almost four hours, the Russian president fielded calls from across the country. He offered sympathy to dozens of people complaining of miserable salaries, poor medical care and bad roads, and doled out reprimands and orders to regional leaders.
It is a well-practised format meant to showcase Vladimir Putin the Benevolent.