Putin accuses West of trying to destroy Russia
LONDON, April 25 (Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin on Monday accused the West of trying to destroy Russia, demanding prosecutors take a tough line with what he cast as plots hatched by foreign spies to divide the country and discredit its armed forces.
Speaking to Russia’s top prosecutors and watched by his defence minister, Putin accused the West of inciting Ukraine to plan attacks on Russian journalists – an allegation denied by Kyiv.
Putin said the main successor to the Soviet-era KGB, the Federal Security Service (FSB), had on Monday prevented a murder attempt by a “terrorist group” on Russian TV journalist Vladimir Solovyev.
“They have moved to terror – to preparing the murder of our journalists,” Putin said of the West.
Putin, a former KGB spy who has ruled Russia as paramount leader since the last day of 1999, did not immediately provide evidence to support his statements and Reuters was unable to immediately verify the accusations.
FSB chief Alexander Bortnikov said a group of six neo-nationalist Russian citizens had plotted to kill Solovyev – one of Russia’s most high-profile TV and radio journalists – at the behest of Ukraine’s State Security Service (SBU).
The SBU denied the allegations, which it said were fantasies cooked up by Moscow. “The SBU has no plans to assassinate V. Solovyev,” it said in a statement.
Solovyev, a host of talk shows whose guests often denigrate Ukraine and justify Moscow’s actions there, thanked the FSB.
Putin said the West had realised that Ukraine could not beat Russia in war so had moved to a different plan – the destruction of Russia itself.
“Another task has come to the fore: to split Russian society and destroy Russia from within,” Putin said. “It is not working.”
Putin said foreign media organisations and social media had been used by the West’s spies to confect provocations against Russia’s armed forces.
Prosecutors should react swiftly to fake news and reports that undermined order, Putin said, without giving any specific examples.
“They are often mainly organised from abroad, organised in different ways – either the information comes from there or the money,” Putin said. Prosecutors should fight extremism “more actively”, Putin said.
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