Russia's President Vladimir Putin speaks with journalists shortly… (Kirill Kudryavtsev / AFP/Getty…)
MOSCOW -- In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday called for closer cooperation between the United States and his nation in combating terrorism.
Answering questions during an almost five-hour annual call-in show broadcast live on Russian television, Putin started by rebuking the West for what he views as a double-standard in its approach to international terrorism.
“It always made me indignant when terrorists who committed atrocious -- bloody, ghoulish crimes on the territory of our country -- were called nothing but rebels by our Western partners and even your colleagues from Western mass media,” he said. “And almost never were they called terrorists."
The West "rendered them help, informational [and] financial political assistance, sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly, but [backing] was always offered for their activities on the territory of the Russian Federation,” he said.
Putin insisted the two countries should go beyond declarations "about our common threat -- terrorism" and “get down to business, cooperating closer to one another.”
The Boston attack “proved how correct our thesis is,” the Russian leader said. “Why [target] the United States? What harm did it do to them? It is absolutely not about nationality or faith. We said this a thousand times. The problem is the extremist aspirations of these people.”
Speaking of the two suspected assailants in the Boston bombings, Putin noted Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were allowed to stay in the United States and Dzhokhar was granted U.S. citizenship.
“I am simply calling for this tragedy to push us toward each other in averting common threats, one of the most important of which is terrorism,” Putin said. “If we really work to unite our efforts, we won’t miss these strikes and sustain such losses.”
A few questions later, however, Putin lashed out at the U.S., blaming it for the cooling in the relationship. He was especially adamant about a recent U.S. decision to impose visa restrictions and financial sanctions on Russian officials allegedly involved in the 2009 death of attorney Sergei Magnitsky, who died in custody after accusing tax officials and police officers of involvement in a multimillion-dollar scam.
Speaking in a metaphorical manner that plays well with Russian listeners, Putin accused the U.S. of “inflating the gills” to demonstrate how tough it can be.
“Both sides should display respect toward each other and seek mutual understanding,” he said.
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