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Putin Says Russia Could Have Killed Navalny Had It Wanted To

  • President denies attack on opposition leader, ties him to U.S.
  • In annual press conference, Russia leader takes confident tone
Vladimir Putin delivers his annual address in Moscow, on Dec. 17.
Vladimir Putin delivers his annual address in Moscow, on Dec. 17.Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg
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President Vladimir Putin dismissed reports linking Russia’s secret services to the near-fatal poisoning of opposition leader Alexey Navalny, saying if authorities had wanted to kill the politician they would have succeeded.

Accusing Navalny of ties to U.S. intelligence, Putin said Russian agents needed to monitor him. “But this doesn’t mean at all we needed to poison him. Who is he of use to? If we had wanted to, we would have finished the job,” he told his annual press conference on Thursday.