Verhofstadt accuses Putin of trying to 'SILENCE' him as he wades into Russia democracy row

Posted on Feb 28 2018 - 4:17pm by admin

The European Parliament’s Brexit spokesman launched a stinging attack on Putin just hours before he attends an event called “Perspectives for EU-Russia relations” in Brussels tomorrow morning.

“Putin is afraid of @Navalny [Presidential opponent] & has barred him from running in election. Putin also put me on his black list. In Russia they try to silence us but tomorrow @ 10h30 u can see Navalny and myself live on the state of #Russiandemocracy & a new #EURussia strategy.”

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny wanted to challenge Putin for the presidency this year but was barred from running by Russia’s Electoral Commission in December 2017.

He and his supporters have become victims of attacks at several points during the campaign, and arrests have been made.

Verhofstadt also tweeted this morning to demonstrate his solidarity with pro-democracy advocates in Russia.

He wrote: “Three years ago Boris Nemtsov was shot dead on a Moscow bridge overlooking the Kremlin. Many Russians still fight for a democratic & prosperous Russia. Tomorrow we will discuss how to support them with an ALDE Blueprint for a new EU Strategy towards Russia.”

Verhofstadt is only the latest to criticise Putin for his perceived indifference or hostility to democracy – Putin has led Russia since 2012 and in that time has been alleged to have interfered in other countries’ elections too.

Most notably, Russian hacking has been a big issue in the US, where many commentators allege that Putin attempted to influence voters to support Donald Trump in 2016.

Prominent Democrat politicians and supporters of Hillary Clinton’s unsuccessful bid for the White House have alleged that Russian bots were disseminating false information on Twitter in order to amplify messages that would aid the Republican campaign.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson also joked that Russia may have (unsuccessfully) tried to influence the Brexit vote in the UK two years ago during a recent trip to Russia.

“Things aren’t easy between us”, the Foreign Secretary confessed.

In their mutual scepticism of Russia’s relationship with democracy, there appears rare common ground between Brussels’ Brexit-bashing Guy Verhofstadt and the Vote Leave frontman Boris Johnson.

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