Putin says Russian businessmen being persecuted in countries like Britain

Russia 'not trying to split EU', says Putin

Putin did not have much to say on the specific allegations that a Russian missile was responsible for the downing of the plane, except to cast doubt on the worldwide investigation and say that Ukraine shot down a passenger plane by mistake in 2001.

Russian President Vladimir Putin visits Austria today, his last friend among the western European EU states, for talks with Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and President Alexander Van der Bellen. "Complete nonsense", Putin remarked, noting that such a statement can only be regarded as a joke.

"They will be sitting by the television with bated breath... with a phone in one hand and a sedative in their pocket", the Komsomolskaya Pravda tabloid joked.

Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found unconscious in March on a bench at a shopping center in Salisbury. British investigators determined that the two had been poisoned with Novichok, a nerve agent developed by the Russians during the cold war.

On Thursday, Putin doubled down on this argument. "What, did they 'annex Crimea, ' as many of our partners say?"

One asked why opposition leader Alexei Navalny had not been allowed to register as a candidate in the presidential election, another why there was money for the military but not ordinary people, and another asked whether Russian Federation was a banana republic.

Putin also touched on the subject of the World Cup, saying that stadiums built for the event could not be allowed to turn into "markets" as sports facilities did in the turbulent 1990s.

"Everyone's is already thinking about creating new universal currencies or about switching to transactions using national currencies", Putin said, adding that the US' policy is "counterproductive" and tantamount to shooting oneself in the foot.

"I hope there won't be any provocations, but if it happens, I think it would have very serious consequences for Ukrainian statehood in general", he said.

Russian Federation will host the FIFA World Cup beginning on June 14. US and Russian officials haven't discussed specifics yet.

Putin said Russia's offer to develop joint railway and gas pipeline projects involving both Koreas would help stability in the region.

Lacking a Russian passport, Barakat said she can not bring into the country her husband and three children, who are still living in Syria and whom she has not seen in two years.

Kurz noted at the same time that Vienna will "obviously maintain the decisions of the European Union, including the sanctions" when it takes over the six-month European Union rotating presidency on 1 July.

He also said that the Syrian campaign had allowed Russian Federation "to adapt [advanced weaponry] to the needs of the battlefield".

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