russia president
(Getty Images)
  • When asked by a reporter whether he's a killer, Russian President Vladimir Putin laughed.
  • US President Joe Biden has previously referred to Putin directly as a killer.
  • Many Kremlin dissenters have been killed and several others, including prominent critic Alexei Navalny, have been poisoned.
  • See more stories on Business Insider SA's home page.

Russian President Vladimir Putin laughed in an interview with a reporter who asked him whether he was a killer.

NBC News reporter Keir Simmons asked Putin about accusations that he had ordered the assassinations of dissenters. Alexei Navalny, for example, claims he was poisoned by the Kremlin, which has repeatedly denied any involvement in the incident. Putin once posited that Navalny had poisoned himself, an idea Navalny mocked.

Putin's opponents have routinely been poisoned. Novichok, the same nerve agent Navalny ingested, had previously been used to poison other Kremlin dissidents. Some of Putin's critics have been killed.

"When President Trump was told you are a killer, he didn't deny it. When President Biden was asked whether he believes you are a killer, he said, 'I do.' Mr. President, are you a killer?" Simmons asked Putin.

Putin laughed at the question.

"Over my tenure, I've gotten used to attacks from all kinds of angles and from all kinds of areas under all kinds of pretext and reasons and at different caliber and fierceness, and none of it surprises me," Putin said in response.

"I've heard dozens of such accusations," he said, sidestepping the question. "Sentiments in terms of who calls somebody what kind of labels - this is not something I worry about in the least."

Simmons then read off a list of Russian critics who had been killed and asked Putin whether they were all "coincidences."

"I don't want to come across as being rude, but this look like some kind of indigestion, except that it's verbal indigestion," Putin said, laughing again at Simmons' question. "You mentioned many individuals who did suffer and perished at different points in time for various reasons at the hands of different individuals."

One of the critics Simmons listed "worked in my administration," Putin said. "I liked him very much. I regret to this day that he is not with us."

"As far as the others," he continued, "we've found some of the criminals who committed those crimes. Some are in prison. And we're prepared to continue to work in this mode."

Former US President Donald Trump has previously brushed off allegations characterising Putin as a killer, and he's also stayed quiet on Navalny's claim that the Russian president poisoned him.

Current American President Joe Biden, meanwhile, has outright called Putin a killer.

Get the best of our site emailed to you every weekday.

Go to the Business Insider front page for more stories.