Russia demands apology after Fox News host calls Putin a ’killer’

Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Donald Trump

The Kremlin has reacted angrily after a Fox News host called Russian President Vladimir Putin a “killer” during an interview with US President Donald Trump.

In the weekend interview, Bill O’Reilly called the Russian leader a “killer”, and Mr Trump replied that the US has killers too.

Mr Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov refused to comment on Mr Trump’s reply, but lashed out at Fox News, calling Mr O’Reilly’s remarks “unacceptable and offensive”.

“We would like to receive an apology from the president from this respected organisation,” Mr Peskov told reporters, referring to Fox News.

A British judge concluded last year that two Russians, acting at the behest of Moscow’s security services, poisoned ex-KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko at a London hotel in 2006.

Mr Litvinenko died after drinking tea spiked with a fatal dose of radioactive polonium-210. The Kremlin angrily dismissed the inquiry as a “quasi-investigation”.

Mr Putin’s critics in Russia and abroad also held him politically responsible for the 2006 killing of investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya and the 2015 slaying of leading Kremlin critic Boris Nemtsov. The critics said the atmosphere of intolerance to dissent under his watch contributed to the two killings.

In 2014, a court in Moscow convicted the gunman and three other Chechens involved in Ms Politkovskaya’s killing along with a former Moscow policeman who was their accomplice. Investigators have failed to track down the mastermind.

Five suspects, all of them Chechens, went on trial in the autumn for their alleged roles in Mr Nemtsov’s murder. The suspected triggerman served as an officer in the security forces of the Moscow-backed Chechen regional leader, Ramzan Kadyrov.

Mr Trump has praised Mr Putin and signalled that US-Russia relations could be in for a makeover under his leadership.

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