Vladimir Putin is making a point to deny a new accusation from his chief critic, which in itself is seen as surprising. Both the Washington Post and Reuters note that it's rare for Putin to issue a public rebuttal, but this latest slam from Alexei Navalny might be receiving too much attention to ignore. In an investigative video that has now racked up more than 88 million views, Navalny accuses Putin of owning a billion-dollar Black Sea palace that was bought by shady associates with even shadier money. Not so, said Putin on Monday. "Nothing that is listed there as my property belongs to me or my close relatives, and never did," he said, per the BBC. The Russian leader said he didn't watch the full video because he's too busy, but saw compilations put together by staff. He called it "boring." One key line from the Post:
- "The comments neither deny the existence of the property itself nor contradict Navalny’s investigation, which alleged that the residence formally belongs to four proxies with ties to Putin’s inner circle."
Putin also addressed the protests that broke out across Russia over the weekend regarding the recent detention of Navalny. "Everyone has the right to express their point of view within the framework provided by the law," he said. "Anything outside the law is not just counterproductive, but dangerous." He said the 1917 Russian Revolution and the 1991 collapse of the USSR also were times "when the situation went far beyond the framework of the law and led to such destabilization of society and the state." More than 3,000 people were arrested over the weekend, drawing condemnation from the US State Department over what it called "harsh tactics." More protests are scheduled for this weekend. (Navalny released the video upon returning to Russia after recuperating abroad from a poisoning he blames on Putin.)