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Putin issues chilling warning to West in bizarre rant over 'scum' traitors
17 March 2022, 08:45
Russian President Vladimir Putin has issued a warning to "scum" traitors, saying the West will try to use them as a "fifth column" to destroy the country.
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Speaking during a televised address, Mr Putin excoriated Russians who did not back his agenda, despite having expressed optimism over efforts to negotiate an end to fighting in Ukraine.
Russians "will always be able to distinguish true patriots from scum and traitors and will simply spit them out like a gnat that accidentally flew into their mouths," he said.
"I am convinced that such a natural and necessary self-purification of society will only strengthen our country."
It comes as Russia also condemned the US after President Joe Biden said Mr Putin was a "war criminal".
The Kremlin claimed it was an "unacceptable and unforgivable rhetoric".
He went on to accuse the West of using a "fifth column" of traitorous Russians to create civil unrest.
"And there is only one goal, I have already spoken about it - the destruction of Russia," he said.
Mr Putin added: "I do not judge those with villas in Miami or the French Riviera.
"Or who can't get by without oysters or foie gras or so-called 'gender freedoms'.
"The problem is they mentally exist there, and not here, with our people, with Russia."
The speech sparked concerns that Mr Putin's authoritarian rule, which has already grown tighter since the invasion in Ukraine began on February 24, could grow even more repressive.
Russian news outlets speaking out against Mr Putin's agenda have already been shut down, with protesters having also been arrested.