US involved in Gaddafi killing, says Putin


Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Thursday accused the US special forces of being involved in the killing of deposed Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.“Who did this?” Putin said in his annual televised phone-in with Russians. “Drones, including American ones. They attacked his column. Then using the radio – through the special forces, who should not have been there – they brought in the so-called opposition and fighters, and killed him without court or investigation.”
Russia had initially allowed NATO’s air campaign in Libya to go ahead by abstaining in a UN Security Council vote. But it then vehemently criticised the campaign which Putin at one stage compared to a “crusade”. His comments mark the first time that Russia has implicated the US administration in Gaddafi death.
‘ludicrous’ to accuse:
Meanwhile, Washington said Thursday it was “ludicrous” to accuse it of a role in the killing of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi after Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said US special forces were involved.“The assertion that US special operations forces were involved in the killing of Colonel Gaddafi is ludicrous,” US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta’s spokesman, Captain John Kirby, said. “The killing of Gaddafi has been very well documented publicly – the circumstances surrounding it and whom in fact was responsible for it,” he said in Baghdad where he was accompanying the Pentagon chief for a flag-lowering ceremony marking the end of the war in Iraq. “We did not have American boots on the ground in the Libya operation. All our support was done through the air and on the seas,” added Kirby.
Putin on Thursday said the results of Russia’s parliamentary elections reflected popular opinion but said he was pleased by the sight of mass protests of mainly young people. “I saw on television mostly young, active people clearly expressing their positions. I am pleased to see this,” Putin said in his first reaction to the mass post-election protests.
In the first questions in his annual phone-in session with Russians, Putin tackled head-on the issue of the protests that followed December 4 parliamentary elections and shook his 12-year domination of Russia. “The fact that people are expressing their point of view about the processes occurring in the country, in the economy, in the social sphere, in politics, is an absolutely normal thing, as long as people continue acting within the law. “I expect them to continue doing so,” he added.
The ruling party United Russia won the parliamentary elections but with less than half the vote, a result the opposition said would have been even worse in free polls. “In my opinion, the result of these elections unquestionably reflects the real political make-up of the country,” said Putin. “The fact that United Russia retained its leading position is a very good outcome,” he added. “As for the fairness or unfairness: the opposition will always say the elections were not fair. Always. This happens everywhere, in all countries.” But in an apparent bid to calm the claims of fraud, Putin ordered the installation of web cameras in every Russian polling station.
“I ask the central election commission to install web cameras in all 90,000 polling stations in the country and put the footage on the Internet so the whole country can see,” he said. But Putin also took the opportunity to mock the protesters, saying he thought white ribbons worn as a symbol of their demonstrations against his rule were contraceptives in an anti-AIDS campaign.
“I decided that it was an anti-AIDS campaign… that they pinned on contraceptives, I beg your pardon, only folding them in a strange way,” Putin said. He also alleged that some of the participants were hired to protest against the government.