“I made it clear to them that I believe the consequences will be disastrous for Russia,” Biden said.
He continued, “What do you think happens when he’s saying it’s not about hurting Navalny, whatever he says to rationalize Navalny’s treatment, and then He dies in prison? It’s about faith. It’s about his ability to influence other nations in a positive way.”
Biden, who has pitched autocracy versus democracy as the central theme of the moment, suggested he raised human rights extensively with Putin during the Geneva summit.
“I also told him that no President of the United States could have faith with the American people if he did not speak up to defend democratic values, stand up for the universal and fundamental freedoms that all men and women deserve in our Thinking,” he said.
Biden also said he discussed “concerns” about Navalny in particular, and that he also took up the case of two imprisoned US citizens, Paul Whelan and Trevor Reid. Additionally, Biden said he stressed the importance of “a free press and freedom of expression” along with the ability to operate Radio Free Europe.
“We sympathize with what is happening in the states, but we do not want this to happen in Russia,” Putin said.
Putin said Navalny returned to Russia to be taken into custody, knowing he had broken the law, but refused to say out loud the name of the opposition activist.
“This man knew he was breaking Russian law. He has been convicted twice,” Putin said.
He reiterated the official Russian position that Navalny had violated bail conditions by going abroad last year by apparently fainting after Novichok poisoning, and failing to check with Russian legal authorities as required.
“They deliberately ignored the requirements of the law,” Putin said. “The gentleman went abroad for treatment. As soon as he went to the hospital he showed his videos on the internet. … He intentionally wanted to break the law. He did what he wanted to do. So kis ka kya hum (about him) Can you discuss?”
CNN’s Richard Green contributed to this report.