MOSCOW (AP) The Latest on the Russian president’s annual news conference (all times local): 3:35 p.m. President Vladimir Putin says that he would welcome political competition but insists that the opposition must offer a positive program. Answering a question from Ksenia Sobchak, who wants to challenge him in the March 18 presidential election, Putin said Thursday that he doesn’t fear the opposition. Sobchak’s asked about opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who has declared his intention to run but is barred from entering the campaign by an embezzlement conviction he claims is politically motivated. Without mentioning his name, Putin likened Navalny to former Georgian president turned Ukrainian opposition leader Mikheil Saakashvili, who has challenged the Ukrainian government with a series of protests. Putin said that his government wouldn’t let ”dozens of people like Saakashvili” plunge Russia into instability like that in Ukraine. — 3:30 p.m. President Vladimir Putin has brushed off a question from a well-known Russian radio journalist who was stabbed in the throat by an attacker at the station’s studios. The October assault on Tatyana Felgenhauer, deputy editor-in-chief at Ekho Moskvy, Russia’s only independent news radio station, has shocked the journalistic community and raised fears of vigilante attacks inspired by… Read full this story
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