- The Washington Times - Friday, May 23, 2014

If President Obama wants to make accusations against Russia, he should go get a job as a courtroom lawyer, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday.

Speaking at a St. Petersburg economic conference hosted by CNBC, the Russian leader had choice words for Mr. Obama and said the U.S. is in no position to judge Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

Mr. Putin denied that Moscow is fomenting unrest and violence in Ukraine, which is set to hold crucial nationwide elections on Sunday. Claims to the contrary, Mr. Putin said, aren’t valid.

“Who is he to judge? Who is he to judge, seriously?” the Russian president said, according to an interpreter. “If he wants to judge people, why doesn’t he get a job in court somewhere?”

Mr. Putin’s remarks were met with laughter among the St. Petersburg crowd. The Russian leader’s popularity has increased as the crisis in Ukraine has unfolded.

“It’s his point of view. And I have my point of view when it comes to certain things,” Mr. Putin continued.

Moscow has denied it’s responsible for the pro-Russian activists who have taken control of government buildings and stoked violence in eastern Ukraine. Mr. Putin also has expressed support for Ukrainian elections on Sunday and said Russia will respect the results of those contests.

Earlier in the week, Vice President Joseph R. Biden promised more economic sanctions against Russia if it interferes in Ukrainian elections.

In advance of those elections, Mr. Putin announced that Russian troops would be withdrawing from the Ukrainian border, but the White House and international organizations say there’s no proof that has taken place.

Mr. Putin also said that Russia doesn’t desire isolation, and suggested there’s simply a personal disconnect between himself and the American president.

“You can’t force people to like you, as we say in Russia,” he said.

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