Vladimir Putin has given a combative first television interview since his return to the Kremlin, rebuking Britain and the United States for double standards and denying involvement in the Pussy Riot trial.

In wide-ranging remarks, the president rejected accusations of autocratic rule and charged the West with hypocrisy over the war in Syria, the treatment of Julian Assange and a proposed travel ban for Russian human rights abusers.
His interview yesterday signalled a growing assurance in Mr Putin since he reclaimed the presidency in May, when street protests shook his rule and he cried with relief at a victory rally.
It came a day after he revived his practise of muscular publicity stunts, flying a motorised hang glider to guide a group of captive-reared Siberian cranes from the Arctic toward their southern migrating grounds.
Fielding softball questions from the Kremlin-controlled RT channel, Mr Putin was robust in denying any sign of backsliding on democracy.
He said that what critics perceived as a recent crackdown on Russia’s opposition was a prophylactic measure to prevent riots such as those seen in London last summer.
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