Putin rejects charges of Russian meddling in UK politics, praises Johnson

President Vladimir Putin on Thursday rejected allegations of Russian interference in British politics and praised Prime Minister Boris Johnson for better understanding the mood of British society on Brexit than his political rivals.

Relations between London and Moscow remain strained over everything from the 2018 poisoning in England of a former Russian spy and his daughter to Syria and Ukraine.

Putin, fielding questions from reporters at his annual news conference, was asked about an unpublished British parliamentary report into allegations Russia had attempted to interfere in British politics, something the Kremlin has repeatedly denied.

"As regards (Russian) interference or non-interference, we've heard many times from official governing bodies in various countries, including Britain, assessments of what is happening inside Russia. Is that interference?" said Putin.

"We reserve the right to behave in the same way towards you. If you think that is interference, then keep thinking that. But it has nothing at all to do with interference."

Reminded by a BBC reporter that Johnson had once compared him to Dobby the House Elf from the Harry Potter films, Putin said he didn't care.

"I know what my country's interests are. And whatever anyone has said about me has no importance when compared to the fundamental tasks that Russia is interested in solving," he said.

Citing unnamed British business people and investors whom he said Russia regarded as friends, Putin said he believed London was interested in forging stronger economic ties with Moscow.

"We value this and are doing everything to support them so that they feel like they are at home here," he said.

And despite being reminded of Johnson's elf joke about him, Putin had warm words for the British politician.

"As regards what's happening now, it's possible to congratulate Johnson. He turned out to be the victor after all (in this month's British election) and better grasped the mood in British society than his opponents," said Putin.

"And as I understand it, he intends to go through with all of his Brexit plans."

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson and opposition Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn walk through the Members' Lobby in the House of Commons during the State Opening of Parliament by Queen Elizabeth II, at the Palace of Westminster in London.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and opposition Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn walk through the Members' Lobby in the House of Commons during the State Opening of Parliament by Queen Elizabeth II, at the Palace of Westminster in London.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and opposition Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn walk through the Members' Lobby in the House of Commons during the State Opening of Parliament by Queen Elizabeth II, at the Palace of Westminster in London.
Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, and Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, arrive for the State Opening of Parliament by Queen Elizabeth II, in the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster in London.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and opposition Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn walk through the Members' Lobby in the House of Commons during the State Opening of Parliament by Queen Elizabeth II, at the Palace of Westminster in London.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and opposition Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn walk through the Members' Lobby in the House of Commons during the State Opening of Parliament by Queen Elizabeth II, at the Palace of Westminster in London.
Queen Elizabeth, accompanied by Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, speaks with unidentified members of the procession after the Queen's Speech at the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster in London.
Queen Elizabeth II, accompanied by the Prince of Wales, proceed through the Royal Gallery before delivering the Queen's Speech during the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster in London.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock walks with other Members of Parliament walks through the Members' Lobby in the House of Commons during the State Opening of Parliament by Queen Elizabeth II, at the Palace of Westminster in London.
Former prime minister Theresa May walks through the Members' Lobby in the House of Commons during the State Opening of Parliament by Queen Elizabeth II, at the Palace of Westminster in London.
Queen Elizabeth II, accompanied by the Prince of Wales, proceed through the Royal Gallery before delivering the Queen's Speech during the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster in London.
Queen Elizabeth II proceeds through the Royal Gallery before delivering the Queen's Speech during the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster in London.
The Imperial State Crown is carried through the Sovereign's entrance for the State Opening of Parliament by Queen Elizabeth II, in the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster in London. PA Photo. Picture date: Thursday December 19, 2019. See PA story POLITICS Speech. Photo credit should read: Victoria Jones/PA Wire
Yeoman Warders in the Sovereign's entrance ahead of the State Opening of Parliament by Queen Elizabeth II, in the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster in London. PA Photo. Picture date: Thursday December 19, 2019. See PA story POLITICS Speech. Photo credit should read: Victoria Jones/PA Wire
Queen Elizabeth II alongside the Prince of Wales, delivers the Queen's speech during the State Opening of Parliament by Queen Elizabeth II, in the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster in London.
Queen Elizabeth II alongside the Prince of Wales, delivers the Queen's speech during the State Opening of Parliament by Queen Elizabeth II, in the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster in London.
Queen Elizabeth II, accompanied by the Prince of Wales, proceed through the Royal Gallery before delivering the Queen's Speech during the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster in London.
Queen Elizabeth II with the Prince of Wales arriving for the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster in London. PA Photo. Picture date: Thursday December 19, 2019. See PA story POLITICS Speech. Photo credit should read: Chris J Ratcliffe/PA Wire
Members of the House of Lords and guests in the chamber ahead of the State Opening of Parliament by Queen Elizabeth II, in the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster in London.
Queen Elizabeth II arriving for the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster in London. PA Photo. Picture date: Thursday December 19, 2019. See PA story POLITICS Speech. Photo credit should read: Chris J Ratcliffe/PA Wire
Members of the House of Lords and guests in the chamber following the State Opening of Parliament by Queen Elizabeth II, in the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster in London.
Queen Elizabeth II arrives at the Sovereign's entrance for the State Opening of Parliament, in the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster in London.
Queen Elizabeth II, the Prince of Wales and members and guests sit in the chamber during the State Opening of Parliament by the Queen, in the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster in London.
Queen Elizabeth II travels to the Palace of Westminster, London, ahead of the State Opening of Parliament.
Members of the Blues and Royals stand in the Norman Porch ahead of the State Opening of Parliament by Queen Elizabeth II, in the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster in London.
Yeoman warders parade through the Sovereign's entrance ahead of the State Opening of Parliament by Queen Elizabeth II, in the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster in London.
Gentlemen at Arms relax and prepare for the arrival of the Queen at the Norman Porch ahead of the State Opening of Parliament by Queen Elizabeth II, in the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster in London.
Yeomen of the Guard during the ceremonial search of the Palace of Westminster in London, ahead of the State Opening of Parliament by Queen Elizabeth II, in the House of Lords.
Members of the House of Lords take their seats in the chamber for the State Opening of Parliament by Queen Elizabeth II, in the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster in London.
Yeoman warders take part in the traditional "ceremonial search" ceremony ahead of the State Opening of Parliament by Queen Elizabeth II, in the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster in London.
Queen's Guards walking down The Mall towards Buckingham Palace ahead of the State Opening of Parliament by Queen Elizabeth II, in the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster in London.
Military personnel in ceremonial dress arrive at the Houses of Parliament, Westmister, London, ahead of the State Opening of Parliament. PA Photo. Picture date: Thursday December 19, 2019. See PA story POLITICS Speech. Photo credit should read: Chris J Ratcliffe/PA Wire
Karren Brady in the chamber ahead of the State Opening of Parliament by Queen Elizabeth II, in the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster in London.
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