Russian President Vladimir Putin, foreground, arrives for his annual televised call-in show in Moscow on Thursday, June 15, 2017. (Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

The Latest: Putin: ex-FBI director Comey media leak 'weird'

June 15, 2017 - 7:37 am

MOSCOW (AP) — The Latest on Russian President Vladimir Putin's live call-in show (all times local):

President Vladimir Putin says former FBI Director James Comey's acknowledgement that he has given his account of conversations with President Donald Trump to a friend who leaked them to the media is "weird" and ironically offered him asylum in Russia.

Speaking Thursday in live call-in show, Putin compared Comey's move to that of NSA contractor Edward Snowden, adding on a sarcastic note that Russia could grant Comey political asylum.

Snowden has been living in Russia since 2013 when it gave him asylum, resisting U.S. pressure to extradite him.

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2:20 p.m.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has voiced support for a planned handover of St. Isaac's Cathedral in St. Petersburg, which became a focal point of protest there with thousands residents rallying against the plan.

The cathedral, a UNESCO-protected site, was taken over by the state during Soviet times and run as a museum. After the 1991 Soviet collapse it continued in that role, although it occasionally held religious services as well. In the largest protest there in years, thousands of St. Petersburg residents have been rallying against the plans to hand over St. Isaac's to the Russian Orthodox Church, fearing for the safety of the museum's artifacts and seeing the plan as a symbol of the church's increasing role in Russian society.

Asked about the planned handover during a live call-in show on Thursday, Putin said the original idea to set up a museum in St. Isaac's was "an insult to religious sentiment" and that the church has the right to claim it. He offered assurances, however, that a compromise will be found to accommodate the museum's needs.

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1:25 p.m.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has been secretive about his family life in the past, says he has two grandchildren whose privacy he wants to respect.

Putin, who in 2013 announced on state television that he was divorcing his wife, has two daughters in their early 30s who have not been seen in public for years and became a subject of rumors. One of Putin's daughters was reported to be in charge of a lucrative project to build a Silicon Valley-like community under the auspices of Moscow State University.

Speaking during a live call-in show on Thursday, Putin said both of his daughters live in Moscow and "work in science and education." He said one of his grandchildren goes to pre-school and the other, a boy, has just been born. He said he would not want to give details about his family for fear of hurting their privacy.

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12:35 p.m.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says that the U.S. Senate move to tighten sanctions against Moscow is part of efforts to contain Russia.

The Republican-led Senate voted Wednesday to punish Moscow for interfering in the 2016 election by approving a wide-ranging sanctions package that targets key sectors of Russia's economy and individuals who carried out cyberattacks.

Putin, speaking Thursday during a live call-in show televised nationwide, deplored the Senate's move but added that the Western sanctions against Moscow also have hurt the West itself.

He said that the sanctions have given Russia an incentive to shed its dependence on oil and gas exports and "switch on our brains and talents" to develop other industries.

Putin noted that electronics, aerospace industries and agriculture have all received a boost.

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12:25 p.m.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says that Russia's economy has overcome a recession.

Putin said during Thursday's live call-in show televised nationwide that the "crisis is over," pointing at an economic growth over the past nine months. He also pointed at low inflation and rising hard currency reserves.

The Russian economy had plunged into recession under the impact of a drop in global oil prices and Western sanctions imposed on Moscow over its annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and support for pro-Russia insurgents in eastern Ukraine.

Putin acknowledged that the Russian economy hasn't yet shed its dependence on exports of raw materials, but noted that non-energy exports have been growing.

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