A prominent Russian state TV broadcaster on Wednesday compared the alleged assassination attempt on Russian President Vladimir Putin to the 9/11 attacks on New York City, according to a journalist who investigates Russian propaganda.
Vladimir Solovyov, one of the most well-known figures in Kremlin-backed media, made the comparison on his show that airs on Russia-1. He and other pundits on the program were discussing what the Kremlin said was an overnight drone strike orchestrated by Ukraine in an attempt to kill Putin.
Russia reported that air defenses took down the two drones targeting its president, and the Kremlin later said the United States had a hand in planning the incident. However, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has denied his country was behind the alleged attack, and U.S. National Security spokesman John Kirby called claims that the U.S. was involved “ludicrous.”
Julia Davis, the creator of the Russian Media Monitor and a columnist at The Daily Beast, said Solovyov referenced the September 11, 2001, attacks by Al-Qaeda terrorists on the World Trade Center that claimed the lives of 2,977 victims.
On his TV program, Solovyov showed a doctored image of President Joe Biden and Zelensky walking in front of a burning Kremlin. He called the two leaders the “organizers” of the drone attack, Davis wrote for The Daily Beast.
The Russian host then showed a clip of U.S. State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel discussing Ukraine’s drone operations in which he said the U.S. would not comment on specific maneuvers. Patel added that Russia was “aggressively invading” and “trying to erase the borders of another” nation before saying Russia would eventually be held “accountable.”
Davis described Solovyov as going “ballistic” in response to the clip of Patel.
“I don’t know whom you’re able to hold accountable, fat pig, but what I know for certain is that you just justified 9/11, the destruction of the Twin Towers,” Solovyov said, according to Davis. “We know the truth! It’s very simple: Ukrainian Nazis have attempted to assassinate the Supreme Commander of our country, which has nuclear potential.”
Newsweek reached out to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs via email for comment.
Solovyov then brought up a Telegram post by Dmitry Medvedev, the former president of Russia and current deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council.
In his post, Medvedev wrote, “After today’s terrorist attack, there are no options left other than the physical elimination of Zelensky and his clique.”
Solovyov and his guests “wholeheartedly concurred” with Medvedev’s call for Zelensky’s assassination, according to Davis.
The U.S. State Department has said Solovyov spreads disinformation from the Kremlin and wrote on its website last year in a list identifying well-known figures involved in Russian propaganda that Solovyov “may be the most energetic Kremlin propagandist around today.”
In recent weeks, Solovyov has made such statements as saying Russia should unleash a nuclear attack on any country that would attempt to detain Putin over the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court in March for alleged war crimes. He also has advocated multiple times for Moscow to make use of its nuclear capabilities against the countries that back Ukraine.