Former Exxon CEO and Secretary of State pick Rex Tillerson excused Putin’s murder of political opponents, Raw Story reports.
Senator Marco Rubio asked Tillerson during confirmation hearings if Putin was a war criminal.
“I would not use that term,” said Tillerson, who received the Kremlin’s Order of Friendship in 2013 .
Rubio then cited the suspicious murders of Putin’s opponents and alleged Russian war crimes in Syria.
“Do you believe that Vladimir Putin and his cronies are responsible for ordering the murder of countless dissidents?” Rubio asked.
Tillerson evaded that question. Rubio then asked if Tillerson knew that Putin’s enemies “wind up dead all over the world,” and whether that’s coincidental.
“Well, people who speak up for freedom in regimes that are oppressive are often at threat, and these things happen to them,” Tillerson said. “In terms of assigning specific responsibilities, I would have to have more information.”
Tillerson said he would need classified information on political murders, and Russian bombing campaigns in Syria.
“None of this is classified, Mr. Tillerson,” Rubio said. “These people are dead.”
Rubio brought up Putin’s early presidential actions against ChechnyaL
“They used scud missiles to hit hospitals, the city’s main outdoor market packed with shoppers — 137 people died instantly,” Rubio said. “They used thermobaric and fuel-air explosive bombs — these are the bombs that ignite, and they burn the air that (is) breathed in by people who are hiding in basements. They used cluster munitions. He used battlefield weapons against civilians, and when it was all said and done, an estimated 300,000 civilians were killed, and the city was completely destroyed.”
Rubio claimed Putin ordered this bombing campaign for political capital, instead of in response to bombings in Russia he blamed on Chechens:
“If you want to know the motivation, here’s what it is,” Rubio said. “Putin’s approval ratings before the attacks against the Chechens was at 31 percent. By mid-August of that year, it was at 78 percent, in just three months.”
Rubio asked Tillerson again if Putin’s military had committed war crimes under his orders.
“Those are very, very serious charges to make, and I would want to have much more information before reaching a conclusion,” Tillerson said. “There’s a body of record in the public domain, I’m sure there’s a body of record in the classified domain, and I think in order to deal with a serious question like this, I would want to be fully informed before advising the president.”
(image via CNN screengrab)