MOSCOW — Russian president Vladimir Putin today said that Bradley Manning—the former US Army private recently convicted of leaking vast amounts of confidential government information to the organization Wikileaks—should be executed for his crimes. Putin said that what Manning did was “unforgivable” and “disgusting,” but clarified that he “[wasn’t] talking about the document leaks,” adding that the “real horror is [Manning’s] perverse plans to become a lady.”
“What is this freak Manning up to?” Putin, a former KGB officer who has led Russia as President and Prime Minister since 1999, said during a Kremlin press conference. “He says he wants to be a woman–but I ask: Does he not have a penis? How can he be a woman then?”
Manning–who says he has identified as female since childhood–announced Thursday that he plans to live the rest of his life as a woman, and has adopted the name Chelsea. Manning reportedly plans to undergo hormone therapy to help his transition, although officials say that such treatments will not be available to Manning while he serves his sentence, which will last at least nine years.
Putin said that, in light of Manning’s revelation, a prison sentence is far too lenient. “The only thing to do with a pervert like Bradley… I mean Chelsea–whatever–is to put it out of its misery,” Putin said. “Execution is the only choice.”
Some observers are calling Putin’s statements hypocritical, however, since he approved granting asylum to Edward Snowden, a former NSA employee currently wanted for crimes similar to Manning’s. But Russia’s history of discrimination against homosexual and transgender people—including a recently-passed law that prohibits “homosexual propagandizing”—makes his remarks unsurprising.
“It’s just two different situations,” Putin said in his own defense. “We granted Edward Snowden asylum because he’s a courageous MAN. How can I do the same for Manning? Mother Russia only has two types of restrooms, Men and Women. Where would he go BM?”