Putin asks 'poorly informed' Greta Thunberg to 'go tell developing countries why they should continue to live in poverty'
Russian President Vladimir Putin, on Wednesday, called Swedish teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg a "poorly informed teenager" who is being "used by adults." The Kremlin leader, while referring to her campaign to cut fossil fuel use, also said that the 16-year-old should "tell developing countries why they should live in poverty." Putin made his statement at an energy conference in Moscow while chairing a session titled 'Energy Partnership for Sustainable Growth'.
While addressing the audience, Putin said that he does not share the widespread enthusiasm about Thunberg's speech at the United Nations General Assembly last month where she slammed international delegates for their inactions toward climate change. The Russian president instead said that it was deplorable that she was being used by some groups to achieve their own agendas.
"I may disappoint you but I don't share the common excitement about the speech by Greta Thunberg," Putin said. "No one has explained to Greta that the modern world is complex and different and...people in Africa or in many Asian countries want to live at the same wealth level as in Sweden. Go and explain to developing countries why they should continue living in poverty and not be like Sweden," Reuters reported.
The Kremlin leader added that young people who pay attention to environmental issues should be supported, however, he added that "when someone is using children and teenagers in personal interests, it only deserves to be condemned."
"I'm sure that Greta is a kind and very sincere girl," he said. "But adults must do everything not to bring teenagers and children into some extreme situations."
Thunberg, who rose to popularity through her weekly Friday protest outside the Swedish parliament a year ago, inspired millions of people across the world take to the streets in an effort to demand an emergency action on climate change from their governments.
Thunberg, at the UN conference, told world leaders: "This is all wrong. I shouldn't be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you? You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words."
Putin's comments came days after a member of the Russian lower house of parliament, the Duma, invited Thunberg to Russia to deliver a speech on climate change in the country.