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Russia's Lavrov dismisses US election claims

February 17, 2018

A day after the US indictment of 13 Russians accused of plotting to disrupt the 2016 presidential vote, Russia has dismissed the accusations. But US National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster has said evidence is solid.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov speaks at the Munich Security Conference
Image: Reuters/R. Orlowski

Lavrov: Meddling accusations are 'just blabber'

Russian diplomats have dismissed as "blabber" and "fantasies" allegations that Russia actively tried to tilt the 2016 US presidential election toward current President Donald Trump. 

"So long as we don't see facts everything else is blabber," Foreign Secretary Sergey Lavrov said Saturday as he attended the Munich Security Conference.

Sergey Kislyak, the former Russian ambassador to the US, was equally dismissive. "We didn't meddle in the American political life," said Kislyak, who was in Washington when Trump won the election. "Whatever allegations are being mounted against us are simply fantasies that are being used for political reasons inside the United States in the fight between different sides of the political divide."

On a panel at the Munich conference, Kislyak denied that he or his staff had carried out any such activities during his time there. 

US special counsel Robert Mueller announced federal indictments against 13 Russian individuals on Friday, accusing them of taking part in an elaborate plot to tilt the election results.

Asked about the indictments, Lavrov said: "I don't have a reaction because anything and everything can be published. We see how accusations, statements, are multiplying."

Lavrov pointed to US officials, including Vice President Mike Pence, who have said no outside countries influenced the US election. Lavrov criticized what he called "this irrational myth about this global Russian threat, traces of which are found everywhere — from Brexit to the Catalan referendum."

Confused US response 

Also in Munich, US National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said Friday's 37-page indictment left no doubt that the allegations of Russian meddling were true. "With the FBI indictment, the evidence is now incontrovertible," McMaster said on Saturday.

McMaster said Mueller's team had shown the US was becoming "more and more adept at tracing the origins of this espionage and subversion." He also suggested that "Russia may evaluate what it's been doing ... because it's just not working."

However, Trump on Saturday night undermined McMaster's statement" in a tweet, saying that the 2016 elections results "were not impacted or changed by the Russians" and blaming the Democrats and their candidate Hillary Clinton for collusion with Russia. 

The indictment charges 13 people with running a Russian propaganda arm overseeing an alleged criminal and espionage conspiracy to interfere in the 2016 US presidential campaign to support Donald Trump and disparage his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton. They are the first criminal charges in the ongoing case.

The alleged scheme involved a multimillion-dollar campaign with hundreds of people working around the clock.  

Read more: Trump willing to be questioned 'under oath'

bik/jm (AP, AFP)

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