Russia accuses USA of election meddling
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Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told a leading news agency the US has sought to destabilise his country ahead of this month's vote
RUSSIA said today it has proof Washington has tried to interfere in the country’s upcoming presidential election.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told a leading Russian news agency the US has tried to destabilise his country ahead of this month's vote.
But Vladimir Putin's loyal sidekick did not offer any kind of evidence to back up his shocking accusation, Reuters reported.
Russians will cast their votes on March 18 and polls show President Putin is currently miles ahead of his political opponents.
Now Ryabkov has said Moscow has evidence the US has been trying to interfere in the ballot - which could see Putin return to power for a historic fourth term.
The Interfax news agency quoted Ryabkov as saying America was trying to sow chaos in Russia and that new US sanctions were aimed at destabilising Russia.
It's not the first time Russia has made the claims. Last December, politicians close to Putin pointed the finger at Washington saying they were trying to "interfere" in the country's electoral process.
US intelligence agencies have long accused Moscow of interfering in its 2016 presidential election - which led to the new sanctions being imposed.
Special counsel Robert Mueller has even been tasked with leading an investigation into Trump's alleged ties with Russia.
US spy chiefs have told 21 states they WERE targeted by Putin's hackers before the 2016 US presidential election.
But Russia has denied it was involved in trying to disrupt the election, and Putin said any Russians charged in Mueller’s probe will not be extradited to the US.
Putin told NBC News: “Never. Never. Russia does not extradite its citizens to anyone.”
The Russian leader also boasted today that Russia thwarted more than 400 foreign spies last year.
And he called on the FSB, the domestic intelligence agency, to act to block further foreign attempts to obtain political, economic and military information.
Putin once ran the FSB himself and his comments played into one of his core narratives - depicting Russia as a fortress besieged by hostile foreign powers and himself as its defender-in-chief.
He said: "In recent years, as you know very well, there has been an increase in foreign intelligence agency activity.