In an interesting twist of events, Russia is now accusing the United States of meddling in its upcoming presidential election. On Tuesday, a Moscow official stated that the U.S. State Department’s criticism of a ban preventing an opposition leader from running against Vladimir Putin constitutes “direct interference” in its electoral affairs.
“This State Department statement, which I’m sure will be repeated, is a direct interference in our electoral process and internal affairs,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a Facebook statement, according to Business Insider.
The State Department spokesperson said that they were concerned over Russia’s “ongoing crackdown against independent voices, from journalists to civil society activists to opposition politicians.”
Russia’s Central Electoral Commission formally banned candidate Alexei Navalny last weekend from being listed on the ballot in the country’s upcoming presidential elections, claiming that he’d been previously convicted of embezzlement.
Navalny has been an outspoken critic of Putin and aimed to run for the presidency against the leader as he seeks re-election for his fourth term in office, his second consecutive six-year term.
“These actions indicate the Russian government has failed to protect space in Russia for the exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms,” the State Department statement reads. “More broadly, we urge the government of Russia to hold genuine elections that are transparent, fair, and free and that guarantee the free expression of the will of the people, consistent with its international human rights obligations.”
Zakharova pushed back against the United States’ criticism of the electoral move, calling the statement hypocritical given the ongoing investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
“And these people expressed outrage over alleged Russian ‘interference’ in their electoral process for an entire year?!” Zakharova remarked.
The U.S. intelligence community has stated in certain terms that Moscow produced online propaganda and politically inflammatory online material aimed at swaying the 2016 election. Allegations against Trump having “colluded” with Russia to win the U.S. presidency have yet to be proven.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria #Zakharova described #US @StateDept’s comments on the rejection of Russian opposition activist Alexei #Navalny‘s presidential bid as “meddling in the Russian #elections” pic.twitter.com/3M4oE1ZwmS
— ГК РФ 🇷🇺 в Женеве (@RusConsulGen) December 27, 2017
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