World

Moscow calls US vote meddling claims ‘blabber’, ‘fantasies’

MUNICH

Moscow on Saturday dismissed as "blabber" and "fantasies" allegations that it interfered in the election that brought United States President Donald Trump to power, denials that drew immediate scorn from US officials.

The traded barbs, made at the Munich Security Conference, came a day after the US indicted 13 Russians for running a secret campaign to sway the 2016 vote.

"I am amazed that... the Russians come, send someone every year to basically refute the facts," US Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said.

Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told the attendees about the US charges: "So as long as we do not see facts, everything else is blabber."

The indictments, which include the first charges laid by US Special Counsel Robert Mueller for election interference, detailed a stunning operation launched in 2014 in a bid to sow division and influence US politics "including the presidential election of 2016".

Mr Mueller alleges that by mid-2016, the campaign - under the direction of Mr Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin - became focused on boosting Mr Trump and demeaning his rivals, including Democrat Hillary Clinton.

It allegedly involved hundreds of people working in shifts and with a budget of millions of dollars. Three companies were also indicted.

Mr Mueller charges that members of the group posed as US citizens on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram, posting content that reached "significant numbers" of Americans.

The indictments made no judgment, however, on whether the alleged Russian efforts had altered the outcome of the election.- AFP

WORLD