Lavrov calls US election meddling claims ‘blabber’
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Lavrov calls US election meddling claims ‘blabber’

US special counsel alleges that in 2016, campaign led by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close ally of Putin, became focused on boosting Trump, demeaning Clinton

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov speaks to reporters at the United Nations on  January 19, 2018. (AFP Photo/Don Emmert)
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov speaks to reporters at the United Nations on January 19, 2018. (AFP Photo/Don Emmert)

MUNICH, Germany (AFP) — Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Saturday dismissed as “blabber” accusations that Moscow had interfered in the US election that brought President Donald Trump to power.

“So as long as we don’t see facts, everything else is blabber,” Lavrov said at the Munich Security Conference, a day after the US indicted 13 Russians for running a secret campaign to sway the American vote.

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 social division in the United States and influence American politics “including the presidential election of 2016.”

Mueller alleges that by mid-2016, the campaign — under the direction of Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin — became focused on boosting 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.

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 content was retweeted by the president’s two eldest sons Don Jr and Eric, as well as other top campaign officials and members of Trump’s inner circle.

The indictments made no judgement however on whether the Russian efforts had altered the outcome of the election.

When asked to comment on the charges at the top security gathering in Germany, Lavrov said: “I don’t have a reaction because anything and everything can be published. We see how accusations, statements, are multiplying.”

But he stressed that US officials, including Vice President Mike Pence, had in the past “denied that any country influenced results of the election”.

Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova had earlier rubbished Mueller’s allegations as “absurd”.

Trump meanwhile has seized on the indictments as proof that his campaign team did not conspire with Moscow.

“Russia started their anti-US campaign in 2014, long before I announced that I would run for president,” he tweeted Friday.

“The results of the election were not impacted. The Trump campaign did nothing wrong – no collusion!”

None of the 13 Russian suspects are in US custody.

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