11:41 GMT22 June 2021
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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - Russian President Vladimir Putin told the NBC broadcaster that the Russians, who are accused of alleged meddling in the US presidential election, cannot be prosecuted by Moscow if they have not breached the Russian law.

    "We cannot respond to that [alleged meddling in the US election] if they do not violate the Russian laws… I have to see first what they have done, give us materials, give us information… We, Russia, cannot prosecute anyone if they have not violated the Russian law," Putin said.

    He pointed out that any legal proceedings can be launched in Russia only after an official request submitted by the US authorities.

    The US Justice Department revealed in February in court documents that the United States accused 13 Russian nationals and three entities of trying to interfere in the 2016 presidential vote. The 27-page indictment, a product of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, alleged that those accused used fake personas to try to influence the outcome of the elections in President Donald Trump’s favor.

    The indictment targeted both persons and entities, including a research agency US lawmakers have referred to as a Russian internet "troll farm," albeit no evidence has surfaced tying the agency to the Kremlin.

    The court document said that the defendants aimed to distort the 2016 election by promoting then-Republican candidate Donald Trump and denigrating his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.

    "They engaged in operations primarily intended to communicate derogatory information about Hillary Clinton, to denigrate other candidates such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and to support Bernie Sanders and then-candidate Donald Trump," the document said.

    However, US President Donald Trump did not see the Mueller indictments as a negative development, but as yet another vindication of the legitimacy of his election, according to a White House statement issued late on Friday. Moreover, Donald Trump has used Twitter as a tool to underscore his thoughts on what the evidence proved.

    "Russia started their anti-US campaign in 2014, long before I announced that I would run for President," Trump said. "The results of the election were not impacted."

    Russian officials struck back at US lawmakers' comments about alleged Moscow's influence of the presidential vote. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stressed that Washington has made accusations against Russia and drafted sanctions lists, but has not provided any evidence of Moscow's interference in the US elections.

    "If I understand correctly, this is a list of 13 persons who are accused of actions to meddle in the interior affairs of the United States, but I did not see concrete facts, dates, and other information that could be correlated with something resembling facts. So, it turns out that the charges have been brought, but no evidence has been provided," Lavrov stressed.

    Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that the accusations of 13 Russian citizens of alleged interference in the US election process are absurd. In turn, Leonid Slutsky, Russian parliament’s foreign affairs committee chair questioned the ability of 13 separate individuals to affect the voting by more than 300 million people in the US "with its huge state apparatus and billions of dollars in election spending."


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