In Brief

Is the West interfering in Russia’s election?

Moscow says it has ‘tangible evidence’ of western involvement in its domestic affairs

Russia has turned the tables on the governments and security agencies which accuse it of meddling in foreign elections, claiming it has evidence of western interference in its forthcoming presidential vote.

The allegation was made by Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, who said Russia had proof of “the destructive interference of some Western countries” in the run-up to March’s election, Reuters reports.

She said Russia had told European countries that “such activity should stop” and threatened “tough countermeasures” if it did not.

Her claims were backed by Russian prosecutor-general Yuri Chaika, who said foreign agencies’ attempts “to interfere in our country’s domestic affairs require a harsh reaction from our prosecutors”.

The claims appear to relate to foreign media coverage.  “The US public propaganda outlets, which have already been recognized as foreign agents, usually act as instigators,” said Andrei Klimov, head of Russia’s commission for the protection of state sovereignty, according to the state-controlled Sputnik website.

Last year, the Russian parliament unanimously passed a bill designating all international media outlets “foreign agents”, a retaliatory response to similar action taken by the US Congress against Russia’s state-funded news channel, RT.

The Kremlin has repeatedly denied allegations it has interfered in foreign elections but the US intelligence services say they are certain Russian agents were involved in spreading propaganda during the 2016 US presidential election in a state-backed campaign to influence the result.

There are also strong suspicions similar tactics were employed in the run-up to the Brexit vote and during last year’s French presidential election.

Russia’s presidential election will take place in March, with polls suggesting incumbent Vladimir Putin is set to win a fourth term by a huge margin. 

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