Putin, Merkel spar in Rus­sia over elec­tion med­dling

Cape Breton Post - - World -

Dur­ing a tense ap­pear­ance with Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel, Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin de­nied on Tues­day that Moscow ever in­ter­feres in elec­tions in other coun­tries.

Speak­ing dur­ing a joint news con­fer­ence fol­low­ing talks at his Black Sea res­i­dence, Putin said ac­cu­sa­tions of med­dling in the 2016 U.S. pres­i­den­tial elec­tion were “sim­ply ru­mours” that were be­ing used as part of the po­lit­i­cal fight in Wash­ing­ton. He also de­nied in­ter­fer­ing in Euro­pean elec­tions.

U.S. in­tel­li­gence agen­cies say they have de­fin­i­tive ev­i­dence that Rus­sia was be­hind the hack­ing of Demo­cratic email ac­counts, with the aim of ben­e­fit­ing Don­ald Trump’s cam­paign and harm­ing his Demo­cratic op­po­nent, Hil­lary Clin­ton.

Merkel said she was con­fi­dent that Ger­many can weather any dis­in­for­ma­tion cam­paign tar­get­ing Ger­many’s up­com­ing elec­tion. Asked about the threat dur­ing the news con­fer­ence, she cited two re­cent in­ci­dents of what she de­scribed as “gross mis­in­for­ma­tion.”

In one in­stance, Rus­sian state me­dia and the for­eign min­is­ter claimed that a 13-year-old girl of Rus­sian ori­gin had been kid­napped and raped by asy­lum­seek­ers in Ber­lin, and that Ger­man au­thor­i­ties were cov­er­ing up the case. Po­lice later de­ter­mined the girl had made up the kid­nap­ping, though a man in his 20s was charged with sex­ual abuse of a mi­nor be­cause she was be­low the age of con­sent.

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