Moscow calls US ‘anti-Russian’ as election observer row escalates
Moscow yesterday escalated a row over its attempts to send observers to the US presidential polls, accusing Washington of adopting an “anti-Russian” stance. Moscow has said that it is trying to send its own observers to various US states to monitor the November 8 vote, but has been refused accreditation so far. Deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov accused US officials of treating the issue of observers in an “absolutely anti-Russian vein”, speaking to RIA Novosti state news agency.
“If we are deprived of this for political reasons, we will draw our own conclusions,” he warned. “Our American colleagues shouldn’t count on us simply forgetting this in the future,” he said, accusing them of “unacceptable statements”. State Department spokesman John Kirby on Friday accused Moscow of a “PR stunt” and denied any federal policy to refuse Russian observers. He also pointed out that Russia had opted not to join the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) observer mission.
The Russian embassy in Washington said Friday that Moscow had sent several applications to local electoral commissions asking to “get acquainted” with the polling process. Russia received “mostly negative responses including threats that our interest and presence at polling stations could be seen as a criminal act,” it said. It accused some of the states it approached of coordinating “their negative decision with the federal government”.
US presidential candidate Donald Trump has voiced admiration for President Vladimir Putin and backed rapprochement with Moscow, while Hillary Clinton has said Trump would be Putin’s “puppet”. Putin has offered what appears to be veiled support for Trump, saying the Kremlin favors those who “publicly state that it is necessary to build a relationship with Russia”. US officials this month formally accused the Russian government of directing cyber attacks “intended to interfere with the US election process” at American political organizations.