The Borneo Post (Sabah)

Putin: Maybe ‘Jews’ but not Kremlin meddled in US election

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WASHINGTON: President Vladimir Putin suggested in a US television interview that Ukrainians, Tatars or ‘Jews’, could have meddled in the 2016 US presidenti­al election — but not the Kremlin.

“Why have you decided the Russian authoritie­s, myself included, gave anybody permission to do this?” Putin asked in the often-combative interview with NBC television.

The leading US intelligen­ce agencies concluded last year that Putin personally directed an intelligen­ce effort to influence the 2016 US presidenti­al election to undermine Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign and boost Republican Donald Trump.

Last month US Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is conducting a widespread probe into Russia’s role in the campaign, indicted 13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies for allegedly backing Trump, maligning Clinton, and engaging in other election interferen­ce.

“So what if they’re Russians?” Putin said of the allegation­s, according to transcript­s of the NBC interview released late Friday.

“There are 146 million Russians. So what?... I don’t care. I couldn’t care less... They do not represent the interests of the Russian state.”

“Maybe,” Putin said, “they are not even Russians but Ukrainians, Tatars or Jews, but with Russian citizenshi­p, which should also be checked; maybe they have dual citizenshi­p or a green card; maybe the US paid them for this.

“How can you know that? I do not know either.” — AFP

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