The Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said during an interview with the RIA news agency aired on Monday that the Russian government has evidence which shows that the United States is attempting to interfere in Moscow’s upcoming presidential elections.
CNBC reported that the Interfax news agency cited Ryabkov as saying that the U.S. was looking to create political chaos in Russia, adding that the U.S.-imposed sanctions were primarily aimed at destabilizing the country. However, Ryabkov did not provide any evidence to support his allegations.
The ballot box will open on March 18 when the Russian citizens will give their vote for the next Russian president. The latest opinion and popularity polls indicate that President Vladimir Putin will keep his office with an overwhelming victory.
According to CNBC, many western observers are skeptical about the democratic merit of Russia’s electoral process in general.
Vladimir Putin has been the front face of Russia since first becoming prime minister in 1999. Since then he has been a dominant force in political life while alternating between a prime minister and president as result of the Russian constitution which does not allow for presidents to serve more than two consecutive terms.
In recent months, relations between President Donald Trump and Putin have taken a dark road as the international headlines are being dominated by the findings of the U.S. investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 elections, as well as possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia.
Last month, special counsel Robert Mueller charged 13 Russian nationals and three Russian groups for interfering in the election. Putin, during an interview on Sunday, promised not to extradite those who have been charged.
“Never. Never. Russia does not extradite its citizens to anyone, just like the United States,” Putin said. “Does the United States extradite its citizens to anyone?”
So far, the investigation has charged several individuals and businesses with interference, saying they sought to undermine Trump’s rival, Hillary Clinton. Although U.S. intelligence agencies have unanimously agreed that Moscow interfered in the 2016 presidential election, both Trump and Russia have frequently denied that.