Russia demands answers from US over election interference
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has demanded answers from the US ambassador over ‘election interference,’ as Moscow says it has proof of ‘serious’ sabotage efforts.
Speaking to a press briefing on Wednesday, Lavrov said the compelling evidence had been presented to Ambassador John Sullivan, who was summoned for a meeting on Friday.
“The evidence was given to him,” the top Russian diplomat said. “It is quite serious, really. We are still waiting for an answer from our American colleagues why this is happening.”
The charges, Lavrov said, relate to the refusal of American tech companies to block access to prohibited content.
Lavrov noted that the companies should, in this case, obey the Russian law.
“We have reason to believe that the US authorities are also not completely helpless on this particular issue.”
Media reports said the ambassador was summoned to Russia’s Foreign Ministry on September 10.
Last week, Russia's digital watchdog Roskomnadzor issued a stern warning to Apple and Google and some other companies against violating the Russian election laws.
“During the pre-election campaign, it is prohibited to enable the violation of Russian legislation, including those related to election campaigning on the internet.”
Russia accuses a number of Western firms and businesses of helping users circumvent court orders and enabling them to access blocked websites.
Specifically, the four US companies named by Roskomnadzor stand accused of failing to implement a ban on accessing the so-called Smart Voting website, set up by allies of jailed Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny.
Officials say the platform is an extension of Navalny’s activity.
Lavrov earlier said that parliamentary elections could become a lightning rod for potential foreign interference.
“Our Western colleagues do not hide the fact that many of them would prefer to deal with a weak Russia, devoid of landmarks – a Russia ready for any concessions. We see efforts, nearly daily, to influence our domestic and foreign policy,” the foreign minister said in July.
“I want to say with full responsibility that the plans being hatched by the West will not work, [Russian President Vladimir Putin] has repeatedly said this.”