No evidence Russia meddled in US election

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says allegations of Moscow’s meddling in American and European elections are “fantasies.”

Lavrov told reporters in Moscow on Tuesday there was no evidence that Russia had interfered in last year’s US presidential elections.

“Without a single piece of proof, we are as you know being accused of meddling not only in the US election, but also in those in European states,” Lavrov said at a meeting of the Association of European Businesses.

“Recently, there was an allegation that Moscow decided what minister to appoint in South Africa. In general, there is no limit to fantasy,” he added.

Lavrov made the remarks after a US federal grand jury charged three former aides to US President Donald Trump’s election campaign with conspiracy against the United States as part of the Russia inquiry.

On Monday, Trump’s former election campaign chairman Paul Manafort and another former associate appeared in court and pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Trump has repeatedly denied allegations that his campaign colluded with Russians and has condemned the investigations.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has also denied the allegations.

Putin’s spokesman said Monday that any accusations against Russia were absolutely unfounded.

“We refuted this from the very beginning and we refute this now,” Dmitry Peskov told journalists at a regular briefing.

“Any accusations that emerge from a US investigation into US citizens do not concern us: this is America’s internal business and we simply observe with interest.”

American intelligence agencies claimed in January that Russia interfered in the 2016 US presidential election to try to help then Republican candidate Trump defeat Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

The intelligence agencies said Moscow’s interference included a campaign of hacking and releasing embarrassing emails, and disseminating propaganda via social media to discredit her campaign.

US special counsel Robert Mueller, who was appointed by the US Justice Department to lead the Russia probe, is investigating whether Trump election officials cooperated with those Russian efforts.

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