Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he’s not interested in squashing rumors surrounding his alleged manipulation of the 2016 U.S. presidential elections, adding that his governmental powers are limited and cannot influence election results in America.
Speaking in an interview which was aired on Saturday by American broadcaster NBC News, the Russian leader also stressed that the 13 Russian nationals indicted by the United States may not be ethnically Russian.
“They may be Ukrainians, Tatars or Jews, but with our citizenship, so they’re not Russians in the real sense of it – this should be taken into consideration,” Putin said.
In his blunt response to a question from the interviewer, Megyn Kelly, who asked if he condoned the interference that was alleged in last month’s U.S. indictment by special counsel Robert Mueller, Putin said he thinks “its all the same.”
“…To me it absolutely makes no difference because they do not represent the government,” Putin answered, according to the Russian-language interview transcript posted Saturday by the Kremlin.
The Associated Press also quoted Putin as saying that Russia has neither the tools nor the will to meddle in elections.
“He [Putin] repeatedly complained during the interview that Washington has brushed off Russian initiatives to work together on cybersecurity issues,” the tabloid wrote.
He went further with complaints that the U.S. refuses to work in partnership with Russians but has, instead, chosen to throw 13 Russians to the media.
The Russian leader who has been in office since 7 May, 2012 emphasized on the need for America’s list to be properly checked in order to uncover possible facts that may prove that those indicted persons are, probably, “not even Russians.”
“Maybe they have dual citizenship or a green card,” Putin argued. “Maybe the U.S. paid them for this…How can you know that? I do not know, either.”
Media reports confirm the 13 suspects, alleged to be Russians, were members of the group which analysts and investigators believe to have carried out an elaborate plot to disrupt the 2016 U.S. elections. The allegations against them include running a huge but secret social media trolling campaign partially aimed at helping Trump win against Hillary Clinton of the Democratic Party.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, one of the indicted 13, has been referred to, by Russian media, as “Putin’s chef” because he owns a chain of restaurants and catering businesses that have hosted the Kremlin leader’s dinners with foreign dignitaries.
Putin continued in the interview with claims that it is quite common for the American government to interfere in Russian elections.
“They do it all the time but it’s impossible for us to do the same,” the 65-year-old said.
“First, we have principles whereby we do not allow others to interfere in our domestic affairs and do not get into the affairs of others,” he continued, “secondly, we don’t have this quantity of tools.”