Moscow has accused the US of "meddling" in Russian presidential elections in a sharp rebuke over Washington's views on opposition leader Alexei Navalny's bid. The Russian foreign ministry said the US State Department's recent statement is tantamount to a "direct interference" in the electoral process.
Multiple US intelligence agencies had accused Russia of interfering in the US presidential race. Accusations by several American agencies and repeated denials by Russia have snowballed into a major political crisis not just in the US but have also had an impact on US' foreign relations.
Amid the US' recurrent allegations, the Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova issued a statement warning against Washington's attempts to play a role in Russia's domestic affairs.
"This statement by the US Department of State, which I'm sure will not be the only one, is a direct interference into the electoral process and the state's domestic affairs," said Zakharova adding that the comments are nothing but "meddling in the Russian elections".
"The funniest thing about it is that this statement was made by the same people, who put the foreign agent label on RT and Sputnik, persecuted Russian media worldwide and invested vast sums in 'countering Russian propaganda,'" she added. "And these people expressed outrage over alleged Russian 'interference' in their electoral process for an entire year?!" she wrote on social media.
Zakharova's remarks were in response to the earlier statement made by the State Department expressing concern over "restriction on independent voices" in Russia. "These actions indicate the Russian government has failed to protect space in Russia for the exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms," added the US department.
The State Department's comments were made in the wake of Moscow's top electoral body's decision to ban Navalny from contesting in the presidential election in March 2018 against President Vladimir Putin.
Navalny, a charismatic and prominent anti-government figure, had already called for protests against Russian election officials' rejection of his bid and asked his supporters to boycott the process. To that, Kremlin responded by saying: "Calls for boycott ought to be carefully studied to see if they are breaking the law."