MOSCOW – Russia’s foreign ministry dismissed on Saturday accusations of interference in the 2016 United States presidential election as absurd following the indictment of 13 Russian nationals by the special counsel appointed by the US Justice Department to investigate the alleged electoral meddling.
Maria Zakharova, the ministry’s main spokesperson, said on her Facebook page that the allegations against the Kremlin made by US authorities – including the country’s main intelligence agencies – lacked plausibility.
“They were 13, according to the US Department of Justice. 13 people intervened in the US election?! 13 against the secret services with a budget of billions? Against intelligence and counterintelligence agencies, against all the latest technological developments?” Zakharova said.
“Absurd? Yes,” she added. “But this is the modern American political reality.”
Zakharova went on to suggest that special counsel Robert Mueller, the former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation who is overseeing the case, had deliberately chosen the number 13 for its negative connotation in folklore.
“Apparently, there are no bad associations with all the other numbers,” she said.
Later on Saturday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov claimed at the Munich Security Conference that many US officials had said that no foreign country had any impact on the election’s outcome.
“Until we see the facts, everything else is just blather,” Lavrov said.
On Friday, Mueller indicted 13 Russians and three Russian entities, charging all of them with conspiracy to defraud the US, five of them with aggravated identity theft and three with conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud.
“The defendants allegedly conducted what they called information warfare against the US with the stated goal of spreading distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general,” Rod Rosenstein, the US deputy attorney general, said in a press conference laying out the charges.
According to the indictment, the defendants used false identities to disseminate messages online favoring then-candidate Donald Trump and harming his main opponent, Hillary Clinton, while purchasing advertisements on social media platforms with the aim of influencing US public opinion.
Russia, on the other hand, has repeatedly denied making an effort to subvert the election and described the accusations as lacking any substance.