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Russian politicians dismiss Theresa May 'election meddling' criticism

Russian politicians dismiss Theresa May 'election meddling' criticism
From BBC - November 14, 2017

Senior Russian politicians have dismissed accusations by Theresa May that Moscow has meddled in elections and carried out cyber-espionage.

On Monday night, Mrs May accused Moscow of "planting fake stories" to "sow discord in the West".

She said Vladimir Putin's government was trying to "undermine free societies".

Russian senators accused the UK's PM of "making a fool of herself" with a "counterproductive" speech.

Mrs May's comments, at the Lord Mayor's Banquet at London's Guildhall, were in contrast to those of US President Donald Trump, who last week said he believed President Putin's denial of intervening in the 2016 presidential election.

The Russian Embassy in the UK hit back at her criticism on Twitter and described her remarks as "fake news".

Alexei Pushkov, a Russian senator involved in media policy, said: "The world order that suits May, with the seizure of Iraq, war in Libya, the rise of IS and terrorism in Europe, has had its day. You ca not save it by attacking Russia."

Leonid Slutsky, the chairman of the foreign affairs committee in the lower house of Russia's Parliament, said: "Russia, like the UK, is by no means striving to bring back the Cold War. We are ready to develop a mutual dialogue and partnership relations."

He added: "In this case, I completely disagree with the statement that Russia is allegedly trying to undermine the international system of rules."

And Frants Klintsevich, deputy chairman of the defence and security committee in the Parliament's upper house, said: "May has done more damage to herself than to us, making a fool of herself in the eyes of the world community and once again raising Russia's profile."

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is due to visit Russia next month.

In what Mrs May described as a "very simple message" for President Putin, she said he must choose a very "different path" from the one that in recent years had seen Moscow annex Crimea, foment conflict in Ukraine and launch cyber-attacks on governments and parliaments across Europe.

Russia could be a valuable partner of the West but only if it "plays by the rules", she argued.

"Russia has repeatedly violated the national airspace of several European countries and mounted a sustained campaign of cyber-espionage and disruption.

"This has included meddling in elections and hacking the Danish Ministry of Defence and the Bundestag among many others.

"We know what you are doing and you will not succeed. Because you underestimate the resilience of our democracies, the enduring attraction of free and open societies and the commitment of Western nations to the alliances that bind us."

Analysis by BBC diplomatic correspondent James Landale

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