Moscow denies any role in US election campaign

It dismisses as absurd claims by Democrats in US that it leaked embarrassing party e-mails

MOSCOW • The Kremlin has denied interfering in the US election campaign, after President Barack Obama refused to rule out that Russia could be trying to sway the vote in favour of Mr Donald Trump.

"President (Vladimir) Putin has repeatedly said that Russia has never interfered and does not interfere in internal affairs, especially in the electoral processes of other countries," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters yesterday, as he denied Russia was involved in a hack of Democratic National Committee (DNC) e-mails.

"Moscow has carefully avoided any actions, any words that could be interpreted as direct or indirect influence on the (US) electoral process," Mr Peskov added.

Mrs Hillary Clinton was proclaimed the Democratic Party's presidential nominee on Tuesday night at a star-studded convention in Philadelphia.

Cracks emerged within the party this week after leaked e-mails show that leaders of the supposedly neutral DNC had worked to undermine the candidacy of Mrs Clinton's primary rival Bernie Sanders.

The Clinton campaign has blamed the leak on Russian hackers bent on helping Mr Trump, the Republican presidential candidate, accusations which the Kremlin has shrugged off as "absurd".

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has said it is investigating.

"If you talk about some suspicions regarding our country, then you need at the very least to be precise and concrete," Mr Peskov said.

In an interview with NBC News, Mr Obama said that "anything was possible" following suggestions that Russia could have been behind the hack.

Mr Obama told NBC he could not speak about the precise motive for the hack or subsequent leak but was aware of Mr Trump's positive comments about the Russian leadership. "What we do know is that the Russians hack our systems. Not just government systems, but private systems," Mr Obama said.

Mr Trump has made no secret of his admiration for President Putin, leading some to suggest the Kremlin strongman was working to help propel the real estate billionaire into the White House.

In December last year, Mr Putin praised Mr Trump as "a very striking man, unquestionably talented".

"It's not up to us to judge his virtues, that is up to US voters, but he is the absolute leader of the presidential race," Mr Putin said.

Mr Trump responded by hailing Mr Putin as a "strong leader, a powerful leader".

Mr Peskov yesterday also said the Kremlin regretted that politicians in Washington were playing the "Russian card", adding that it had become "the main card of their game".

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 28, 2016, with the headline 'Moscow denies any role in US election campaign'. Print Edition | Subscribe