Kremlin accuses foreign parties of smearing Putin ahead of vote
The Kremlin on Monday lashed out at unidentified foreign governments, organisations and media for allegedly seeking to disrupt upcoming polls and taint President Vladimir Putin's reputation.
"Some public organisations, non-governmental organisations, security services of foreign countries and certain media have joined an election campaign in our country before the start of said campaign," Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
"They continue to actively try to influence our country, they continue to rock the boat in our country," he said, adding they aimed to first and foremost "discredit President Putin."
"Comrades are working in accordance with tried and tested schemes."
In September, the country will hold parliamentary elections but critics fear that the vote will once again be manipulated by the Kremlin and few opposition candidates will be allowed to run.
Putin warned in February that foreign enemies were seeking to disrupt upcoming parliamentary elections and ordered Russia's security service to be vigilant.
Peskov said the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists -- a network of journalists in more than 65 countries -- were zeroing in on Putin's private life, his family and friends.
He said the consortium, which he claimed included members of various security services, was preparing "an information attack" -- a series of stories aimed at sullying Putin's reputation, which he described as "an undisguised paid-for hack job".
"We don't like this," he said.
He said another media outlet -- which he did not name -- was seeking to probe Putin's ties to businesspeople and alleged favouritism.
Peskov warned that the Kremlin was ready to fight back and may sue those journalists for defamation if they print "lies" about Putin.
© 2016 AFP