Russia accuses US of meddling in vote

1st March 2012, Comments 0 comments

Russia on Thursday accused the United States of trying to influence its election process by funding opposition groups in advance of Vladimir Putin's expected return to the Kremlin in weekend polls.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov delivered a scathing critique in which he accused the United States of following Cold War-era stereotypes and trying to talk down to Russia.

"The days when Russia could be lectured or preached to are over," Lavrov said in an interview published in the online edition of the Rossiyskaya Gazeta government daily.

"Our American partners understand this perfectly well, but the inertia of past approaches and stereotypes in Washington is still evident," Lavrov said.

"We respond firmly... to attempts to affect the political and electoral processes in Russia, including by way of fuinding civil society groups."

The remarks echo similar accusations by Putin and follow a state-led crackdown on a private Moscow-based election monitor called Golos (Voice) that openly receives funding from the West.

Putin had earlier accused the US State Department of inciting the street protests that erupted in Moscow following disputed December parliamentary elections and have continued in the run-up to Sunday's presidential vote.

The Russian premier's comments drew a sharp response from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and now threaten to complicate the two sides' relations on Putin's expected return for a third term as president.

Lavrov said the United States had strict laws barring foreigners from funding election campaigns and that Russia could alter its laws to make sure the same applied to organisations such as Golos.

"We have to have our legislation catch up with these democratic standards," Lavrov said in reference to the US law.

© 2012 AFP

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