Russia's foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, speaks at the Security Conference in Munich, Germany, Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018. (Sven Hoppe/dpa via AP)

Russian foreign minister dismisses US election indictment

February 17, 2018 - 7:40 am

MUNICH (AP) — Russia's foreign minister said Saturday that the U.S. indictment of 13 Russians accused of an elaborate plot to disrupt the 2016 presidential election is "just blabber."

The federal indictment brought Friday by special counsel Robert Mueller represents the most detailed allegations to date of illegal Russian meddling during the campaign that sent Donald Trump to the White House.

Asked about the indictment at the Munich Security Conference, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov replied: "I have no response. You can publish anything, and we see those indictments multiplying, the statements multiplying."

He argued that U.S. officials, including Vice President Mike Pence, have said no country influenced the U.S. election results.

"Until we see the facts, everything else is just blabber — I'm sorry for this expression," Lavrov said.

The 13 are charged with running a huge but hidden social media trolling campaign aimed in part at helping Republican Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton.

The indictment marks the first criminal charges against Russians believed to have secretly worked to influence the outcome.

According to the indictment, the Russian organization was funded by Yevgeny Prigozhin. He is a wealthy St. Petersburg businessman with ties to the Russian government and President Vladimir Putin.

Lavrov denounced "this irrational myth about this global Russian threat, traces of which are found everywhere — from Brexit to the Catalan referendum."

In Russia, one of the 13 people indicted said that the U.S. justice system is unfair.

Mikhail Burchik was quoted as saying by the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda that "I am very surprised that, in the opinion of the Washington court, several Russian people interfered in the elections in the United States. I do not know how the Americans came to this decision."

Burchik was identified in the indictment as executive director of an organization that allegedly sowed propaganda on social media to try to interfere with the 2016 election.

Burchik was quoted as saying Saturday that "they have one-sided justice, and it turns out that you can hang the blame on anyone."

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