Following State Department’s criticism of Russia's decision to bar an opposition leader from running in the coming presidential election against Vladimir Putin, Russian foreign ministry accused the U.S. of “direct interference in our electoral process and internal affairs.”
“This State Department statement, which I'm sure will be repeated, is a direct interference in our electoral process and internal affairs,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova wrote.
Russia’s Central Election Commission (CEC) rejected opposition leader Alexey Navalny’s application to register as a presidential candidate. The commission said his application was rejected on the basis of a series of spurious criminal convictions.
However, his supporters think the move was politically motivated.
The State Department criticized the move and expressed concern over Kremlin’s "ongoing crackdown against independent voices, from journalists to civil society activists and opposition politicians."
“These actions indicate the Russian government has failed to protect space in Russia for the exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms. More broadly, we urge the government of Russia to hold genuine elections that are transparent, fair, and free and that guarantee the free expression of the will of the people, consistent with its international human rights obligations,” the statement said.
The criticism was not taken well by the Russian authorities who instantly fired back at the statement.
“The funniest thing is that these are the same people who just branded RT and Sputnik foreign agents, who are harassing Russian media around the world and who are investing huge amounts of money into ‘countering Russian propaganda’ which is how they label anyone they disagree with. And these people expressed outrage over alleged Russian ‘interference’ in their electoral process for an entire year!?” Zakharova post further read.
However, the hypocritical fallacy put forward by the Russian official is farfetched because the U.S. Intelligence Community has stated that Russians were attempting to interfere in the 2016 presidential elections and used cyber tools to influence public opinion.
U.S. special counsel Robert Mueller is also investigating the Russian influence in the 2016 U.S. election. However, Moscow has repeatedly denied the idea and said it didn’t make any effort to influence the election.
On the other hand, in the criticism, the State Department simply called the “government of Russia to hold genuine elections that are transparent, fair, and free.”
But that seems to be difficult considering that Kremlin blacklisted NGOs that would have had a big hand in ensuring electoral transparency in the upcoming presidential elections in Russia.
Despite State Department’s criticism, President Donald Trump failed to call out Russia on the undemocratic move. He has also dismissed the Russia probe as a “witch hunt.”
Russia is set to vote in March 2018 where President Vladimir Putin will run for another six-year term and is most likely to win.
Banner / Thumbnail : Reuters, Carlos Barria