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Kremlin dismisses claims of Russian meddling as ‘hysteria’

Moscow is again dismissing claims of Russian interference in last year’s US presidential election as baseless.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told CNN on Tuesday that indictments against former Trump campaign aides “contribute to already over-the-top Russophobic hysteria” and said allegations of contacts with Russian officials are “unfounded” and “unsubstantiated.”

Answering questions from CNN on a conference call, Peskov said, “So far Russia is not featured in any way in these indictments — other countries and other people are mentioned there. We do not want to be involved in these processes and of course we would prefer that they do not contribute to already over-the-top Russophobic hysteria. We hope that wisdom will prevail some day.”

The Kremlin reaction comes as a Washington investigation into alleged Russian collusion with US President Donald Trump’s election campaign intensified Monday, first with the indictment of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former campaign official Rick Gates and then with the revelation that former campaign foreign-policy adviser, George Papadopoulos, pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI. Both Manafort and Gates pleaded not guilty.

When asked by CNN how he could say the indictment against Papadopolous did not relate to Russia, given that it mentioned contacts with the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs — through an intermediary — with the Trump campaign, Peskov told CNN, “This is like a meeting with the children of Lieutenant Schmidt,” referring to a fictional society of swindlers featured in a Russian satirical novel.

“This is a completely laughable accusation, a laughable statement, unqualified (statement), again, unfounded, unsubstantiated, and this is how we treat it,” he continued.

Peskov said that Moscow has consistently denied any involvement in attempts to interfere in the US elections since allegations were first brought to the attention of Russian officials.

“Any accusation that has been put forward in some internal US investigation against US citizens has nothing to do with us. This is an internal affair of the United States,” he added.

Earlier on Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov described accusations of Moscow meddling in elections, both in the United States and Europe, as “endless fantasies.”

Speaking at a meeting of the Association of European Businesses in Moscow, Lavrov said there is not “a single piece of evidence” that Russia intervened in elections in Western countries, including the US.

Lavrov also confirmed Tuesday that French President Emmanuel Macron has accepted an invitation to visit Moscow in 2018, according to the state-run news agency Interfax.

Russia appeared to support far-right candidate Marine Le Pen in May’s French presidential election. Macron won a resounding victory against her.