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America ‘meddling in Russian affairs’
September 04, 2018
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MOSCOW: The Kremlin said on Monday the United States was “crudely” trying to recruit Russian nationals to act as its agents, adding that this showed Washington was meddling in Russian affairs.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was asked during a conference call to comment on a report in the New York Times which said the FBI and US Justice Department had tried unsuccessfully to recruit Russian aluminium tycoon Oleg Deripaska as an informer between 2014 and 2016.

“The fact is that the United States in recent years is working crudely using its intelligence services, trying to recruit Russian citizens, exerting moral and other pressure on them.... I think these incidents in the most eloquent manner testify to the attempts to interfere in Russia’s internal affairs,” Peskov said.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin rejected claims by French President Emmanuel Macron over the weekend that his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin wished to break up the European Union.

In an interview with the Swedish public broadcaster SVT, the French leader said: “I do respect Vladimir Putin...but (his) dream is a dismantling of the European Union.”

Spokesman Dmitry Peskov however told journalists the Russian president was in fact working to develop ties with member states and strengthen the union.

“With regards to respect, the president answers in kind. He has developed a very constructive working relationship, and good personal relationship (with Macron),” Peskov said.

“In terms of Putin’s relationship towards the EU, we unfortunately must argue that it is not Russia’s doing if this relationship is in rather a chilly situation,” he added.

“It is in our interests that the EU is prosperous and stable. President Putin has made this approach clear on several occasions and there is no plan to change it.”

Macron and Putin last met during the World Cup in Russia this summer when France won the tournament.

Also on Monday, Kremlin-controlled television has launched a new weekly show dedicated to Putin in an apparent attempt to stem a major fall in his approval ratings.

The first episode, which aired on Sunday on the Rossiya 1 channel, showed the long-serving leader picking mushrooms in Siberia and in meetings with miners and schoolchildren.

The president already dominates state news bulletins but Rossiya 1’s hour-long show “Moscow. Kremlin. Putin” provides a new format to showcase his activities.

The previously unannounced show comes as Putin faces a record fall in his approval ratings as a result of a deeply unpopular pension reform that saw thousands of Russians take to the streets in protest.

“This is the project of (state TV company) VGTRK, not the Kremlin’s,” Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday. “It is important for us that information about the president and his work schedule is shown correctly and without distortion,” he said.

Peskov added that Putin himself does not plan to take part in the programme.

But Peskov did take part in the first episode, interviewed by pro-Kremlin presenter Vladimir Solovyev, and praised Putin’s personal and professional achievements.

“Putin not only likes children, he likes people in general. He’s a very human person,” the spokesman told viewers.

Much of the programme hailed Putin’s stance on the controversial pension reform, Russia’s top news story for weeks.

Last week Putin proposed measures to soften the reform in a rare televised address — suggesting raising the state pension for women by five years instead of eight — but he stuck to the overall government plan.


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