Vladimir Putin suggests Jews and other minorities in Russia could be behind US election meddling

'Maybe they're Ukrainians, Tatars, Jews, just with Russian citizenship,' the Kremlin leader said

Jeff Farrell
Saturday 10 March 2018 18:42
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Vladimir Putin says Russian meddling in US election could have been 'Jews or Ukrainians'

Russian President Vladimir Putin has suggested Jews and other minorities in Russia, including Tatars and Ukranians, could be to blame for meddling in the US presidential election.

“Maybe they’re not even Russians,” he told NBC News. “Maybe they’re Ukrainians, Tatars, Jews, just with Russian citizenship. Even that needs to be checked.”

The Independent contacted Jewish organisations both in Britain and the US for comment. None responded at the time of publication.

The CIA concluded that Moscow interfered in the 2016 presidential election – leaking hacked Democratic communications and flooding social media with misinformation.

Last month, the FBI charged 13 Russians and three companies for running what it claims was a cyber warfare movement based in the Russian city of St Petersburg.

But Mr Putin said he “couldn’t care less” if they were Russians.

“So what if they’re Russians?” he said. “There are 146 million Russians. So what?”

He added: “They do not represent the interests of the Russian state. Maybe they have dual citizenship. Or maybe a green card. Maybe it was the Americans who paid them for this work. How do you know? I don’t know.”

Mr Putin said that even if the FBI investigation found that the Russian nationals and companies were guilty of meddling in the US elections, it may not amount to a crime in Russia.

“We in Russia cannot prosecute anyone as long as they have not violated Russian law,” he said. “Give us an official request. And we’ll take a look at it.”

Mr Trump himself has dismissed the claims his campaign colluded with Moscow, and added that if it had it would not have amounted to a crime.

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