Putin rejects claims of interference in US election
President Vladimir Putin yesterday dismissed claims that Russia is interfering in the United States presidential election, saying the allegations are designed to distract the public from real issues.
The United States has accused Russia of coordinating the hacks of Hillary Clinton's campaign emails to influence the outcome of the election.
Speaking to international foreign policy experts in Sochi, Putin dismissed "the hysteria about Russia's influence on the US presidential election."
He argued that US elites have used the "fictitious and mythical" issue to distract attention from real problems such as government debt and police violence.
"Does anyone seriously think Russia can somehow influence the American people's choice?" Putin said. "Is America some kind of banana republic? America is a great power!"
He called the claim that Russia favours Donald Trump in the race as "sheer nonsense" that has served as a campaign tool.
Putin added that it is not clear what stance the next US president will take towards Russia, but added that Moscow welcomes campaign statements about normalising ties.
"We will work with any president who will be elected by the American people," he said.
Putin also asserted that the rise of popularity of nationalist parties in Europe was rooted in a widening gap between elites and the regular citizens, not the influence of Russian propaganda as many in the West have suggested.
"I would like to have such propaganda machine in Russia, but, regrettably, there is no such thing," Putin said with a note of sarcasm. "We don't have such global media as CNN, BBC and others."
He also shrugged off allegations that Russia harbours aggressive military intentions in Europe.
"Of course, it's quite pleasant and sometimes advantageous to cast oneself as a defender of civilisation from some kind of new barbarians, but Russia has no intention to attack anyone," Putin said. "It's plain ridiculous."
Russia-West relations have plummeted to their lowest point since the Cold War era amid the Ukrainian crisis and differences over the war in Syria.