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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned American diplomats in Russia to not ‘meddle’ in the upcoming Septermber municipal elections and the 2018 presidential election. He made the comments while speaking to children at the Russian Educational Youth Forum dubbed Terra Scientia on the Klyazma on Friday.
“I am unaware of the US Embassy’s plans, but there were many incidents when American diplomats were involved in illegal activities. Our relevant services should take appropriate measures,” Lavrov said.
According to Russia’s top diplomat, many Russian citizens are working at the US Embassy. In accordance with the Vienna Convention, the US Embassy staff hired in Russia can only perform technical work (working as drivers, typists or stenographers) and cannot be involved in “diplomatic activities, including the political aspects,” reports Russian state news agency TASS.
“However, it was not uncommon for US Embassy’s hired staff members to travel to various regions, conduct opinion polls asking people what they thought about a governor and the federal center. In such situations, we politely ask our American counterparts to terminate these people’s contracts.”
“I believe this is in line with the American traditions. They probably do not consider this to be meddling, because they are allowed to do anything, and that’s in their blood. I hope that after all these unsubstantiated accusations against us ]regarding the alleged meddling in the US presidential election – TASS], because they failed to provide hard facts within 10 months, the acuteness of the issue for the American establishment will make them think twice…However, if this happens, we have our own laws, the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, which says explicitly and specifically what diplomats can do and what they cannot do…We will be guided by it and by our laws.”
Russia has consistently denied hacking or ‘meddling’ in the 2016 American elections. However, Russian President Vladimir Putin did say that some Russian ‘patriots’ may have taken it upon themselves to do so. The Kremlin frequently uses third parties to implement policy where they want ‘plausible deniability.’
The Kremlin also accused Hillary Clinton, acting of U.S. Secretary of State, of attempting to unseat Putin in the Russian 2012 elections. Many analysts believe this was the reason for possible Kremlin actions against the Clinton candidacy in 2016, not an attempt to get Trump elected.