October 12, 2016 - 2:43 PM
MOSCOW - Russian officials have once more vigorously rejected accusations of meddling in the U.S. presidential elections and dismissed allegations that Moscow was behind a series of recent hacks on U.S. institutions.
In an interview with television network CNN Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov dismissed the U.S. claims of Russian interference as "ridiculous" and said they have been totally unproven.
"It's flattering, of course, to get this kind of attention — for a regional power, as President Obama called us some time ago," Lavrov said. "Now everybody in the United States is saying that it is Russia which is running the (U.S.) presidential debate."
However, he added that "We have not seen a single fact, a single proof" that Russia was behind the hacks.
The U.S. last week accused Russia of co-ordinating the theft and disclosure of emails from the Democratic National Committee and other institutions and individuals in the U.S. to influence the outcome of the election.
President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters Wednesday that such claims were "absurd." Russia remains committed to efforts to combat cyberterrorism, Peskov said.
Pressed with questions about the hacking allegations in the CNN interview, Lavrov responded, by saying: "No, we didn't deny this. They didn't prove it."
He added that he was putting himself "in the shoes of the American politicians" and assuming that there should be a "presumption of innocence" until the U.S. produces evidence of Russian involvement.
In response to a question about the U.S. threat to respond in a "proportional way," Lavrov said it wasn't worth speculating about.
"If they decided to do something, let them do it. But to say that Russia is interfering in the United States' domestic matters is ridiculous."
Asked to comment about the recently surfaced video showing Republican candidate Donald Trump talking lewdly about women, Lavrov said that since English wasn't his native language, he was unsure if his response would sound decent.
"There are so many p-----s around your presidential campaign on both sides that I prefer not to comment about this," he then added, referring to the same vulgar term for a woman's genitals that Trump used.
This story has been corrected from an earlier version to show that first name of Putin's spokesman is Dmitry, not Vladimir.
News from © The Associated Press, 2016