Jews with Russian citizenship could have been behind interference in the 2016 US presidential election, President Vladimir Putin said.
In an interview with NBC News broadcast on Friday, Putin said that he “could not care less” about indictments issued by US Special Counsel Robert Mueller accusing Russian nationals and companies of election interference, stating that “they do not represent the interests of the Russian state” and are unrelated to the Kremlin.
“Maybe they’re not even Russians,” said Putin. “Maybe they’re Ukrainians, Tatars, Jews, just with Russian citizenship, even that needs to be checked.”
MKs Ksenia Svetlova and Dr. Nachman Shai (Zionist Union) called on the Israeli government to condemn Putin’s remarks.
“Maybe the Jews interfered in the American elections, maybe the Jews control the world, maybe Jews slaughtered the Jews in Poland. For all those allegations, there is one origin: Jew-hatred,” said Svetlova. “I expect the Israeli government to come out strongly against these serious remarks made by the Russian president. If Israel won’t defend the Jews, nobody will do so in its place.”
“This is the worst form of antisemitism,” said Shai. “[Putin’s] comments demonstrate that nothing has changed in the perception of Jews as those responsible for the ‘world’s evil.’ A strong response is required from the Israeli government.
“I would expect Jewish organizations to join and condemn these serious remarks. They also carry responsibility for the fate of the Jewish people, whoever and wherever they are,” he added.
President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that there was interference by Russia and probably by other countries in the 2016 election, and the United States would counteract any attempt at meddling in the November 2018 midterm elections.
“Well, the Russians had no impact on our votes whatsoever, but certainly there was meddling and probably there was meddling from other countries and maybe other individuals,” Trump said at a joint news conference with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven.
“We’re doing a very, very deep study and we’re coming with some... very strong suggestions on the 2018 election... We’ll counteract whatever they do, we’ll counteract it very strongly,” Trump said.
Last week, Putin told Washington to send him hard evidence that his citizens meddled in US elections, mocking accusations to date as “yelling and hollering in the United States Congress.”
“I have to see first what they’ve done. Give us materials, give us information,” Putin said in another excerpt from the interview with NBC, according to an English voice-over of his words.
“We cannot respond to that if they do not violate Russian laws,” Putin told NBC’s Megyn Kelly, when asked whether Moscow would take action against the named individuals.
Kelly listed some of the accusations of Russian interference made by Mueller’s office and other US officials, including the spreading of false information online.
“With all due respect for you personally, with all due respect for Congress, you must have people with legal degrees, 100% you do,” Putin said smiling.
He said US authorities should send Russia’s general prosecutor an official request.
“This has to go through official channels, not through the press or yelling and hollering in the United States Congress,” Putin said.
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