Russia is accusing the United States of direct interference in its upcoming presidential elections.


Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova on Wednesday rejected U.S. criticism over opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s blocked presidential bid, saying it amounted to “meddling in the Russian elections.”

“This statement by the U.S. Department of State, which I’m sure will not be the only one, is a direct interference into the electoral process and the state’s domestic affairs,” Zakharova said in comments carried by state-owned TASS news agency.

A State Department spokesman expressed concern over the “restrictions on independent voices” in response to the vote by Russia’s top electoral body to formally bar Navalny from participating in the 2018 presidential election.

“The funniest thing about it is that this statement was made by the same people who put the foreign agent label on RT and Sputnik, persecuted Russian media worldwide and invested vast sums in ‘countering Russian propaganda,'” Zakharova said.

In the wake of President Trump’s surprise electoral victory last year, the U.S. intelligence community said Russia interfered in the election to back its preferred candidate. Several investigations have been opened with regards to election-meddling, including one probing collusion between the Trump administration and Moscow.

‘Terribly scared’

In response to the electoral ban, Navalny called on his supporters to boycott the presidential election, saying Russian President Vladimir Putin “is terribly scared and is afraid of running against me.”

On Tuesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Navalny’s “calls for boycott ought to be carefully studied to see if…