Sobchak Says Russian Election Meddling 'Unacceptable'
RFE/RL February 09, 2018
Russian presidential candidate Ksenia Sobchak says it appears that Moscow meddled in the U.S. presidential election in 2016, and called any such interference "unacceptable."
Sobchak, who has raised eyebrows by making a lengthy trip to the United States weeks ahead of the March 18 election in Russia, spoke in an interview with CNN that was broadcast on February 8.
"It sounds [like] we really had something to do with it. If that's so, I want to say sorry," Sobchak told CNN's Christiane Amanpour.
"It's unacceptable for any country to meddle into the affairs of another country," she said.
In January 2017, U.S. intelligence agencies said they had determined that Russian President Vladimir Putin "ordered an influence campaign" targeting the 2016 U.S. election, with goals including undermining faith in the U.S. democratic process, discrediting Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, and improving the victory chances of the eventual winner, Donald Trump.
The U.S. Justice Department and three congressional panels are investigating the alleged meddling and whether associates of Trump, who won the election, colluded with Russia.
Putin denies that Russia meddled, despite the evidence, and President Trump denies there was any collusion.
'Message For America'
Sobchak is a journalist and TV personality whose late father, Anatoly, was Putin's boss and mentor for a time in the 1990s. She was formally registered on February 8 as a candidate in the Russian election, and will be one of eight on the ballot in the vote in which Putin appears certain to secure a new six-year term in Russia's tightly controlled political system.
Critics accuse her of aiding what they say is a Kremlin effort to make the election appear competitive and democratic.
Opposition politician Aleksei Navalny, a vocal critic of Putin, has been barred from running because of a criminal conviction that he contends was the result of fabricated evidence. He has called on Russians to boycott the vote, which he has condemned as Putin's "reappointment."
Sobchak rejected the criticism and reiterated her opposition to a boycott.
"If [Navalny] would be accepted as a candidate by [the] Kremlin, wouldn't it [legitimize] Putin as well? And then would he call people to boycott? Of course, no," Sobchak said, speaking English. "He would tell people, 'Go and vote for me, let's show that, okay, we cannot win but millions of us are against Putin.'"
Putin has been prime minister or president since 1999.
At the end of the interview, Sobchak said she had a "message for America" -- that seeking to isolate Russia was a bad idea.
"My message is that the position that Russia should be kept out is a bad message. Because when you try to destabilize the situation in such a big country with nuclear weapons, it won't do any good for anyone," she said.
With reporting by CNN
Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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