On February 16, the 37-page Mueller indictment on Russia's meddling in the U.S. presidential election was released. In the document, special counsel Robert Mueller names 13 Russians, 12 of them working for the Internet Research Agency, "a Russian organization engaged in operations to interfere with elections and political processes." The indictment also accuses Russian businessman and restaurateur Yevgeny Prigozhin, known as the "Kremlin's cook", of being the main financier of the entire operation. The documents also asserts that by September 2016, the monthly budget exceeded 73 million Russian rubles (over 1.250,000 U.S. dollars), including approximately one million rubles in bonus payments.
What follows is an overview of reactions to the Mueller indictment:
Robert Mueller (Source: Gazeta.ru)
Prigozhin: 'I'm Not At All Upset That I'm On That List'
Yevgeny Prigozhin, indicted under the accusation of supporting the troll factory, said:
"Americans are very impressionable people, they see what they want to see. I have great respect for them. I'm not at all upset that I'm on that list. If they want to see the devil, let them see."
(Ria.ru, February 16, 2018)
Kremlin Spokesperson Peskov: No Proof That Russia Meddles In The U.S. Elections
Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov commented: "We still insist that this evidence has no grounds and we don’t consider it overwhelming, we don’t regard it as fair and cannot agree with it… Russia has neither meddled, nor does it have a practice of interfering in the domestic affairs of other states and does not do so now. First, we haven’t seen any significant evidence so far that someone has meddled in America’s domestic affairs. Second, the matter in question pertains to Russian citizens, but we have heard Washington accusing the Russian state, the Kremlin and the Russian government of being complicit. There have been no indications whatsoever that the Russian state could have been involved in this."
(Tass.com, February 19, 2018)
Russian MFA Spokesperson Zakharova: 13 People Against Billion-Dollar Budgets For Special Services? … Absurd? Yes"
Russian MFA Spokesperson Maria Zakharova wrote in her Facebook account:
"[Press] agencies are alerting: 'On Friday the U.S. Department of Justice published a document stating that 13 Russian citizens have been accused of meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections. All the indicted individuals are employees of the Internet Research Agency, based in St. Petersburg. They are accused of organizing pre-election demonstrations in the United States, paying for the participation of 'real Americans', and of the desire to discredit Clinton, Rubio and Cruz, to support Sanders and Trump...'
"I don't have the strength to read the rest.
"According to the U.S. Justice Department, it turns out that there were 13 of them. 13 people carried out the the intervention in the U.S elections?! 13 against billion-dollar budgets of special services? Against intelligence and counterintelligence, against the latest developments and technologies? Absurd? Yes. But this is contemporary American political reality. By the way, why 13? Apparently, other numbers have no bad connotations, but in this case they provide the best hope."
(Facebook.com/maria.zakharova.167, February 16, 2018)
Presidential Representative Krutskikh: These Are Childish Statements
Russia's special presidential representative for international cooperation in information security and Ambassador at Large of the Russian Federation, Andrey Krutskikh, stated:
"There have been no official complaints to us and no evidence. Therefore these are simply childish statements, without any backing. And as for the lists, this is a new trend of a bad American diplomacy: instead of discussing the burning issues of stabilization and safeguarding the security of the information space they present accusations against individuals and organizations. This is a tradition for the U.S. It’s surprising they still do not understand that this method is absolutely ineffective, and it can’t provide results neither for them nor for anyone else."
(Ria.ru, February 17, 2018)
State Duma Speaker Volodin: The U.S. Discourse About Russia Is Reminiscent Of The World Of The Absurd
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Russia’s State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin stated in an interview with the Swiss TV channel RTS: "This entire discourse about Russia is reminiscent of the world of the absurd and also signals that the U.S. political system is apparently in crisis… The party that lost the election [the Democrats] started accusing the Russian side of this instead of admitting its defeat." He then added that the decision by the US authorities can be explained in two ways: "Either we don’t know what the U.S. side knows about us or we are really that powerful." Volodin also stressed that it is doubtful that 13 people can influence the U.S. election.
(Tass.com, February19, 2018)
Chairman Of Duma Foreign Policy Committee Slutsky: The Accusations Are Part Of A Russophobe Campaign And Hysteria
The chairman of the State Duma foreign policy committee Leonid Slutsky (LDPR) opined:
"The accusations that 13 Russians interfered in the U.S. elections are obviously part of the Russophobic campaign and hysteria that are flourishing in Western society. For now all this is unfounded, it is absolutely ridiculous and sounds crazy… How could 13 people be able to really influence the free expression of America's more than 300 million strong population its huge state machine and billions of dollars invested in the elections?"
(Ria.ru, February 17, 2018)
MP Novikov: Even If There Was Any Evidence, It Would Be Meaningless Compared To The U.S. Interference In Other Countries' Affairs
The First Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee on International Affairs Dmitry Novikov (CPRF) stated:
"We are witnessing one more anti-Russian wave… All this has yet to be proved. For now it sounds quite unfounded … And even if some semblance of evidence was found, it's all childish prattle compared to how the United States interferes with the political processes in various countries, trying to influence the will of citizens."
(Ria.ru, February 16, 2018)
Senator Kosachev: It Would Be Funny If It Weren't Serious
Senator Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the Russian Federation Council International Affairs Committee, posted on his Facebook account:
"U.S. Special counsel Robert Muller prepared a 37-page document with detailed evidence of the intervention of 13 Russians in the American process of expression.
"Once again, to make things clearer: 13 unknown characters influenced the election of the president of the richest, strongest, most powerful country in the world with the primary standards of democracy.
"Can you imagine a more powerful PR for Russia, which in this case becomes the demiurge, the ruler of the world? For in response to the derisive comparisons of GDP, military capabilities, assets and alliances, it was enough to train 13 people to achieve its goals. If you count proportionally, then, say, it would take 4-5 people for Ukraine and not more than 10 people for Germany. Cheap and efficient.
"Well, of course, it would be funny had it not been reiterated in all seriousness over the entire world. However, from this we can conclude that the political class of the United States has a very low opinion, first, about their own people and, secondly, about their own democracy and its institutions. Anyway, either you need to recognize your people as weak-minded, or your 'revelations' of Russian influence as exaggerated, to put it mildly. Difficult choice, I do not envy my American colleagues."
(Facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002123135703, February 17, 2018)
Former Russian Ambassador To The U.S. Kislyak: 'I'm Not Sure I Can Trust The U.S. Law Enforcement Agencies'
The Russian Federation's former ambassador to the United States and the First Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council's International Affairs Committee, Sergey Kislyak, said:
"I'm not sure I can trust the U.S. law enforcement agencies as a reliable source of information on what Russia is doing."
(Tass.ru, February 17, 2018)
Speaking at the Munich Security Conference Kislyak said: "I've seen so many accusations and speculations about Russia in my lifetime, especially in recent years… This has undermined relations between our countries. We witnessed many accusations that were unfounded… As for my work as Russia's ambassador to the U.S., we as a government did not interfere in the political life of the U.S., I never did anything similar and neither did my embassy. Whatever charges are brought against us is pure fantasy that is motivated by internal politics."
(Ria.ru, February 17, 2018)
Senator Jabbarov: "Aren't They Ridiculing Themselves?"
First Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council's International Affairs Committee Vladimir Jabbarov said: "Don't they think it funny when they write such things? Totally unfamiliar faces, we barely heard of businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, sorry, but he has no political standing. Why would he do it? How could he influence the U.S. elections and in general on anyone?"
(Ria.ru, February 17, 2018)
Russia's FM Lavrov: 'Until We Have The Facts, Everything Else Is Bunk'
In a question and answer session at the Munich Security Conference, Russian FM Sergey Lavrov said:
Questions: "What can you say about the information published in the U.S. media yesterday to the effect that $1.25 million of the Russian taxpayers’ money was used on a monthly basis to try to influence the outcome of elections in the United States. Do you think the investment paid off?"
Lavrov: "I have nothing to say about this, because one can publish just about anything. We can see a growing number of accusations, allegations and statements. However, I also had the chance to read the statements by Assistant Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Jeanette Manfra, who denied reports that any particular country allegedly influenced the election results. As I understand, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said the same thing either here, or in one of the neighboring capitals. So, until we have the facts, everything else is bunk, pardon this most undiplomatic expression."
(Mid.ru, February 17, 2018)
Lavrov To Euronews: 'Democrats Are Still Unable To Recover From Their Defeat'
During an interview with Euronews channel, Lavrov also commented on the Mueller Indictment. Lavrov said:
"You know, the United States has a very specific political system. I worked there for a number of years. It’s not typical of the United States that not a single fact was leaked to the public during almost one and a half year of the investigation (this was Robert Mueller’s investigation plus Senate hearings, with dozens of people subpoenaed to appear for hearings and interrogations). Had there been even a small 'fire,' the smoke would have been seen at once. I think they simply have driven themselves into a corner by their statements about 'detailed' evidence regarding Russian interference and in retrospect are trying to find at least some excuses. But they are failing even in this.
"I really do hope that the dominant tendencies we are seeing in Washington will eventually peter out. As is clear, this is unlikely to happen before the mid-term elections in November of this year: they are preoccupied with a scramble for congressional seats and gubernatorial positions. It is also clear that the Democrats are still unable to recover from their defeat that proved a total surprise for them and are now using every opportunity to poison life for President Donald Trump and the entire Republican Party (but primarily for Donald Trump as a non-systemic leader). But I don’t think this is working as perfectly as they would like it to. For all the need to compromise, given the sentiments in Congress, President Trump is sticking to his guns. He has repeatedly confirmed his sincere desire to implement what he spoke about during his election campaign – to promote normal, mutually respectful, mutually beneficial and mutually advantageous relations with Russia."
(Mid.ru, February 16, 2018)
 See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 7164, Russian Media Outlet RBC Publishes Investigative Report: How The 'Troll Factory' Worked During The U.S. Election, November 6, 2017.
See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 7159, Former Employee Of Saint Petersburg 'Troll Factory': 'Our Goal Was To Set [The Americans] Against Their Own Government, To Provoke Unrest And Discontent', November 2, 2017.