Putin rejects possibility of extraditing individuals accused of interfering in elections to the US

Commenting on accusations by the United States against thirteen Russian citizens of interference in the US elections in 2016, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia would never "extradite" its citizens to the United States. He spoke about this during an interview with NBC News. The television channel published yet another excerpt from this conversation on March 4.

"Never, never. Russia does not extradite its citizens to anyone, just like the United States," the President said in response to a question regarding the extradition of the individuals. At the same time, the politician did not deny that Russian nationals could have been involved in the "Russian cause". More important, however, the President stressed, is that these people did not represent the government of Russia.

"I know that they do not represent the Russian state, the Russian authorities. What they did specifically, I have no idea," Putin said. "Even if they did do something, then simply our…maybe it’s just our American colleagues [who talk about it]," he added, noting that, in his opinion, they should “just not talk to the press" but rather with Russian officials. "Let them provide some materials, specifics and data [on this case]. We will be prepared to look at them and talk about it," the president concluded.

In an earlier interview with NBC News, the Russian president also noted that before the official accusations against the Russians were published, US officials had to send a request to the Russian Prosecutor General's Office. "Give us this document," Putin demanded, emphasizing that such statements should be transmitted "through official channels, and not go through the press and with cries in the US Congress."

Three Russian companies (the Internet Research Agency also known as the "troll factory"; Concord Management; and Concord Catering) and thirteen Russian individuals, including businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, face charges of interference in the US elections. The US Department of Justice released the names of the accused on February 16. On the same day, a relevant report signed by US Special Prosecutor for "Russian affairs" Robert Mueller was published on the Department's website.

The document described in detail the working methods of these companies and actions of these individuals, which, according to the US prosecutors, "were aimed at influencing the results of the US elections." To do this, according to the report, the accused parties created social media accounts as Americans, bought political advertisements on Facebook and YouTube, and organized rallies - both in favor of President Donald Trump, who won the presidential election, and in support of his main rival in the election race, Hillary Clinton.

The Department of Justice additionally claimed that the Russian citizens charged in the report also visited the US "for data collection." During these trips, according to the Department, they communicated with Americans through electronic correspondence "to determine the strategy of their activities."

"Until we see the facts, everything else will be empty talk; I'm sorry for the not very diplomatic expression," Sergei Lavrov, head of the Russian Foreign Ministry, commented earlier.

  interference in elections, Russia, Putin, USA, US Elections