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Kremlin: US sanctions move attempt to influence Russia elections

A participant wears a mask, depicting Russian President Vladimir Putin, during a rally, held by supporters of opposition leader Alexei Navalny for a boycott of a March 18 presidential election

The Kremlin said on Monday that a new US sanctions report expected to be released imminently was an attempt to influence Russia’s presidential election in March, but predicted it would fail to impact the vote.

The United States could release reports as early as Monday detailing the possibilities for expanding sanctions against Russia, including a list of oligarchs and potential restrictions on the holding of Russian government debt.

Moscow and Washington remain at odds over US allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, something Russia denies, as well as over conflicts in Ukraine and Syria.

It is not clear whether the US reports will definitely trigger new sanctions, but Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call that Russia regarded them as an unfriendly attempt to sway the March presidential election.

“We do think this is a direct and obvious attempt timed to coincide with the elections in order to influence them,” said Peskov. “We do not agree with this and are convinced that there will be no influence.”

Russia holds a presidential election on March 18, which opinion polls show incumbent Vladimir Putin should easily win.

“The publication of this list on its own doesn’t mean anything,” said Peskov. “It isn’t the start of a new sanctions wave. So we will have to analyse what will happen next.”

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