Russia has officially informed the US that American diplomats will not be allowed to monitor the country’s future elections in a tit-for-tat move.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Tuesday that Russia had notified the US Embassy in Moscow a few days ago, telling it not to count on the presence of American diplomats at the elections.
The move comes in reaction to the US obstruction of Russian diplomats seeking to observe Tuesday’s presidential election in the United States for possible violations.
“The US administration’s law enforcement officials stop at nothing to cut off Russian representatives from an opportunity to assess the provisions of holding the upcoming elections,” Ryabkov said.
He cited the direct pressure applied on Russian diplomats by the FBI as an example of such incidents.
Last month, the Russian Embassy in Washington said it was “baffled” by how the US government was responding to its requests to send observers to US polling stations.
“Overall, we are disappointed with the reaction of the US administration and on top of that with the unfriendly way it is currently portraying our desire to pursue normal diplomatic work in respectful contact with the authorities of the host country, which we hoped for,” the embassy said.
A Russian election official suggested that the US obstructed Moscow’s attempts to observe the November elections because “they see them as a threat.”
The row comes amid tensions between Moscow and Washington over claims that Russia has been trying to undermine the US elections through cyber attacks, possibly in favor of Republican nominee Donald Trump.
Trump has come under fire for his stances on Russia and his refusal to acknowledge the US intelligence community’s allegation hat the Russian government was behind the hack of US political organizations including the Democratic National Committee.
The real estate mogul has also repeatedly warned that the upcoming election is being “rigged,” and called on his supporters to watch for fraud at polling places.