Russia: Kremlin Claims Foreign Enemies are Preparing 'Information Attack' on Putin
The Kremlin has claimed an "information attack" is being prepared against Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin, for a series of stories aimed at tainting his reputation ahead of upcoming elections, the Agence France-Presse (AFP) said.
"Some public organizations, non-governmental organizations, security services of foreign countries and certain media have joined an election campaign in our country before the start of said campaign", Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told AFP.
He accused NGOs and media of continuously "rock[ing] the boat" in Russia, discrediting Putin in order to influence the country.
Peskov said the Kremlin received friendly requests for information from a global journalism network, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), the Moscow Times reported. The requests involved inquiries into Putin's family, childhood friends and “businessmen Kovalchuk and Rotenberg, some offshore companies, entrepreneurs that Putin has never met.”
Peskov also claimed the ICIJ included members of various security services, according to AFP.
Russian news agency TASS contacted the ICIJ, whose director, Gerard Ryle, said, "Yes, we are the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, and we have requested comments from the Russian authorities as part of the ongoing investigation. We will publish shortly."
Ryle would not reveal any further details, TASS said.
Peskov's claims mirror earlier statements by Putin himself, who said in February that Russia's enemies abroad were already getting ready to interfere with the 2016 elections, urging the security service to suppress any attempts at foreign influence, the BBC wrote.
Russia is to hold parliamentary elections in September this year. Critics are concerned the elections might be manipulated by the Kremlin with few opposition candidates allowed to run, AFP said.
Following Russia's regional elections in September last year, election watchdogs recorded more than 1,500 violations, according to Golos, a Russian organization that promotes fair voting.