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Russia denies US claim it used ‘trolling’ to stir Chile tensions

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Agence France-Presse

Russia on Friday denied accusations from the United States that it used online trolling to stir up tensions in Chile where more than 20 people have died in civil unrest.

“The US administration is using the complex internal situation in Chile to continue its attempts to smear our country’s foreign policy,” deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov told Interfax news agency.

The Russian diplomat spoke after a senior US State Department official, speaking to journalists on condition of anonymity, on Thursday accused Russia of seizing on the debate in Chile “and skewing it through the use and abuse of social media — trolling.”

Ryabkov stressed: “We’ve never interfered, we don’t interfere and we won’t interfere in any matters of electoral or other domestic policy, wherever they may be.”

Russia “treats the sovereignty of any country with respect,” Ryabkov said.

“I’m sure that the Chilean politicians, Chilean public, understand this very well and the ill-intentioned intrigues of the US will not lead to the result Washington desires,” he added.

The White House alluded to a foreign hand in a statement on President Donald Trump’s call to his Chilean counterpart Sebastian Pinera, who on Wednesday cancelled a major summit of Pacific Rim powers as well as a climate change conference over the upheaval.

“President Trump denounced foreign efforts to undermine Chilean institutions, democracy or society,” the White House said.

Twenty people have been confirmed killed in the unrest. Chilean prosecutors said Wednesday they were investigating a total of 23 deaths thought to be linked to the crisis.

US relations with Moscow have deteriorated to some of their lowest levels since the Cold War over allegations of Russian meddling in US politics that Moscow strongly denies.

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