Kremlin says no evidence behind US indictment of Russians for alleged meddling in presidential polls

Moscow response came after the US Special Counsel Robert Mueller office has charged 13 Russians and 3 Russian firms in the 2016 US polls.

Kremlin says no evidence behind US indictment of Russians for alleged meddling in presidential polls

Moscow: No evidence is behind the US indictment of Russian nationals for alleged election interference and Moscow has given multiple explanations on what Washington called "Russian meddling efforts", news agency RIA cited the Russian presidential envoy as saying on Saturday.

The Putin administration response came after, the US Special Counsel Robert Mueller office has charged 13 Russians and three Russian companies, including the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency, known for its trolling on social media.The official who oversees Mueller's work said the investigation was not finished.

The court document said those accused "had a strategic goal to sow discord in the US political system, including the 2016 US presidential election."

The indictment said Russians adopted false online personas to push divisive messages; travelled to the United States to collect intelligence, visiting 10 states; and staged political rallies while posing as Americans. 

In one case, it said, the Russians paid an unidentified person to build a cage aboard a flatbed truck and another to wear a costume "portraying Clinton in a prison uniform."

The surprise 37-page indictment could alter the divisive US domestic debate over Russia's meddling, undercutting some Republicans who, along with Trump, have attacked Mueller's investigation.

"These Russians engaged in a sinister and systematic attack on our political system. It was a conspiracy to subvert the process, and take aim at democracy itself," said Paul Ryan, Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives.

The indictment is silent on the question of whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Kremlin, which Mueller is investigating.

In a tweet on Friday, Trump gave his most direct acknowledgement that Russia had meddled in the election, which he has frequently disputed.

"Russia started their anti-US campaign in 2014, long before I announced that I would run for President. The results of the election were not impacted. The Trump campaign did nothing wrong - no collusion!" Trump wrote.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova denounced the allegations as "absurd" and ridiculed the notion that so few Russian nationals could undermine US democracy. "13 against the billions' budgets of the secret services?" she asked in a Facebook post.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov declined to comment on Saturday on the US indictments, telling a security conference in Munich that US Vice-President Michael Pence and others had raised questions about the investigation.

"You may publish anything you want to. So until we see the facts, everything else is just blather," Lavrov said.

The accused Russians are unlikely to be arrested or appear in a US court on the charges, which include conspiracy to defraud the United States, wire fraud, bank fraud and identity theft, as there is no extradition treaty between the United States and Russia. 

(With agency inputs)