Putin says US gripped by fabricated spymania

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MOSCOW (Agencies) – Russian President Vladimir Putin said yesterday the United States was in the grip of a fabricated spymania whipped up by President Donald Trump’s opponents.

Mr Putin said those opposing Mr Trump made up allegations of Russian interference in last year’s US elections to discredit him.

“All this was made up by people who are opposed to Trump so as to delegitimise his work,” the Russian president said in response to a question about the allegations.

Mr Putin said representatives of the Russian government had met with Mr Trump’s team but said this was normal diplomatic practice.

“Our ambassador was accused of meeting with someone, but this is normal practice worldwide,” the president said. “What is so transgressive in this case and why should it take on this spy-thriller tone?”

Mr Trump took office in January, saying he was keen to mend ties which had fallen to a post-Cold War low. But since then, ties have soured further after US officials said Russia meddled in the presidential election, something Moscow denies.

Congress is also investigating alleged contacts between the Trump election campaign and Russian officials amid fears that Moscow may have been trying to exercise improper influence.

Mr Putin, who had hoped Mr Trump’s stated desire for better ties with Russia would become reality only to see it frustrated by allegations of Russian political meddling, also praised the US president for what he said were his uncontested achievements.

“I’m not the one to evaluate the (US) president’s work. That needs to be done by the voters, the American people,” Mr Putin told his annual news conference in Moscow, in answer to a question.

“(But) we are objectively seeing that there have been some major accomplishments, even in the short time he has been working.”

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