United States was in grip of spymania whipped by Trump opponents: Putin

Vastavam web: Russian President Vladimir Putin said the United States was in the grip of a fabricated spymania whipped up by President Donald Trump’s opponents but he thought battered U.S.-Russia relations would recover one day.“I‘m not the one to evaluate the president’s work. That needs to be done by the voters, the American people,” Putin told his annual news conference in Moscow, in answer to a question.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 U.S. intelligence 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 allegations that Moscow may have tried to exercise improper influence.“This is all invented by people who oppose Trump to give his work an illegitimate character. The people who do this are dealing a blow to the state of (U.S.) domestic politics,” he added, saying the accusations were disrespectful to U.S. voters.

Moscow understood that Trump’s scope for improving ties with Russia was limited by the scandal, said Putin, but remained keen to try to improve relations.Washington and Moscow had many common interests, he said, citing the Middle East, North Korea, international terrorism, environmental problems and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.However, Putin lashed out at U.S. policy on North Korea, warning a U.S. strike there would have catastrophic consequences.

In one of the most dramatic moments of the news conference, Ksenia Sobchak, a TV personality who has said she plans to run against Putin in a presidential election in March, asked him about what she said was the lack of political competition.Putin, who polls suggest will be comfortably re-elected, warned that candidates like Navalny would destabilise Russia and usher in chaos if elected.“Do you want attempted coups d‘etat? We’ve lived through all that. Do you really want to go back to all that? I am sure that the overwhelming majority of Russian citizens do not want this.”Navalny, commenting on social media, said Putin’s response showed that barring him from taking part in next year’s presidential election was “a political decision.”

“It’s like he’s saying we’re in power and we’ve decided that it (Navalny running) is a bad idea,” Navalny said.Putin named as priority issues nurturing a high-tech economy, improving infrastructure, healthcare, education and productivity and increasing people’s real incomes.