The Russian Foreign Ministry released a statement on Friday saying there is no evidence that the 12 people indicted by the office of US special counsel Robert Mueller are linked to Russian military intelligence.
The statement, released by the ministry’s Information and Press Department, claims the goal of the Friday indictments is to damage the “positive mood” of the upcoming Helsinki meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump, scheduled for July 16.
The new indictments are a “shameful farce,” Moscow said. “Obviously, the goal of this ‘mud-slinging’ is to spoil the atmosphere before the Russian-American summit.”
US Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein stated in an early Friday news conference that 12 Russian intelligence officers had been indicted for their alleged interference in the 2016 US presidential election.
“The indictment charges 12 Russian military officers by name,” Rosenstein told reporters. “According to the allegations in the indictment, the defendants work for two units of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Russian General Staff known as the GRU.”
Charges include creating fake online accounts, conspiring to hack organizations involved in administering elections, hacking the Democratic National Committee and then releasing documents to interfere in the US election and using malware to steal passwords and other information. Rosenstein went on to note that the accused used DC Leaks and Guccifer 2.0 to extract and disseminate the information under the direction of GRU.
Since the beginning of the Mueller investigation into alleged Russian interference in the US presidential election and allegations of collusion between Donald Trump’s campaign and Moscow, some 32 people have been indicted. Among them are former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, former national security adviser Michael Flynn and short-lived Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. However, the majority of the charges relate to financial crimes and coverups, most occurring prior to the election, rather than having anything to do with the 2016 presidential campaign.