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Sunday 22 October 2017

Kremlin: Trump phone tapping claims 'domestic issue'

There are signs in the Russian media that its infatuation with Mr Trump is waning (AP)
There are signs in the Russian media that its infatuation with Mr Trump is waning (AP)

Claims by US president Donald Trump that his phones were tapped by his predecessor, Barack Obama, during the 2016 election campaign are a purely domestic matter for the United States, Vladimir Putin's spokesman said.

The claim came amid revelations about contacts between Mr Trump's aides and Russia's ambassador to the US, during and after an election which US intelligence agencies allege Russia meddled with.

When asked about Mr Trump's allegations, made without evidence on Twitter, the Russian president's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that the Kremlin "should not be in any way linked to U S domestic issues" and "doesn't have the slightest inclination or intention to be associated with these affairs".

In the past, Russian officials have come to Mr Trump's defence, decrying his opponents for resisting efforts to improve relations between Washington and Moscow.

Mr Trump has been dogged for months by questions about his campaign's ties to Russia. Disclosures about contacts with Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak cost Michael Flynn his job as national security adviser.

Mr Flynn's resignation became a watershed moment for Russian officials. State media in recent weeks has switched from detailed coverage of Mr Trump to largely ignoring the US turmoil around his perceived ties to Russia.

State media last week also ignored questions surrounding US attorney general Jeff Sessions' contacts with Mr Kislyak.

In a two-hour programme on the state-controlled Rossiya channel, commentator Dmitry Kiselyov blamed the mainstream US media for not allowing Mr Trump to talk about improving ties with Russia.

"We're witnessing a massive battle in the US right now: the oligarch media against the US president and his new administration," he said.

"He is afraid not just to raise his head and talk about Russia - he's afraid to utter the very word, and for the members of his team any mention of Russia is a high political risk."

Mr Kiselyov also suggested that "intransigent radical liberals" who oppose Donald Trump are "plotting a revolution" against the US president.

Popular publications also indicated that Russia's infatuation with Mr Trump is waning.

An opinion piece in Monday's Moskovsky Komsomolets by Vladimir Solovyov, a co-author on a book on Mr Trump, was accompanied by an illustration of the US leader's shadow stealing the torch from the Statue of Liberty and leaving behind a red nose on her face.

Mr Solovyov decried Mr Trump's opponents, but also criticised the president for branding leading media outlets as "enemies of the people".

He wrote: "A democratically elected president has to look for compromise with enemies and govern together with the opposition. Political solitude - this is what is looming and threatening the president."

Press Association

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