Putin says allegations of Russian interference in US election are 'provocations and lies'

Tom Porter

Russian President Vladimir Putin has described allegations the country manipulated the US presidential election as "fictional, illusory, provocations and lies."

Asked whether Russia interfered in the US election which saw Donald Trump claim victory, Putin replied: "Read my lips: No." He was speaking on a panel in the Russian city of Archangel.

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His comments come as the US Senate Intelligence Committee is investigating alleged Russian interference in the election, with public hearings beginning on Thursday 30 March.

The panel's ranking Democrat Mark Warner and his Republican counterpart Richard Burr have vowed a thorough inquiry.

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Among members of Trump's team who will be interviewed is his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who is also a key adviser.

The FBI and the House Intelligence committee are also investigating the allegations of ties between members of Trump's campaign and transitional teams and Russian officials.

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In October, the White House declared that Russia was behind a campaign that saw Democratic Party email servers hacked and private emails leaked.

US intelligence agencies have concluded that Putin personally ordered an "influence campaign" aimed at damaging the candidacy of Trump's presidential rival, Democrat Hilary Clinton.

On Thursday, the BBC reported that the FBI had verified a key claim in a notorious dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele, alleging that Russia had cultivated extensive ties with members of Trump's circle, and had information it could use to blackmail the president.

According to US intelligence sources, a Russian diplomat allegedly closely involved in the US elections operation was in fact a spy, as the report alleges.

Trump has previously denied that Russia had any involvement with Democratic Party hacks, then conceded Russia was likely behind them. He has dismissed the dossier reports as "fake news."

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