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Russia says accusations it hacked the Democrats are paranoia

The Kremlin's spokesman said Americans were playing "the Russia card." Foreign minister Lavrov was a bit more colorful when asked if Russians had stolen Democratic emails.

by Kayla Ruble
Jul 26 2016, 8:10pm

Vladimir Putin incontra John Kerry al Cremlino il 14 luglio. (Foto di Sputnik Photo Agency/Reuters)

It didn't take long for the blame to fall on Russian intelligence after Wikileaks released 20,000 damning emails hacked from the Democratic National Committee's computer system.

The campaign for Democratic party candidate Hillary Clinton quickly pointed fingers at Russia for the email scandal that broke Friday, just three days before the Democratic convention kicked off in Philadelphia. But Russian officials have firmly denied any involvement and are even accusing American politicians of blaming Russia as a campaign ploy.

The most colorful response from a top Russian official so far has come on Tuesday, when Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov spoke about the matter just before a meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Laos. When a journalist asked Russia's top diplomat about the accusations that his government hacked the DNC to hurt Clinton, Lavrov said, "I don't want to use four-letter words."

Kerry later said he did not make explicit accusations, but explained that he did bring the issue up in the discussion. The White House is not making direct accusations that the Russians did it, but the FBi has opened an investigation.

Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov's also commented on the emails on Tuesday, saying the claims were rooted in political paranoia. He said politicians were simply using what he called "the Russia card."

"We're still witnessing attempts to use the Russian issue — in a paranoid way — during the US election campaign," he said, the Associated Press reported. "There's nothing new here, it's a sort of traditional pastime of theirs. We think it's not good for bilateral ties but we realize that we have to go through this unfavorable period."

It didn't take long for the blowback to begin following the Wikileaks release, with the scandal immediately casting a shadow over the four-day convention in which Hillary Clinton will officially be declared the party's presidential nominee.

The messages, gleaned from the accounts of high-level staffers, seemed to validate what many supporters of Vermont senator Bernie Sanders had claimed throughout the 2016 primary — that the party had favored the former Secretary of State over Sanders. By Sunday, DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz had resigned from her post, and when she made an appearance during the convention's first day on Monday, she was greeted with boos and taunts from angry Sanders supporters.

Russia came into the picture as experts concluded that two of Russia's intelligence agencies had likely been the ones to infiltrate DNC servers, although it is always challenging to determine for certain where hackers originate. The same intelligence agencies are accused of breaking into the Joint Chiefs of Staff, White House, and State Department servers in 2015.

The FBI revealed on Monday that it is officially investigating the email hack. It appears authorities tipped the DNC off earlier this year about a possible security breach that began in 2015, according to a report from CNN. After being notified, the DNC reportedly acted in April and hired cybersecurity company CrowdStrike, which took until June to get the hackers out of the system and reported that they had left traces indicating they were Russian.