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12 Sep, 2018 05:16

No Russian trace in Manafort case, but Moscow portrayed as villain – Lavrov

No Russian trace in Manafort case, but Moscow portrayed as villain – Lavrov

Nothing in the charges against former US President Donald Trump’s campaign manager Paul Manafort suggests any ties to Russia, but US media are scapegoating Moscow anyway, the Russian foreign minister said.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was addressing young diplomats at a session of the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) in Vladivostok on Wednesday, when he touched on the case of Manafort, originally investigated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office as part of the wide-ranging Russia collusion probe.

Manafort has faced two separate trials, in Washington, DC and Virginia, after being charged with a list of offenses ranging from tax and bank fraud to witness tampering and unreported lobbying on behalf of Ukrainian government under the ousted President Viktor Yanukovich.

Last month, Manfort was found guilty of five counts of tax fraud, one count of hiding foreign bank accounts and two counts of bank fraud by a jury in Virginia. He faces seven separate charges in an upcoming trial in Washington. However, none of the allegations  have anything to do with the initial purpose of the prosecution’s looking into his shady dealings – that is to find a proof of the Trump campaign’s collusion with the Kremlin.

The total lack of evidence did not stop the mainstream media from brazenly peddling the Russia narrative when the investigation was in its early stages, Lavrov noted.

“They began hyping up the case of Manafort, who was accused of being almost the main executioner of Kremlin’s sinister plot to stop Hillary Clinton from winning” the presidential elections, he said. “In the end, after months-long  investigation, hearings, he was charged only with being an agent of the Ukrainian government and working in the interest of the Ukrainian government.”

However, the damage has been already done as ordinary Americans were made to believe that Russia is “a villain that runs everything in the US.”

The top Russian diplomat also took aim at America’s two-party system, arguing that “regrettably” it seemed that the decades-old system “glitched” during the 2016 elections, with the Democratic party that emerged on the losing end still trying to find those responsible for its stunning debacle outside the US.

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