Cyber Risk

Russia denies Reuters report think tank drew up plan to sway U.S. election

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia dismissed as false on Thursday a Reuters report that said a government think tank controlled by President Vladimir Putin had developed a plan to swing the 2016 U.S. presidential election in Donald Trump’s favor.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin arrives to chair a meeting at the Kremlin. REUTERS/Alexander Nemenov/Pool

Reuters reported on Wednesday that the Moscow-based Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISS) had provided the framework and rationale for what U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded was an intensive effort by Russia to interfere with the Nov. 8 election.

The Reuters report cited three current and four former U.S. officials who had acquired two documents prepared by the institute.

Russia has repeatedly denied interfering in the U.S. election. The Kremlin and RISS did not respond to requests for comment on the documents before Wednesday, but on Thursday the think tank issued a statement saying the report was false.

“It seems, that in their conspiratorial consciousness the authors of this conceit did not weigh reality against their coveted fantasies, in order to once again draw attention to the theme ... of Russia’s ‘participation’ in the pre-election campaign in the United States,” said RISS Director Mikhail Fradkov.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said people should not pay attention to reports based on anonymous sources.

“I don’t know anything about this, I can only say that seven anonymous sources are not worth one real one.”

The documents obtained by the U.S. intelligence officials were central to the conclusion by the administration of Barack Obama that Russia mounted a “fake news” campaign and launched cyber attacks against Democratic Party groups and Hillary Clinton’s campaign, the current and former officials said.

That campaign began after Putin asked the institute to draw up a plan for interfering with the U.S. presidential race, said one of the sources, a former senior U.S. intelligence official.

U.S. President Donald Trump has said Russia’s activities had no impact on the outcome of the race. Ongoing congressional and FBI investigations into Russian interference have so far produced no public evidence that Trump associates colluded with the Russian effort to change the outcome of the election.

Reporting by Jack Stubbs and Denis Pinchuk, editing by Larry King