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Ukrainian president warns citizens against election interference
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is warning his country's citizens against interfering in foreign elections, calling it "unacceptable" under any circumstance.
Zelensky also rejected any possibility that Ukraine is involved in attempts to interfere in the 2020 U.S. presidential election. The comments came just a day after a top U.S. counterintelligence official said that a pro-Russian Ukrainian lawmaker was participating in a Kremlin effort to meddle in the November election.
"Once again, I assure our partners that Ukraine did not allow and will not allow itself to intervene in the future in the elections and thereby harm our trustworthy and sincere partnerships with the United States," Zelensky said in a statement shared on Facebook on Saturday.
He added that preventing Ukraine's domestic policy from interfering in U.S. affairs was a "matter of our national security."
"Therefore, I believe that citizens of Ukraine should, mildly, refrain from any activity related to the US presidential election and not allow themselves to try to solve any of their personal political or business problems," he said. "Ukraine's reputation is worth much more than the reputation of any of our politicians."
William Evanina, the director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, said Friday that foreign adversaries including Russia, China and Iran are targeting the upcoming U.S. presidential election. In his report, he said that Russia was deploying a range of measures to "primarily denigrate" presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and boost President Trump.
"Some Kremlin-linked actors are also seeking to boost President Trump's candidacy on social media and Russian television," Evanina said.
He said that Ukrainian parliamentarian Andriy Derkach, whom he described as "pro Russia," was "spreading claims about corruption - including through publicizing leaked phone calls - to undermine Biden's candidacy and the Democratic Party."
His report also noted that China prefers that Trump not win reelection because of his unpredictability.
Zelensky was thrust at the center of U.S. affairs last year after reports first emerged that Trump pressed him to announce an investigation into Biden over unfounded allegations of corruption. The conversation was at the center of the Democratic-led House's move to impeach the president. The Senate acquitted Trump earlier this year.
The U.S. intelligence community concluded that Russia actively worked to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. Lawmakers and intelligence officials have repeatedly voiced concerns that the Kremlin will continue its efforts in the lead up to November.