NEW YORK, March 4. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied that Russian nationals accused of meddling with US presidential elections in 2016 weren't acting on behalf of the Russian authorities and vowed they will never be extradited to the United States.
"I know that they did not represent the Russian state, the Russian authorities. What they did specifically, I have no idea", Putin said in an interview with NBC TV channel, a fragment of which was aired on Sunday.
He said he was unaware of who could be behind those people and called on the US to provide reliable evidence that they had done anything wrong. "Let them just not talk to the press, let them provide some materials, specifics and data. We will be prepared to look at them and talk about them", he said.
When asked whether these people could be extradited to the United States, the Russian leader stressed: "Never. Russia does not extradite its citizens to anyone, just like the United States".
On February 16, the US Department of Justice indicted 13 individuals and three organizations from Russia for allegedly interfering in the US presidential election in 2016. Special Counsel Robert Mueller filed charges that implicate businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin and 12 staff members of the Internet Research Agency in St. Petersburg, which Washington claims to have taken part in efforts "to defraud" the United States.
US President Donald Trump and the key players of his team have repeatedly denied all suspicions of illegal contacts with Russian officials during the election campaign. Moscow, too, has been denying allegations that it tried to influence the US presidential election.