Moscow demands explanation of US charges against Russian lawyer
Moscow on Friday criticised the United States (US) indictment of Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, who met with officials from Donald Trump's election campaign in 2016, demanding Washington explain the charges against her.
"We expect a clear and articulate explanation from Washington" of the charges, foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said, adding that "criminal cases based on unclear claims" against Russians in the United States have become a "habit" for US justice.
Zakharova said it seemed like Washington is out for "revenge" against Veselnitskaya, who is at the centre of the Russia scandal rocking the US presidency, after she met with Donald Trump Junior who was seeking to get information on the Hillary Clinton campaign.
Trump Junior said nothing came of the meeting as it was focused on adoptions of Russian orphans. Veselnitskaya denied meddling in election issues and said the meeting was a waste of time. The indictment this week said she had fabricated evidence in a 2013 case filed in the US against Russian firm Prevezon holdings, which was allegedly involved in a $230 million tax fraud scheme in Moscow exposed by crusading lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.
Magnitsky was arrested and died in pre-trial detention in 2009 of untreated health issues, his case later inspiring the US Magnitsky Act intended to blacklist Russian officials implicated in human rights abuses.
Veselnitskaya's indictment is, at least on the surface, unrelated to the probe into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia ahead of his 2016 victory over Clinton in the presidential election.