Perhaps because he fears retaliation for his government's deliberate - and unsubstantiated - interference in last year's US presidential election, Russian President Vladimir Putin is apparently worried that foreign powers might interfere in Russia’s upcoming federal election. So, nearly a year after US intelligence agencies first blamed Russia for conspiring against their preferred candidate, Hillary Clinton, and throwing the vote to Trump, Putin is ordering Russia’s security services to “erect a safe barrier” to prevent foreign powers from meddling in federal elections set for March.
In a speech to security and intelligence personnel on Wednesday, Putin urged everybody in attendance to work tirelessly to try and prevent foreign influence from creeping into Russian society and politics, according to Russia Today.
Putin’s request, which is an obvious, if indirect, sleight against the US despite the recent “collusion” between US and Russian intelligence that helped prevent a terror attack in St. Petersburg.
“There is a great responsibility on the intelligence services to erect a safe barrier against external meddling in our social and political life, and to counteract the work of foreign security agencies, which are doing all they can to ramp up their level of activity in Russia,” Putin said.
Russia’s security services should also remain alert as terrorists from Muslim-majority areas of the former Soviet Union return home, and try to carry out attacks in densely populated urban centers.
“Agents must work to destroy the financial and recruitment networks, and to prevent radicals from influencing youths, and spreading the ideology of hate, intolerance, and also aggressive nationalism,” he said.
Earlier this year, Putin said that up to 7,000 Muslims from the former Soviet Union, primarily from predominantly Muslim regions in the Caucuses and Central Asia, had flown to Syria and Iraq to join Islamic State. Since Syrian Army forces - aided by Russian troops and aircraft - drove ISIS out of Syria, many of its former foreign fighters have tried to sneak back into their home countries.