Russia says accusations of US vote interference are 'empty statements'

File photo. Photograph:( AFP )

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Nov 06, 2018, 07.31 PM (IST)

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday that accusations of Russian interference in US midterm elections were "empty statements," as voters cast their ballots in the most crucial election.

US law enforcement and intelligence agencies cautioned voters on the eve of US midterm that Americans should be wary of Russian attempts to spread fake news.

The announcement came days after a new study found that misinformation on social media was spreading at a greater rate than during the run-up to the 2016 presidential vote, which Russia is accused of manipulating through a vast propaganda campaign in favour of Donald Trump, the eventual winner.

"Americans should be aware that foreign actors -- and Russia in particular -- continue to try to influence public sentiment and voter perceptions through actions intended to sow discord," a joint statement by Department of Homeland Seucrity Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Attorney General Jeff Session, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and FBI director Christopher Wray said. 

"They can do this by spreading false information about political processes and candidates, lying about their own interference activities, disseminating propaganda on social media, and through other tactics. The American public can mitigate these efforts by remaining informed, reporting suspicious activity and being vigilant consumers of information," the statement added.

Americans started voting Tuesday in critical midterm elections that mark the first major voter test of Donald Trump's presidency, with control of Congress at stake.

As polling stations opened at 6:00 am (1100 GMT) on the East Coast, Republicans were keenly aware that losing their majority will hamstring his divisive, nativist political agenda over the next two years.

At stake are all 435 seats in the House of Representatives, 35 seats in the 100-member Senate, 36 governor's posts and seats in state legislatures across the country.

(With inputs from news agencies)

Story highlights

Americans started voting Tuesday in critical midterm elections that mark the first major voter test of Donald Trump's presidency, with control of Congress at stake.