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Kremlin: U.S. Trying To Set Russian Business Elite Against Putin Before Election

Russian President Vladimir Putin

The Kremlin has accused the United States of trying to set the Russian business elite against President Vladimir Putin before an election scheduled for next year.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists on November 30 that he had received written questions from an unnamed international news agency.

He said that one of the alleged questions was, "Do you agree with the opinion that the U.S. authorities are using sanctions [against Russia] in order to set wealthy supporters of the Russian president against him?"

Peskov said he had answered, "I am sure that this is the exactly the case."

Another alleged question cited by Peskov was, "Do you think that such U.S. efforts are linked to the presidential election?"

"We are convinced of this," Peskov is alleged to have replied in response to the query.

Putin has not officially announced whether he plans to run for a fourth term in office in the March 18 presidential poll.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev told journalists on November 30 that if Putin decides to take part in the election, the ruling United Russia party will support him.

Putin is expected to easily win the race.

Based on reporting by Interfax, TASS, live television broadcast