Vyacheslav Nikonov, a member of the Russian parliament, made the snarky comment
Nikonov's tone suggests that the remarks were made in jest
A Russian politician appeared to mock the US intelligence community in a recent television appearance, saying American spies “slept through while Russia elected a new US president.”
Vyacheslav Nikonov, a member of the lower house of the Russian parliament, the Duma, made the snarky reference to Russian interference in the 2016 US election on Sunday during a weekly political show called “Sunday Evening with Vladimir Solovyov.”
“(To achieve world dominance) the US overextended themselves,” Nikonov said. “Because the most recent tendencies, economical, military, even tendencies in the intelligence (services) which slept through while Russia elected a new US president.”
“It’s just ridiculous, what kind of intelligence in the USA one can even talk about?” he added. “The US sagged in all these aspects for the past two decades. This superpower is losing its ability to define the world.”
The comments were first noticed by Julia Davis, who runs a website that is largely critical of Russian media called “Russia Lies.”
While Nikonov’s tone suggests that the remarks were made in jest for the purpose of arguing the point that American power in the world was declining, his jab at US intelligence services comes amid several ongoing investigations into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election, including a probe into alleged collusion with members of the Trump campaign.
The US government publicly announced in October that it was “confident” Russia orchestrated the hacking of the Democratic National Committee in the lead-up to the election.
And in January, days before President Donald Trump took office, the US intelligence community concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered an “influence campaign” aimed at hurting Trump’s rival, Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton.
Trump has branded the investigation the “single greatest witch hunt” in political history and consistently questioned the intelligence community’s findings well into his presidency.
Since the election, Trump has appeared to view suggestions of Russian meddling as a Democratic effort to de-legitimize his election win, even though the intelligence community did not conclude that Russian efforts made a difference in the election result.
Russia has repeatedly denied involvement in any attempts to influence last year’s US Presidential election.
When asked directly whether Russia interfered in the election, Putin said in March: “Read my lips: No.” He also described the allegations as “fictional, illusory, provocations and lies.”
At a June economic forum in St. Petersburg, Putin compared accusations of Russian meddling in the US election to anti-Semitism and labeled the reports of then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak’s meetings with Trump associates as “hysteria,” saying the envoy was simply doing what he’s paid to do.
In March, CNN reported that Kislyak is considered by US intelligence to be one of Russia’s top spies and spy-recruiters in Washington, citing senior US government officials. Russia’s Foreign Ministry strongly rejected the allegations.
Kislyak downplayed his contact with members of the Trump campaign in an exclusive interview with CNN last month, calling allegations that he worked as a spymaster and tried to recruit people within Trump’s orbit “nonsense.”
CNN’s Mary Ilyushina contributed to this report.