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‘Classic Russian propaganda,’ US says on Moscow's claim of interference in Bangladesh’s domestic affairs

Update : 07 Dec 2023, 10:26

The United States has called Moscow’s claims of Washington's interference in Bangladesh’s domestic political affairs as “classic Russian propaganda.”

“Look, back in the Navy, we had a single two-syllable word to describe an allegation like that, which I will spare you from. This is just classic Russian propaganda,” John Kirby, NSC Coordinator for Strategic Communications, told reporters in a media briefing in Washington on December 6.

He said, “I’ll just tell you that it’s absolutely false, and the Russians know it’s false.” Kirby said they want the same thing the Bangladeshi people want, and that is free and fair elections.

“And that’s what the ambassador (Peter Haas) was – and his team was and will continue to work with all sectors of Bangladeshi society, including civil society, engagement with opposition parties and individuals as well as the sitting government, to work hard to make sure that the democratic aspirations of the Bangladeshi people are respected. That’s what we’re doing,” he said.

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, during a weekly briefing in Moscow on November 22, said that Russia has spoken repeatedly about the attempts by the United States and its allies to influence the internal political process in Bangladesh, ostensibly under the banner of ensuring “transparency and inclusiveness” in the upcoming parliamentary election.

Information has come to light regarding a meeting at the end of October between US Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Haas and a high-ranking representative of the local opposition, according to the Russian side.

They reportedly discussed plans to organize mass anti-government protests in the country during the meeting, the Russian side said.

In particular, the American Ambassador “promised” the representative of the opposition information support in the event that the authorities use force against participants in “peaceful demonstrations.”

These assurances were purportedly made on behalf of the embassies of the United States, Britain, Australia, and several other countries, according to a Facebook post shared by the Russian Embassy in Dhaka.

Dhaka has described the recent comments and counter comments made by Russia and the United States on Bangladesh as “unwarranted.”

Bangladesh Ambassador to Russia holds meeting with Ivanovo oblast Governor Sergeevich  

“Look, I don't want to comment on that. We can talk about what is not happening in Bangladesh. What the third or fourth country are discussing among them, …. what should I say — it can be called unwarranted,” Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen said recently.

Asked whether the US is stepping back from its position, Kirby said they believe in a free and fair election in Bangladesh, and they continue to make the case.

“We don’t take sides in foreign elections, and that doesn’t change with – in Bangladesh’s case either. We support a free and fair election,” he said.

The Election Commission and the Bangladesh government said they are committed to free and fair elections and sought cooperation from all to make the elections free of violence.

A large number of nomination papers were submitted amid "fanfare and festivity" by aspiring candidates for the upcoming 12th parliamentary election to be held on January 7, 2024.

A fraction of BNP, a major opposition political party, instead of participating resorted to burning private and public properties, blockades and hartals, and are boycotting the upcoming election although many of its own leaders are participating, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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