Russia, without even a hint of irony, is warning the U.S. against meddling in the country’s upcoming presidential election.


Russian foreign minister spokeswoman Maria Zakharova took to social media on Wednesday to condemn criticism from the U.S. State Department over opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s presidential bid being blocked.


Zakharova condemned the admonishment from the U.S., equating it to “meddling in the Russian elections.”


“This state department statement, which I’m sure will be repeated, is a direct interference in our electoral process and internal affairs,” Zakharova wrote in a Facebook post that was reported by Russia’s state-owned TASS news agency.


The State Department joined with the European Union in criticizing a decision by Russian election officials to ban Alexei Navalny from running in the March 2018 election against Putin.


Officials said that can not run for Russia’s highest office thanks to an embezzlement conviction.


Navalny responded to the decision by calling on his supporters to boycott the election, a move that further angered Moscow brass.


“Calls for boycott ought to be carefully studied to see if they are breaking the law,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday.


In a statement shared with Business Insider, a State Department representative expressed concern over Russia’s “ongoing crackdown against independent voices, from journalists to civil society activists and opposition politicians.”

Alexei Navalny speaks at a radio station in Russia on Dec. 27, 2017.

Alexei Navalny speaks at a radio station in Russia on Dec. 27, 2017.

(Pavel Golovkin/AP)


The statement led Zakharova to question recent measures taken by U.S. officials requiring certain Russian media outlets to register in the U.S. as foreign agents and accused the U.S of harassing foreign reporters.


“And these people expressed outrage over alleged Russian ‘interference’ in their electoral process for an entire year?!” Zakharova added.


Despite protestations from Russian president Vladimir Putin, U.S. intelligence agencies agree that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential contest to help President Trump win the White House.


A federal probe, being helmed by special counsel Robert Mueller, has been tasked with investigating Russia’s role in the election and whether any associates of President Trump colluded with the Kremlin.


There are several congressional panels also looking at Russia’s role in the election.


Trump said last month that he believes Putin is sincere in his denials and that the continued scrutiny of last year’s election has made cooperating with Moscow difficult.


“He said he didn’t meddle — I asked him again,” Trump said after meeting with Putin in Vietnam. “You can only ask so many times. I just asked him again. He said he absolutely did not meddle in our election. He did not do what they are saying he did.”

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