(CNSNews.com) – Russia’s foreign ministry on Thursday lashed out at the U.S. media for their coverage of Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's visit to Washington this week. Instead of focusing on bilateral relations, American media outlets wanted to talk about alleged Russian interference in the U.S. election and the firing of FBI Director James Comey.
Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said U.S. journalists asking questions of Lavrov after an Oval Office meeting with President Trump seemed “unaware of how silly it was to ask the foreign minister of a another country about the reasons for certain personnel changes in their own country.”
“Most of the questions concerned Russia’s alleged intervention in the U.S. election and the dismissal of the FBI director,” Zakharova said.
“This indicates the colossal bias of the mass media, the lack of independent thinking and control by certain political groups,” she said.
Lavrov’s unheralded meeting with Trump Wednesday made waves because it was closed to the White House press corps while a photographer with the Russian state-owned news agency TASS was allowed in.
It was only after the Russian Embassy in Washington tweeted the TASS photos of Trump and Lavrov that most journalists and others became aware it had taken place at all.
Also present was Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak, a central figure in the resignation of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. (Flynn resigned after the White House determined he had misled Vice-President Mike Pence about a conversation with Kislyak before the inauguration.)
At a news conference at the Russian Embassy after the Oval Office meeting, Lavrov fielded a number of questions about claims of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, and alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow.
He seemed bemused by some of the questioning:
“I think it is demeaning for the American people to hear that the Russian Federation controls domestic politics in the U.S.A.,” Lavrov replied to one question, according to the foreign ministry translation of his words in Russian.
(“The pro-Kremlin RT television network translated the words slightly differently: “I think it’s humiliating for Americans to hear that U.S. internal politics is ruled by Russia. How is it possible for such a great nation to think this way?”)
Lavrov expressed irritation when asked several times whether Trump during their meeting had raised concerns about alleged Russian election interference.
“I spoke about concrete things with Donald Trump. None of us touched on that ‘bacchanalia,’” he said. (Dictionary definition: “a Roman festival of Bacchus celebrated with dancing, song, and revelry.”)
Asked about the same issue again, Lavrov said, “I thought we were all grow-ups here. I never thought I would have to answer such questions, especially in the U.S., with your deeply rooted democratic political system.”
“President Trump said publicly a number of times what he thought about the allegations that we supposedly interfered in your domestic affairs,” he continued. “His public statements are sufficient for me. There is no need to tell us about this in private, secretly.”
Lavrov said no-one had uncovered “a single shred of evidence” of the supposed interference.
Asked yet again, Lavrov said, “I’ve just said that President Trump publicly called it fiction. Put on the table just one single fact, then we’ll react to it.”
Lavrov said the allegations had been flying “for months,” with no evidence presented.
The foreign minister blamed the Obama administration for the poor relations between the U.S. and Russia.
“Our bilateral relations aren’t very positive, and the reason for that is well known,” he said. “The previous administration did everything to undermine the basis of it. Trump has shown that he wants to establish constructive and productive relations with Russia.”
“The dialogue between Russia and the U.S. is now free from the ideology that characterized it under the Barack Obama administration,” Lavrov said.
He described Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson as “the kind of people who want to maintain a dialogue not as a means of demonstrating what they can achieve in the area of ideological preferences, but rather as a means of solving particular issues which have great bearing on the nation’s progress, peoples’ well-being and settling conflicts in different areas.”
In 2009 then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton marked the launch of an attempted rebooting of relations with Russia by handing Lavrov a symbolic “reset button” during a meeting in Geneva.
Relations did look set to improve, but the much-touted “reset” began disintegrating with Russia’s armed intervention in Ukraine and its annexation of Crimea in March 2014.
Other major irritants included Russian objections to NATO missile defense plans – objections that predated the Obama administration – U.S. concerns about President Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian policies at home, and mutual distrust over each other’s actions and agendas in the Syrian civil war.