AP NEWS

US alleges Russia meddling in Chilean protests

November 1, 2019
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Women dressed in black perform to mourn those who have been killed, tortured and raped during an anti-government protest in Santiago, Chile, Friday, Nov. 1, 2019. Chile has been facing days of unrest, triggered by a relatively minor increase in subway fares. The protests have shaken a nation noted for economic stability over the past decades, which has seen steadily declining poverty despite persistent high rates of inequality. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
1 of 3
Women dressed in black perform to mourn those who have been killed, tortured and raped during an anti-government protest in Santiago, Chile, Friday, Nov. 1, 2019. Chile has been facing days of unrest, triggered by a relatively minor increase in subway fares. The protests have shaken a nation noted for economic stability over the past decades, which has seen steadily declining poverty despite persistent high rates of inequality. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States says there are indications that Russian activity in social media is exacerbating divisions in Chile, which has been rocked by deadly protests.

A senior State Department official said Thursday that the alleged online activity - denied by Russia - reflected increased Russian engagement in the Americas.

The official did not provide details to support the allegation and did not identify specific Russian entities said to be involved in the activity. The official was not authorized to talk to journalists and requested anonymity.

Chile is getting cooperation from the U.S. to deal with the Russian online activity, according to the official.

Michael G. Kozak, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere, told Congress last week that Russian online activity in social media was aimed at “stirring up violence, misinformation and that kind of thing” in Chile.

On Friday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov denied the U.S. allegations, according to the Interfax news agency.

“The U.S. administration is taking advantage of the difficult internal situation in Chile to continue its attempts to denigrate the foreign policy of our country,” Ryabkov said.

Chilean President Sebastián Piñera has canceled two major international summits after protests over economic hardship and other grievances. At least 20 people died, hundreds were injured and businesses and infrastructure were damaged.

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Luis Alonso Lugo on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/luisalonsolugo