The leftist front-runner in Mexico's presidential election is making light of allegations by his opponents and a top U.S. official that his campaign may have backing from the Kremlin.
Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on January 18 joked that in light of the allegations, he will henceforth be known as "Andres Manuelovich."
A spokesman for Jose Antonio Meade, Obrador's rival from the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, had warned on January 17 of possible Russian interference in the July presidential vote, with the aim of benefiting Lopez Obrador.
U.S. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster was also reported as saying recently that Russia is building on its alleged attempt to influence the U.S. presidential election in 2016 by seeking to sway votes in Mexico and other countries.
"We've seen that this is really a sophisticated effort to polarize democratic societies and pit communities within those societies against each other," McMaster said, according to a video clip that emerged last weekend of a private speech he gave last month.
"You've seen, actually, initial signs of it in the Mexican presidential campaign already," he said, without elaborating, in the video clip.
Obrador, a former Mexico City mayor, made fun of the accusation by shooting a video in which he calls himself "Andres Manuelovich" and, with a port in the background, says he is waiting for a Russian submarine to surface laden with gold.
Obradar has received positive coverage from Russian state news outlets like Sputnik and RT, fueling suspicions among his opponents that he has Kremlin backing.
Mexico's Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray has said there is no evidence to support allegations about Russian interference in Mexico's election, however.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also recently denied the accusations, calling them "unfounded."
Based on reporting by Reuters, Reforma, and TASS