Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, has hit back at claims that authorities were planning to close an American school in Moscow in an act of retribution for wide-ranging U.S. measures against Russia, announced Thursday.
“US officials ‘anonymously informed’ their media that Russia closed the Anglo-American School in Moscow as a retaliatory measure,” she wrote in a Facebook post, which was later translated by the Russian state news agency TASS. “That’s a lie. Apparently, the White House has completely lost its senses and began inventing sanctions against its own children.”
CNN was one of the first news organizations to report the closure of the school, which is popular with the children of Western diplomats. The news was widely shared on social media.
Zakharova specifically criticized CNN for spreading “false information.”
“You should not write that ‘Moscow denied…. Or Moscow will not.…' " Zakharova continued. “Write as it is: 'The CNN TV channel and other Western media have again spread false information citing official American sources.’ ”
The Facebook post finished with what may have been a veiled reference to Obama. “Normally, I do not ask Santa Claus for anything. This year, I'm asking him to get rid of someone,” Zakharova wrote.
The exact future of the Anglo-American School remains unclear. A statement on the school's Facebook page says only that it “is planning to open as scheduled following the New Year break” and that it will post updates through emails, postings on its website and, “if it is urgent," via text messages.
Russian President Vladimir Putin broke with diplomatic tradition Friday by not engaging in a tit-for-tat response to U.S. sanctions for alleged hacking by Russia. While the Russian Foreign Ministry had initially recommended that Putin expel 35 U.S. diplomats and close two properties used by the U.S. Embassy in Moscow — a near mirror image of the measures taken by the Obama administration against Russia in the United States — Putin said that he didn't plan to “create problems for American diplomats.”
“Moreover, I am inviting all children of U.S. diplomats accredited in Russia to the New Year and Christmas parties in the Kremlin,” Putin said in a statement Friday.
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