Samara Governor Nikolai Merkushkin's remarks about wage arrears at a local auto plant were taken out of context, says his spokesman, who accuses journalists of cherry-picking a line from a speech the governor made earlier this week, in order to damage him politically.
"In fact, this can be seen as pre-election provocation," Chernyshov said.
On August 23, the media quoted a remarks Merkushkin made at meeting with locals in Togliatti, where he said to employees at an auto plant that the company's wage arrears likely will never be paid. The governor also accused workers now demanding their back pay of being manipulated by nefarious foreign agents, including US Ambassador to Russia John Tefft, who toured the region earlier this year. (Tefft never visited Togliatti, however.)
On September 18, Russia will hold national elections for the State Duma, the lower house of the federal parliament. More than once, Russian officials have accused the West (namely, the United States) of trying to meddle in the outcome.