Russians Poke Fun at McCain Cash Request

UNITED NATIONS — The Russians have turned down U.S. presidential candidate John McCain's request for campaign money — and had a bit of a laugh at his expense.

Russia's permanent mission to the United Nations issued a statement Monday that it had "received a letter from Senator John McCain requesting a financial contribution to his presidential campaign."

The statement also said Russia's government, its UN mission in New York and Russian officials "do not finance political activity in foreign countries."

Presidential campaigns are legally barred from accepting foreign contributions.

Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin and several other diplomats at the mission received the fundraising appeal from the Republican presidential nominee on Thursday, according to Ruslan Bakhtin, a spokesman for Russia's UN mission.

But the letters, which were dated Sept. 29, did not use formal titles. That led Churkin and his colleagues to conclude that the requests stemmed from "a computer failure" by McCain's campaign, Bakhtin said.

"It's evident that it was a mistake. It happens," said Bakhtin, who along with another Russian official at the mission acknowledged that they were having a good laugh over the mixup. "Normally, they don't circulate these kinds of letters to diplomatic posts."

Bakhtin emphasized, too, that the "Russian authorities are in no way engaged in funding political campaigns or political activities abroad."

Brian Rogers, a spokesman for the campaign, said Monday that he was unable to pinpoint what had caused the blunder. "It sounds like they might have been sent to the wrong place. We obviously don't solicit campaign contributions from people who aren't able to contribute," he said.