Russia's new ambassador to Britain has urged political parties to keep his country out of the general election, saying allegations of Russian interference have "nothing at all to do with realities".
Andrei Kelin, who only took up his post a few days ago, told Sky News his mission is to improve relations with the UK, which fell to a post-Cold War low in the wake of the attempted assassination of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury last year.
London blamed Moscow for the attack, but the Kremlin has denied any involvement.
The top official said the current phase of bad relations between the UK and Russia was an anomaly compared with the two countries' long history and he hoped it would be corrected.
Asked what he wanted the UK to do to ensure this happens, the ambassador said: "I will say that I have a certain message for the UK.
"Please don't use Russian issue, or things connected with Russia, in the internal political campaign. It is much better to concentrate on real priorities in economies, in politics, in domestic health care and solve the problems that are really existing and are really important for this country."
Mr Kelin, who was speaking at the sidelines of an annual UK-Russia business forum in London, said he was surprised that Russia had been dragged into the political jousting between the Conservative Party and the Labour Party.