UNITED NATIONS - The Russians have turned down Sen. John McCain's request for campaign money - and had a bit of a laugh at his expense.

Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, received a fundraising appeal from the Republican presidential nominee Thursday, said spokesman Ruslan Bakhtin.

The McCain campaign's fundraising letter, dated Sept. 29, did not use Churkin's formal title. That led Churkin to conclude the request stemmed from "a computer failure" by McCain's campaign, Bakhtin said.

Bakhtin emphasized, too, that the "Russian authorities are in no way engaged in funding political campaigns or political activities abroad." He said the mission had not sent any direct reply to the McCain campaign.

Brian Rogers, a spokesman for the campaign, said yesterday that he was unable to pinpoint what had caused the blunder.

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"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.

Presidential campaigns are legally barred from accepting foreign contributions.