- REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin
Russian President Vladimir Putin pushed back on Tuesday against unverified claims that Russia worked with Donald Trump during the US presidential election to undermine Hillary Clinton.
“We are witnessing an ongoing acute political struggle in the US, whose task is to undermine the legitimacy of the president-elect,” Putin said, according to the Russian news agency Interfax.
He added that those behind the claims, included in a dossier made public last week, were “worse than prostitutes.”
“I have an impression they practiced in Kiev and are ready to organize a Maidan in Washington, just to not let Trump take office,” Putin said, referring to the Euromaidan protests in Ukraine that led to the ouster of the country’s pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych, in February 2014.
“The media frenzy surrounding Trump speaks of the degradation of US political elites,” Putin said, adding that he was “not acquainted with Trump” and therefore had “no reasons either to defend or attack him.”
The dossier was part of an opposition-research project conducted by a former British spy, Christopher Steele, at the behest of anti-Trump Republicans and, later, Democrats. Steele was the former head of the Russia desk in Moscow for Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, also known as MI6. The memos he wrote made their way to US intelligence officials sometime last year.
A summary of his findings, collected from the network of Russian intelligence sources he had cultivated, was presented to Trump, President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and the country’s top lawmakers on intelligence matters earlier this month as part of a classified briefing about Russia’s intervention in the US presidential election.
The dossier suggested, among other things, that Russian officials fed hacked Democratic documents to WikiLeaks in exchange for Trump sidelining Ukraine as a campaign issue; that Trump hired sex workers to perform lewd acts in a Moscow Ritz-Carlton presidential suite where President Barack Obama once stayed; and that what the dossier described as “Trump’s unorthodox behavior in Russia over the years” provided Russians with information they could use to blackmail him.
Putin mocked the claims contained in the dossier, which he described as “an obvious fake” and “nonsense.”
Russian intelligence services “don’t chase every American billionaire,” Putin said. He added that Trump “has been with the most beautiful women in the world, so why would he need prostitutes in Moscow?”
“Trump organized beauty contests,” Putin continued. “I find it hard to believe that he rushed to some hotel to meet girls of loose morals, although ours are undoubtedly the best in the world.”
Putin also slammed the new sanctions imposed on Russia by the Obama administration in late December, claiming that attempts were being made to tie Trump’s “hands and feet” while he was performing his election campaign promises to try to improve relations with Russia.
“Some people leave without saying goodbye, and some say goodbye without leaving,” Putin said. “The Obama administration belongs to the second category.”
Throughout the campaign, Trump broke from traditional GOP orthodoxy and established himself as the most sympathetic Republican candidate toward Russia, stressing a need to work with the country on various geopolitical issues.
Trump has not commented on the dossier’s specific claims, but has called the dossier itself “fake news” and “a complete fraud.”
Watch Putin’s remarks here: