MOSCOW – A spokesman for President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday dismissed as an “absolute fantasy” allegations that the Kremlin has collected compromising information about President-elect Donald Trump.
“The Kremlin has no compromising dossier on Trump, such information isn’t consistent with reality and is nothing but an absolute fantasy,” Dmitry Peskov, who handles Putin’s day-to-day communications, told journalists.
U.S. officials Tuesday said that a classified report delivered to President Barack Obama and Trump last week included a section summarizing allegations that Russian intelligence services have compromising material and information on Trump’s personal life and finances.
Russia’s strong denials are directly at odds with the report and were reminiscent of previous Kremlin rebuttals after U.S. intelligence agencies said Russia had a hand in hacking web accounts the Democratic Party and top campaign figures for Hillary Clinton. Russia, however, has made no attempt to hide its support for Trump, whom many Russian leaders see as less adversarial than Clinton.
Peskov, whose own alleged role in overseeing and effort to undermine Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton is described in the report, on Wednesday called the dossier claims a “complete fabrication” and said the Kremlin “does not engage in collecting compromising material.”
But sex tapes and other potentially embarrassing material – and their use as leverage – have a long history in Russian politics. The most famous was the 2010 Katya Mumu scandal, when hidden camera videos of opposition politicians and journalists were leaked online in various hotel rooms, both having sex with the same woman or doing cocaine. The targets included opposition politician Ilya Yashin, political analyst Dmitry Oreshkin, satirist Viktor Shenderovich and others.
Responding to the Kremlin’s denial Wednesday, Trump tweeted: Russia just said the unverified report paid for by political opponents is “‘A COMPLETE AND TOTAL FABRICATION, UTTER NONSENSE.’ Very unfair!”
Later, Trump added in a follow-up post: “Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA – NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!”
Speaking on a conference call to reporters, Peskov said the report that contains the claims was a hoax intended harm U.S.-Russia relations, which are already at their lowest level since the Cold War. He also dismissed assertions about his role.
“You have to react to this with a certain humor, but there’s also a sad side to this,” Peskov said. “Hysteria is being whipped up to maintain a political witch hunt.”
Peskov was joined in his denials by Nikolai Kovalyov, a current legislator and former director of the Federal Security Service, Russia’s domestic intelligence agency.
“Certainly, there is no compromising material,” Kovalyov, who ran the agency between 1996 and 1998, told the Interfax news agency on Wednesday.
“Who is interested in gathering compromising material on a man who came here to organize a beauty contest?” Kovalyov told Interfax, referring to the claim of the report that agents began collecting material on Trump while he was visiting Moscow in 2013 to help organize a Miss Universe pageant. “I can tell you from my professional experience that Russia does not have such practices.”
The spokeswoman for Russia’s Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, also lashed out at the report.
“God created the world in seven days,” she said. “The Obama Administration has two more days to destroy it.”