Russian President Vladimir Putin. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky, File)
MOSCOW — The Kremlin has not collected compromising information about U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman declared Wednesday, deriding the report as a “complete fabrication and utter nonsense.”
“This is an evident attempt to harm our bilateral ties,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters in Moscow. “The Kremlin does not engage in collecting compromising information.”
A U.S. official told The Associated Press on Tuesday that intelligence officials had informed Trump about an unsubstantiated report that Russia had compromising personal and financial information about him. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the official was not allowed to publicly discuss the matter.
After news reports were published about the briefing, Trump tweeted: “FAKE NEWS – A TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!”
Peskov dismissed the report on compromising information on Trump but commented that the allegations could be used to keep American politicians from wanting to improve ties with Russia.
“We should treat it with humour, but there is a sad side to it too,” he said. “There are people who are whipping up this frenzy, who are doing their best to keep this witch hunt going.”
Peskov described the report as part of efforts to “keep harming the relations, not allow anyone to think about whether this is in the interests of both countries, the interests of the global community and what can be done to move from a total confrontation to a more constructive approach.”
Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the foreign affairs committee in the upper chamber of Russia’s parliament, was mentioned in the report as a key figure in the “Trump campaign-Kremlin liaison operation” who allegedly met with Trump’s lawyer in Prague.
“Concerning me, there is not a single word of truth in this so-called report,” Kosachev said in a post on his Facebook page, denying meeting the lawyer or visiting the Czech Republic in recent years.
“Such gaffes lead me to believe that either the report was compiled by provocateurs who have no information and just make it up by putting in the names of real people — or U.S. intelligence should all hand in their resignations in the light of such poor quality of their work.”
Russian state television provided a muted coverage of the report, dismissing it as fake and pointing to its release timed to President Barack Obama’s final speech in Chicago.
“The release would help Obama to slam the door even louder,” Rossiya 24 television said. Noting that different sections of the report were written in different typefaces “it does not look like it was compiled by professionals,” Rossiya 24 said.
At the Russian parliament, LDPR party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky on Wednesday defended the U.S. president-elect.
“This is just another attempt to derail relations between Russia and the U.S,” he said. “Trump has earned an honest living in the U.S. and no one will be able to find fault with him. He has never been involved in any dubious dealings, and we do not have anything bad on him.”
In Russia in general, however, blurry videos of highly placed men in unsavoury sexual acts and audio recordings of influential figures profanely insulting their nominal allies appear often enough that there’s a special word for them: kompromat, or “compromising material.”
And when such compromising material shows up in Russia, it often supports Kremlin interests or comes via media believed to have close ties to Putin.
Those hit by such material include Victoria Nuland, an assistant U.S. Secretary of State; former Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov; former Russian prosecutor general Yuri Skuratov and the assassinated Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov.
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