Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday defended President-elect Donald Trump against refuted allegations that he visited prostitutes when in Moscow—although he quipped that his country’s escorts “are the best in the world.”
“This is an adult, and a man who for years organized beauty contests and spoke with the most beautiful women in the world,” Putin said in an interview with the state-sponsored media agency Sputnik. “I can hardly believe that he ran off to meet with our girls of low social morals. Although of course ours are the best in the world.”
Putin went on to dismiss an unverified 35-page dossier compiled by a former British intelligence agent as part of political opposition research into Trump as an “obvious fake,” criticizing those who ordered its creation as “worse than prostitutes” with “no moral limits.”
“When Trump came to Moscow, he was not a political figure, he was just a businessmen, one of the rich people of America. Do they think our special services follow every American billionaire?” said the Russian president, denying that his country’s intelligence agencies had anything to do with constructing the file of alleged “blackmail material.”
Putin did, however, allude to his belief that there was an ongoing conspiracy to “delegitimize” Trump.
“It seems that they practiced this in Kiev and now are ready to organize a ‘Maidan’ in Washington not to let Trump assume office,” Putin said, referencing the public square in Ukraine’s capital where protesters gathered in 2014 to revolt against the Russian-backed President Viktor Yanukovych.
Trump has been notably soft toward Russia throughout his candidacy and as president-elect, a stance that political analysts expect to carry through into his administration. In 2016, Trump’s team went so far as to push the Republican Party to weaken its stance on Russian efforts to take over Crimea in the party platform.
Trump also repeatedly, and controversially, questioned the formal U.S. intelligence community assessment that the Kremlin was behind pre-election cyberattacks and leaks designed to hurt Democrat Hillary Clinton and aid Trump in his bid for the White House.
“I don’t know Mr. Trump,” Putin said. “I have never met him, I don’t know what he will do in the international arena, so I have no reason either to attack him, criticize him or defend him.”