St.Petersburg, Russia. Vladimir Putin, addressing the St Petersburg International Economic Forum, said on Friday that the hacking accusations were nothing more than ‘harmful gossip’ which he complained was damaging international relations and the global economy.

Putin was asked about the assessment shared by the US intelligence community that his government had orchestrated the hacking of senior Democratic Party officials as part of a concerted effort to help Donald Trump win the presidency.

The Russian leader said he had personally reviewed the US intelligence reports which made the hacking allegations against Russia, and that they contained no meaningful evidence.

“I have read these reports,” said Putin. “Even in these reports there is nothing specific but only assumptions and conclusions based on assumptions. The idea that the hacking had reportedly been carried out from Russian IP addresses which constituted meaningful evidence of anything was absurd,” Putin said.

“They can be in Russia, in Asia… even in America, Latin America. They can even be hackers, by the way, in the United States, who very skillfully and professionally, shifted the blame, as we say, on to Russia. Can you imagine something like that? In the midst of a political battle. By some calculations it was convenient for them to release this information, so they released it, citing Russia.” Putin added.

Putin went further, “Where are the finger prints? IP addresses can be faked. Do you know how many specialists there are who can make it look as if your children sent something from your home IP address? They can fake anything and then accuse anyone. It’s not evidence.”

The Russian leader is keen to repair battered US-Russia relations and is expected to meet Trump for the first time at the G20 in Hamburg in July, said Trump had simply run a better campaign and better connected with voters than Clinton.

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