06 June 2017

But he said last week that "patriotically minded" Russians, whom he compared to artists, might have taken it upon themselves "to fight against those who say bad things about Russia," according to The New York Times, which was present at his news conference with Russian and foreign outlets in St. Petersburg on Thursday. The statement was the closest Putin has come to acknowledging the view of US intelligence agencies that Russian hackers were behind the campaigns targeting Democrats during last year's election. "We're not doing this at the state level," Putin said. But he implied that it would be patriotic for private Russian citizens to "start making contributions — which are right, from their point of view — to the fight against those who say bad things about Russia."

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