St Petersburg: Russian president Vladimir Putin on Thursday rejected suggestions that elections anywhere could be manipulated by hackers, and denied that his government had ever done it or would do so.
He, however, conceded that some "patriotic" individuals could have carried out cyber attacks in the West to pay back for what he said was its "Russo-phobic hysteria."
"If they have patriotic leanings, they may try to add their contribution to the fight against those who speak badly about Russia," he said during an exclusive interaction with editors of international news agencies. "Theoretically it's possible."
But he quickly distanced himself from suggestions that the Russian state was involved in election hacking.
"We never engaged in that on a state level, and have no intention of doing so," he said when asked if Russian hackers could try to influence the German parliamentary elections later this year.
Russian hacking of elections has been at the centre of a controversy since the US elections that gave Donald Trump the presidency. US intelligence agencies accuse Russia of hacking into Democratic Party emails, helping Trump win against his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
Putin said that in any case hackers cannot possibly sway election outcomes because the electorate is not so easily manipulated.
"I'm deeply convinced that no hackers can radically influence another country's election campaign. No hackers can influence election campaigns in any country of Europe, Asia or America," he said.
He said it's also possible that Russia could have been framed by hackers from other countries.
"I can imagine that some do it deliberately, staging a chain of attacks in such a way as to cast Russia as the origin of such an attack," Putin said. "Modern technologies allow that to be done quite easily."
Updated Date: Jun 01, 2017 21:06 PM