VLADIMIR Putin has admitted patriotic Russian hacker may target foreign electoral campaign – but insisted Moscow would not interfere in another nations election.
In the nearest admission to interference in foreign election to date, Putin said hackers may cyber attacks against critics if they “feel” like it.
The Russian president inadvertently praised the hackers who attack “those speaking ill of Russia”, and claimed it is part of a larger “justified fight”.
Speaking at the St Petersburg Economic Forum, Putin said: “Hackers are free people like artists. If artists get up in the morning feeling good, all they do all day is paint.
“The same goes for hackers. They got up today and read that something is going on internationally.
“If they are feeling patriotic, they will start contributing, as they believe, to the justified fight against those speaking ill of Russia.”
His comments come after the French government’s cyber security dispelled rumours that Russia had sabotaged Macron’s campaign with leaks during the French elections.
Guiilame Poupard, head of France’s government’s cyber security told the Telegraph: “The attack was so generic and simple it could have been anyone.”
Meeting Putin for the first time, French president Macron launched a furious attack against Russian media for deploying “lying propaganda” to try and smear his election campaign.
In a bid to brush off the attacks, Putin said: “Actions cannot be based on hunches, hunches that are moreover unconfirmed.”
The Russian leader seemed aware of the potential that Americans could potentially release evidence linking the 2016 cyberattacks to the Russian government, and to defend his nation, he said modern technology can be “manipulated”.