MOSCOW (NYTIMES) - President Vladimir Putin of Russia declared on Tuesday (Jan 17) that the political memo alleging that the Kremlin had sought for years to influence President-elect Donald Trump was "fake," and he said that the effort to compile such a dossier was further evidence of the political decay of the West - one of the Russian leader's favourite themes.
Putin also accused the departing US administration of trying to undermine President Barack Obama's successor, saying that Russian spies had better things to do than chase rich American businessmen and try to catch them in compromising situations.
"These bogus stories are clearly fake," Putin said at a news conference of allegations that included Trump cavorting with prostitutes while visiting Russia.
"He is a grown man, somebody who for many years has been organising beauty contests, interacted with the most beautiful women in the world," he added.
"You know, it is difficult for me to imagine that he ran to a hotel to meet with our young women with lowered social responsibility."
While denouncing prostitution as a "horrible social phenomenon," Putin also boasted about Russian exceptionalism, adding: "Even though they are undoubtedly the best in the world, too. I doubt that Trump would go for that."
There is a frenzy of attention in Russia focused on the change in administration in Washington, even by the standards of state-run television, which generally devotes more time covering the United States than it does the rest of the world.
Rossiya 24, a round-the-clock cable news station, is broadcasting a countdown to Trump's inauguration on Friday (Jan 20), featuring a new segment every day that highlights some slice of the president-elect's biography.
News of the Week, Russian state television's flagship programme, devoted most of its two-and-a-half-hour show Sunday night to bashing the Obama administration and lauding the pending Trump presidency.
The tone of some of the public statements in Russia has been gleeful.
"January 20 will be a historical day," said Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of the Liberal Democratic Party and an outspoken ally of Putin. "I ask everyone to shave themselves, put on their best suits, sit down to tables at 8 pm and lift a glass of champagne."