June 2 (UPI) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin denied Friday that his government had anything to do with hacking operations aimed at disrupting the U.S. election last year.
In an interview with NBC News Friday, the Russian president said just about anyone could be behind the cyberattacks involving Democratic computer servers.
"[Internet protocol] addresses can be invented -- a child can do that," he told NBC News correspondent Megyn Kelly, who asked Putin about the U.S. intelligence community's assessment that he gave at least tacit approval for the hacks. "Your underage daughter could do that. That is not proof."
"We didn't do this. Stop this," he added. "There is no specific evidence, no facts, just assumptions, allegations and conclusions based on those allegations nothing more."
Putin made his second denial in as many days regarding purported Russian involvement.
Thursday, Putin suggested that free-spirited Russians hackers, behaving more like artists than espionage agents, could have broken into the Democratic National Committee computers. That admission was a reversal of Putin's prior position, that of complete denial of a Russian connection to the hacking that some Democrats blame for the loss of the election.
Putin also said hackers, "if they are patriotic, they start contributing, as they see it, in the fight against those who do not speak well about Russia."
While making it clear that Russian freelancers, and not state-sponsored computer experts, may have meddled to the detriment of Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton, the comments have a pattern similar to that of Russia's explanation of its involvement in Crimea in 2014 and in Syria in 2015. The Kremlin initially denied presence in those countries but after evidence of military presence became overwhelming, the government said Russian troops were there vacationing or as humanitarian workers.
Putin also dismissed reports of Russian collusion with the administration of President Donald Trump as "fake news," blaming an "anti-Russian" media campaign meant to deny Russia a position as a global power.