Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a news conference after a meeting with his Moldovan counterpart Igor Dodon at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, January 17, 2017. REUTERS/Sergei Ilnitsky/Pool(reuters_tickers)
By Denis Dyomkin
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday he doubted U.S. President-elect Donald Trump had met with prostitutes in a Moscow hotel room several years ago, referring to an unverified dossier published last week that Trump has dismissed as "fake news".
"Trump arrived and straight away rushed to meet with Moscow prostitutes. This is an adult man and, apart from that, is a man who for many years took part in organising beauty contests. He has socialised with the most beautiful women in the world," Putin said in response to a question from a reporter from pro-Kremlin news agency Life about whether he had seen files or videos suggesting Trump had met with prostitutes.
"I find it difficult to believe that he ran to a hotel to meet with our girls of reduced social responsibility," Putin said at a news conference in Moscow with Moldova's President Igor Dodon.
Trump, a New York businessman who will be inaugurated as U.S. president on Friday, has dismissed reports that Russia had compromising information on him as "fake news" and "phony stuff."
Reuters has not independently verified the claims contained in the dossier.
The information was summarised in a U.S. intelligence report presented to Trump and President Barack Obama this month. James Clapper, director of national intelligence, has said the dossier was not produced by U.S. intelligence agencies and they have not judged whether the information is reliable.
Putin said it was "total nonsense" that Russian intelligence had followed Trump to gather compromising material on him and reiterated that he had never met Trump.
"Trump, when he came to Moscow, and I can't even remember when that was, ... he wasn't any sort of political figure. We didn't even know about his political ambitions," Putin said.
"What, someone thinks the special services chase after every American billionaire? Of course not, that's total nonsense."
(Writing by Alexander Winning and Andrey Ostroukh; Editing by Janet Lawrence)