A day after U.S. authorities indicted two Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) officers over a massive hack targeting Yahoo, the Kremlin reiterated its claim that the Russian state has never been involved in any cyberattacks.
"As we have said many times earlier, any official involvement by any Russian agency, including the FSB, in any unlawful activities on the Internet is out of the question," President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters on March 16.
He was responding to a question about the U.S. Justice Department's March 15 announcement that FSB officers Dmitry Dokuchayev and Igor Sushchin had been charged in absentia along with two other men -- a Russian and a Kazakh-born Canadian.
The blanket denial echoed statements the Kremlin has issued in response to allegations by U.S. intelligence officials that Russia used hacks, leaks, and other methods to interfere in the U.S. presidential election in 2016.
Asked whether FSB officers could have been involved in cyberattacks without their supervisors' knowledge, Peskov took issue with the wording of the question and referred reporters to the FSB for any further information.
Peskov also said that Russian authorities had learned about the U.S. indictments from the media, suggesting that U.S. authorities had not informed Russian officials of the investigation or any developments in the case.
"As far as we know, we did not receive any information through official channels," he said. He said the Kremlin is unaware of the details of the U.S. case.
Dokuchayev was an officer with the FSB’s Center for Information Security, which oversees cybersecurity efforts by the agency.
He was arrested in Russia in December, along with another officer at the Center for Information Security, and charged with high treason, according to Ivan Pavlov, a Russian lawyer who is representing a suspect in the treason case.
Russian media reports have said Dokuchayev is a former hacker who used the alias Forb.
With reporting by Interfax, RIA, TASS, and Reuters