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Putin warns Kremlin journalists that US intelligence is tapping their phones

Source: Interfax

At a news conference in Goa, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Kremlin journalists that they are being monitored by the United States' National Security Agency.

"You are a part of the presidential pool and, therefore, carry certain information. You can see something, hear [something], speak to someone. You chat freely on the telephone ... [voice] everything that you see fit," news agency Interfax cited Putin as saying.

"A case can be initiated against each and every one of you, and that is likely how it is, and all your conversations can be kept track of. All this is systematized [by the NSA]," Putin said, adding that Russian intelligence agencies "operate strictly within the framework of Russian legislation" and implement court decisions, while American intelligence agencies "violate even American laws".

Putin said that relations between Russia and the United States have not necessarily deteriorated because of the situation in Syria. Instead, he said that relations have been worsening since the 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia by NATO forces. "That is where it all started. I was not even President back then," he said.

Relations between Russia and the United States deteriorated further in the autumn of 2016 against the backdrop of a failed truce in Syria, as well as American accusations that Russian hackers have been trying to interfere with the upcoming United States elections.

On October 3, 2016, Putin proposed that the United States lift its sanctions against the Russian Federation and compensate Russia both for the damages that it incurred as a direct result of Western sanctions and for the damages that it incurred as a result of its own counter-sanctions against the United States. This request was included in a bill on Russia's withdrawal from an agreement its has with the United States on the disposal of weapons-grade plutonium.

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