An unverified dossier accusing Russia of gathering sexually explicit material to blackmail U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has been published online by American news site Buzzfeed.
The report claims that the Russian government has been “cultivating, supporting and assisting” Trump over a number of years to help him reach the White House.
It also accuses the Kremlin of attempting to control Trump by using “compromising information” of “perverted sexual acts … arranged [or] monitored by [Russian security services] the FSB.”
Presidential Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov dismissed the claims, telling reporters on Wednesday that the Kremlin held no compromising material regarding the future president. "This information is not true and is an absolute fabrication," he said. "The Kremlin and the president are engaged in building relationships with our foreign partners in the interests of Russia, the Russian people and for global peace, stability and security."
He also denied that the Kremlin collected "compromising materials" on high-ranking figures, including Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Buzzfeed claimed that the dossier was a collection of high-level memos which had been “circulating among elected officials, intelligence agents, and journalists for weeks.” The website stressed that the allegations were unverified, and invited readers to contact journalists if they had any further information.
“BuzzFeed News is publishing the full document so that Americans can make up their own minds,” the website wrote.
The report’s summary claims that Russian President Vladimir Putin had championed Trump in order to “encourage splits and divisions in the Western alliance.”
The President-elect turned down several real estate deals offered by the Kremlin as “sweeteners,” but allegedly received intelligence from Moscow on a number of topics, including his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
Trump took to Twitter to rebuke the claims, dismissing them as “fake news.”
Experts and journalists have found several errors in the report, including the misspelling of prominent Russian company the Alfa Group.
Others have said that the report’s header – which reads “confidential/sensitive source” – does not fall in line with UK or U.S. intelligence agency guidelines on classified information.
A number of news outlets, including U.S. news network CNN and the UK’s Guardian newspaper, said that they had also seen the documents in recent weeks, but had declined to publish them as they could not be verified.
In an e-mail sent to staff on Tuesday night, Buzzfeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith defended his decision as a “reflection on the job of reporters in 2017.”
“Our presumption is to be transparent in our journalism and to share what we have with our readers,” he wrote in the e-mail, which he later published on Twitter. “In this case, the document was in wide circulation at the highest levels of the American government and media.”
“As noted in our story, there is serious reason to doubt the allegations,” Smith wrote. “We have been chasing specific claims in this document for weeks and will continue to do so.”