In a biting attack, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday accused the outgoing U.S. administration of trying to undermine President-elect Donald Trump by spreading fake allegations and said those who are doing it are "worse than prostitutes."
The statement reflected the Kremlin's boiling anger at President Barack Obama's administration, which declined to comment on Putin's accusation.
Asked about an unsubstantiated dossier outlining unverified claims that Trump engaged in sexual activities with prostitutes at a Moscow hotel, Putin dismissed it as "fake" and "nonsense" and said it was part of efforts by Obama's administration to "undermine the legitimacy of the president-elect" despite his "convincing" victory.
Trump earlier rejected the sexual allegations as "fake news" and "phoney stuff."
Putin's broadside at the White House reveals a culmination of tensions between Moscow and Washington, which have built up over the Ukrainian crisis, the Syrian war and the allegations of Russian meddling in the U.S. election.
"People who order such fakes against the U.S. president-elect, fabricate them and use them in political struggle are worse than prostitutes," Putin said. "They have no moral restrictions whatsoever, and it highlights a significant degree of degradation of political elites in the West, including in the United States."
He spoke in Moscow during a news conference following talks with the president of Moldova.
The Russian leader ridiculed the authors of the Trump dossier for alleging that Russian spy agencies were collecting compromising material on Trump when he visited Moscow in 2013 for the Miss Universe pageant.
"He wasn't a politician, we didn't even know about his political ambitions," Putin said. "Do they think that our special services are hunting for every U.S. billionaire?"
Putin also sarcastically suggested that Trump, who met the world's most beautiful women at the pageant, had a better choice for female companionship than Moscow prostitutes, even though Putin claimed "they are also the best in the world."
He said Trump's foes are ready to go as far as to "stage a Maidan in Washington to prevent Trump from entering office," in reference to the alleged U.S. role in organizing protests in the main square of the Ukrainian capital, the Maidan, which forced the nation's Russia-friendly president from power in 2014.
"People who are doing that are inflicting a colossal damage to the interests of the United States," Putin said.
Putin also charged that those spreading allegations against Trump want to "bind the president-elect hand and foot to prevent him from fulfilling his election promises."
"How can you do anything to improve U.S.-Russian relations when they launch such canards as hackers' interference in the election?" he said.