"Usually these kinds of leaks take place not because hackers broke in, but, as any professional will tell you, because someone simply forgot the password or set the simple password 123456," German Klimenko, Putin's top Internet adviser, said in remarks carried by the RIA Novosti state news agency. "Well, it's always simpler to explain this away as the intrigues of enemies, rather than one's own incompetence."
"I absolutely rule out the possibility that the government or government agencies were involved in this," Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for President Vladimir Putin, told journalists in a curt statement.
Western officials have accused Russia of conducting a campaign of high-profile hacking attacks that have included cyberattacks in 2007 against Estonia, a 2014 assault on Ukraine's power grid and a breach of the White House's unclassified email server last year. The latest revelations risked plunging the Kremlin into the midst of a heated U.S. election cycle that has captured the attention of a Moscow elite eager for change in Washington.
Over the years, the Kremlin has grown used to brushing off these kinds of accusations. Reports of hacking have become "ubiquitous," Dmitri Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center and a former Russian army officer, said by telephone. "I don't think that it's something they will be really talking much about or worried about."
Most state television channels, through which the vast majority of Russians get their information, did not air reports on the allegations. Some of the few official comments, posted online by Russian news agencies, were dismissive.
Russian officials have addressed the U.S. elections sparingly. Putin has offered guarded praise for Trump, calling him "lively" and "talented" during a nationally televised news conference in December. But, on the whole, the Russian leader has stayed silent on the U.S. presidential race.
Fyodor Lukyanov, a well-connected political analyst in Moscow and the editor of Russia in Global Affairs, a foreign policy journal, said that there is great interest in the U.S. elections among Russian elites and that many see Trump as potentially a better partner for Russia than Hillary Clinton.
"I don't see why they would be interested in doing this, which would just electrify the campaign of the Democratic candidate," Lukyanov said, noting that he wasn't briefed on the specifics of the hacking case. "I think in the case of these reports that many people are just used to seeing the scary ghost of Mr. Putin."
Trenin echoed that thought. "I would be suspicious that that would be a target of importance to foreign intelligence," he said. The DNC is a "soft" target compared with the National Security Council, he added. "They would likely spend their resources elsewhere. Then again, I don't know."