Putin was taping a live question-and-answer session for television when Snowden, who lives in Russia, called in via video link.
“I’ve seen little public discussion of Russia's own involvement in the policies of mass surveillance, so I'd like to ask you: Does Russia intercept, store or analyze, in any way, the communications of millions of individuals?” Snowden asked.
Putin claimed that Russia did not spy on its citizens that way, and that Russian officials would need a court order to “stalk” any particular individual.
“Our intelligence efforts are strictly regulated by our law so ... you have to get a court permission to stalk that particular person,” Putin said, according to a translation. “We don't have as much money as they have in the States and we don't have these technical devices that they have in the States. Our special services, thank God, are strictly controlled by society and the law and regulated by the law.”
“Of course, we know that terrorists and criminals use technology so we have to use means to respond to these, but we don't have uncontrollable efforts like [in America],” Putin added.
Funny, these are the same responses NSA defenders give when discussing mass surveillance in America.