Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden joined a public question-and-answer session with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow via video.
Snowden asked Putin if Russia had similar surveillance programs as the United States--referring to the mass collection and storage of data from individuals around the world.
"Mr. Snowden, you are a former agent, a spy, I used to be working for an intelligence service, we are going to talk one professional language," Putin began, via a translator.
Putin explained that any intelligence operations were strictly regulated by Russian law, and required court permission to spy on an individual.
"We don't have a mass system of such interception, and according to our law, it cannot exist," he said. "But we do not have a mass scale uncontrollable efforts like that, I hope we won't do that and 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."
Putin said that Russian special forces did use surveillance to thwart terrorists and criminals
, but that it was regulated.
"Our special services, thank God, are strictly controlled by the society and by the law and regulated by the law," he concluded.