Indeed! Russia also requires all telcoms and ISPs, at their expense, to install monitoring equipment of the internet and telephones, This project is called SORM (wikipedia entry for SORM
). The system was put into place around 1996-2000, but it has been used as recently as the Winter Olympics (source
). It is explicitly a mass-surveillance system, so either Putin is lying or he is bending the truth: Russia doesn't pay for it... but by law the telcoms have to pay it. They don't do illegal wiretapping because it is explicitly legal. And you're right, they might not have the ability to store all that data for long periods of time, but you can be sure they are targeting people. And you can be sure they are targeting foreign governments too (of course). Heck, there were several diplomatic leaks at the beginning of the Crimean crises in order to strain US-EU ties. You can be sure that's due to Russia's intelligence services.