A New York Times investigation based on nearly 160,000 leaked files from Russia's telecom agency and published Thursday suggests the country has erected a massive surveillance network under President Vladimir Putin

"The internet regulator is part of a larger tech apparatus that Mr. Putin has built over the years which also includes a domestic spying system that intercepts phone calls and internet traffic, online disinformation campaigns and the hacking of other nations' government systems," The Times reported.

Russia has also reportedly invested heavily in facial recognition, expanding its use of the technology since 2020.

"[The recent leak] is just like a small keyhole look into the actual scale of the censorship and internet surveillance in Russia," said Leonid Volkov, chief of staff to Russia's opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

Both are named in the documents obtained by the Times. Navalny, who was poisoned in 2020, is currently in jail.

The leaked files belong to Roskomnadzor, the Russia regulator with broad authority over mass communications, the internet and most telecommunications in the country. The Times found the regulator closely tied to Russia's top intelligence agency, the FSB.

The Times also reported that the leaked files show Russia broadly surveilling protestors of the country's invasion of Ukraine. Since the invasion, Russia has reportedly arrested nearly 16,000 people and blocked over 7000 websites.