Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied links with any offshore accounts disclosed in the Panama Papers. He also said the leaks were fake and the whole scandal was a US plot to weaken Russia.
Panama Papers had named Putin’s close associate cellist Sergei Roldugin as the owner of two offshore firms, International Media Overseas, and Sonnette Overseas.
Speaking at a media forum in St. Petersburg, Putin defended the cellist friend and described him as a philanthropist who used to spend personal funds to buy rare musical instruments for the Russian state, reports Military Times.
Putin said Western media dragged some names to show him as corrupt whereas his involvement figures nowhere in the leaked documents.
Putin described the allegations as the US-led disinformation campaign. “They are trying to destabilize us from within in order to make us more compliant,” he said.
The Russian leader alleged that Washington was cooking up allegations of Russian corruption to weaken Moscow as the US is concerned about Russia’s growing economic and military clout.
“The events in Syria have demonstrated Russia’s capability to solve problems far away from its borders,” he said.
However, Putin’s charge was rejected by the US State Department spokesman Mark Toner. “I would reject the premise that we’re in any way involved in the actual leak of these documents,” Toner told reporters in Washington.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists also said the leaked documents very much indicated Roldugin was a front man for a network of Putin loyalists or the president himself.
The ICIJ asserted that the Russian businessman’s offshore accounts had channeled at least $2 billion to a network of people linked to the Russian president.
A report by the BBC said Putin also referred to Wikileaks tweets to support his contention. It accused the US government organisations such as the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and USAid of having funded “the #PanamaPapers attack on Putin.”
The Russin President added that the Western opponents “are worried by the unity and solidarity of the Russian nation… and that is why they are attempting to rock us from within, to make us more obedient.”