Putin’s spokesman denies involvement in offshore accounts

MOSCOW (AP) — The spokesman for Vladimir Putin has dismissed suggestions that the Russian president is involved in an offshore account scheme as a smear likely motivated by “Putinophobia.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin listens during a meeting in the Novo-Ogaryov residence outside Moscow on Monday, April 4, 2016.  (Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin listens during a meeting in the Novo-Ogaryov residence outside Moscow on Monday, April 4, 2016. (Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Documents published by more than 100 media outlets alleged that Putin’s friends, including a leading cellist, were engaged in an offshore scheme involving a law firm in Panama.

Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Monday that there was nothing to implicate Putin.

“I don’t consider it possible to go into the details,” he said, “mainly because there is nothing concrete and nothing new about Putin, and a lack of details.”

Peskov added that Sergei Rodulgin, a St. Petersburg-based cellist allegedly involved in the offshore schemes, was a friend of Putin’s but that the president “has very many friends.”

Instead, Peskov suggested, the publication was a smear campaign with Putin as its “main target,” with the aim of overshadowing Russian military intervention in Syria and influencing the Russian political scene ahead of parliamentary elections in September and presidential elections in 2018.

A climate of “Putinophobia” means good news about Russia is suppressed, he added.

Peskov, who had last week foreshadowed the disclosure of the documents by warning of an upcoming “information attack” on Putin, said Monday he expected more reports to follow.

In Russia, where the investigation was published by independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, the scandal faced an effective coverage ban. Russian television on Monday morning made no mention of it.

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