The Russian government has issued a number of aggressive statements defending President Vladimir Putin and accusing those releasing the “Panama Papers,” a series of detailed banking documents exposing the wealth of many world leaders, of attempting to smear Russia directly.
“Putin, Russia, our country, our stability and the upcoming elections are the main target, specifically to destabilise the situation,” retorted Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
Though the investigation mentions other countries and other leaders, it is obvious for us that the main aim of such attacks was and is our president, especially in the context of upcoming parliamentary election and in the context of long-term prospects of presidential election in two years.
A hack released over 11.5 million documents from Mossack Fonseca, a law firm in Panama. The leak exposed how the richest in the world maintain their money and assets in offshore accounts. The discovery included “the movement of $2 billion by associates” of Putin.
“It’s evident that the level of Putinophobia has reached such a degree that it’s impossible to say anything good about Russia a priori,” continued Peskov.
He also alleged the journalists who researched the leaked papers include “former officials from the (US) Department of State, the CIA and other special services.”
“I can rather express disappointment here,” said Peskov, adding:
In many ways, when we talk about this community, traditions of qualitative journalistic investigations have sunk into oblivion. Lots of things are lacking [in the investigation made public the day before]. They stop at nothing, invent and falsify facts. They actually prepare themselves, make information public and then promote it in target audiences.
The papers show musician Sergei Roldugin, a personal friend of Putin, “made millions from deals that would have been hard to do without his knowledge.” The USA Today reports:
An unnamed spokesman for businessman Arkady Rotenberg confirmed to the RBC news service that Rotenberg had given loans to Roldugin, but the loans were commercial and several times smaller than the ones alleged in the documents just released.
According to the report, Roldugin controlled two offshore companies — Sonnette Overseas and International Media Oversees [sic] — which received loans from three offshore companies belonging to Rotenberg totaling $185 million.
Iceland’s prime minister said he will not resign, even though the Panama Papers “linked him to an offshore company that could represent a serious conflict of interest.” French President François Hollande celebrated the leaked documents since they may help governments punish tax evaders.
“The whistle-blowers do a useful work for the international community; they’re taking risks, so they must be protected,” he declared.