Panama Papers: Kremlin claims 'Putinophobia'

Tatiana Navka, the wife of Putin's aide, is implicated in the leaks. Photo / Getty
Tatiana Navka, the wife of Putin's aide, is implicated in the leaks. Photo / Getty

President Putin is the victim of a Western plot designed to topple him through allegations members of his inner circle used an offshore tax haven, the Kremlin has claimed.

It insisted that 'Putinophobia' has become so great in the West that if there is nothing bad to say about the country it must be 'made up'.

It comes as the Russian leader was accused of ordering a media blackout of the claims his closest circle laundered money and evaded tax using the services of Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca.

Among those accused is the glamorous wife of Putin's influential spokesman Dmitry Peskov, despite her claim that she had no knowledge of 'any offshore companies'.

'Putin, Russia, our country, our stability and the upcoming elections are the main target,' said spokesman Dmitry Peskov today, following the stunning revelations.

'Although Putin is not mentioned anywhere, for us, of course, it is obvious that our president was and is the main target of such attacks, especially in the context of the coming parliamentary election, and in the long run, I mean the presidential election in two years.'

He continued: 'Putinophobia has got so hot that a priori nobody can say anything good about Russia, they must say bad things and if there is nothing to say, one must make something up.'

The wife of Peskov, Tatiana Navka, is listed among the alleged clients of the top-secret Panamanian law firm.

The ice dancer and 2006 Olympic champion was listed as the beneficiary of offshore company Carina Global Assets Ltd - based in the British Virgin islands - from its 2014 launch, until it was liquidated in November last year.

She was already romantically involved with Peskov at the time, and their daughter was born in August 2014. They then married in July 2015.

Intriguingly, Peskov's wife has been quoted as having no knowledge that she ran the company, despite a leaked document saying that its purpose was to 'buy investment assets to benefit its beneficiary' - namely her.

'I have never had any offshore companies or bank accounts,' said Miss Navka, 40.

'There were absolutely no foreign companies.'

But a copy of her passport was in the leaked papers for Carina Global Assets, which has a projected $1million assets, it was reported.

When asked if her documents could have been used without her knowledge regarding the offshore operation, she said: 'I don't know who might have done it. And personally I would like to figure it out.'

In response to the claims that his wife is implicated in the scandal, Peskov added: 'My wife never had any offshore company and does not have it now, she never opened it and, accordingly, she could not close it down.

'This is why I am inclined to doubt the rest of the information.'

Russian law forbids senior officials and their families from using foreign financial institutions and offshore vehicles.

Nevertheless, several major pro-Kremlin newspapers and websites failed to carry reports of the stunning revelations - leading to claims that the president has ordered a media blackout.

Among the platforms that have failed to cover the allegations is the official newspaper of the Russian government.

The Rossiyskaya Gazeta and the major website LifeNews are both seen as key supporters of the Putin government.

Others that failed to cover the story were major publications Izvestia, Moskovsky Komsomolets and Komsomolskaya Pravda.

Major television channels also did not rate the story worthy of coverage.

An exception was investigative newspaper Novaya Gazeta, whose journalists took part in examining the initial leak of papers from Mossack Fonseca.

Russian news agency TASS headlined that football figures Michel Platini and Lionel Messi 'are mentioned in papers about offshore transactions'.

The news agency also highlighted offshore claims against former president of Egypt Hosni Mubarak, former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and Iceland's PM Sigmundur Davio Gunnlaugsson before mentioning the allegations against Russian leaders.

'Apart from that, there are materials about the transactions of several Russian entities and individuals,' reported the agency.

'The authors of the investigation claim that these transactions can be tied to people in Vladimir Putin's circle.'

The report stressed: 'At the same time, the authors of the publication admitted that the name of the president hasn't been mentioned once in the papers they used.'

Those named in the leaked documents also included long-time friend of Putin, Sergey Roldugin, a cellist, who is also godfather to the president's daughter Maria and a shareholder in Bank Rossiya.

'I understand that other heads of states, governments and some sportsmen are mentioned,' continued spokesman Peskov.

'But after all it is obvious that the main target of this attack is our country, and President Putin personally.'

'In terms of the main part of the story,' he continued, 'it has nothing to do with us, it does not refer to the president.'

He added: 'Roldugin and many other people from different spheres and fields remain friends of President Putin.

'Putin has got many friends both in Russia and abroad.'

Peskov alleged that the West was hitting back because of Russian success in Syria.

He further claimed the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, a key player in the revelations, had ties to the U.S. government.

- Daily Mail

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