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MOCSOW, April 14. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin believes that the authors of the so-called Panama Papers "throw dust into people’s eyes." The shot they fired went wide, he added.
"Odd as it may seem, they do not publish falsehoods about offshores. The information is correct. One has the impression that it was authored not by journalists, but by lawyers," Putin said on Thursday, while answering questions at the live phone-in officially called the Direct Line with Vladimir Putin.
Putin explained that judging by the style of the text and the facts mentioned the authors of the publication did not accuse anybody. "That’s the main point," he remarked.
"They just throw dust into people’s eyes. They allege that some of my friends do some business. So the question they ask is if there is any chance the money from the offshores may end up in the hands of some officials, including the president," Putin said about the underlying aims the authors of the publication pursued.
Putin is confident that the Panama Papers report has sponsors.
"Who is behind these provocations? We know that there are people - staff members of American official institutions," Putin said.
According to him, the first publication of Panama Papers documents "first appeared in the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung, which is a part of media holding company owned by American investment banking firm Goldman Sachs." The sponsors are obvious, and they "don’t even blush", he added.
Putin once again said that his friend, Russian cellist Sergey Roldugin who featured in offshore schemes revelations spent all his money on unique musical instruments handed over to the state.
"We in Russia can imagine a bribe in the form of "greyhound puppies" but I have never head of violins and cellos used for that," Putin said.
Musical instruments purchased by Roldugin are unique and well known to specialists and therefore manipulations with them are impossible, the President said. "It is impossible to sell or cash them. Two violins and two cellos purchased by Roldugin are unique. The price of the last one he bought was about $12 mln," Putin added.
The musician "reflected on transfer of these [instruments] to the state and is now dealing with formalization of that," the Head of State said. "Swindlers of all sorts are requested to calm nerves - Sergey Pavlovich [Roldugin] has nothing anymore because he spent more funds than he had to purchase these instruments and was left indebted to entities through which he purchased them," Putin added.
After the Q&A aession, the president specified that he considered the publication of the Panama Papers a targeted information attack.
"We do not consider this to be a plot. I have never said this. But I believe that this is a targeted information attack," Putin told reporters after the question and answer session.
Putin explained that no one of the Russian leadership is included in these documents, but "there is an evident wish to link this problem to us."
The Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) published on April 3 extracts from 11.5 million documents with data on offshore accounts of some incumbent and former world leaders. The report dubbed the Panama Papers is based on information leaks from the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, which provides assistance in registering companies in offshore zones. Authors of the investigation claim that these operations could be tied to associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin, but the Russian leader’s name is not actually mentioned in the files.