World

MOSCOW (Web Desk) – Viladimir Putin has denied “any element of corruption” over the Panama Papers leaks, saying his opponents are trying to destabilise Russia.

The Russian president was speaking for the first time since the leak of millions of confidential documents from the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca.

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The papers revealed a number of offshore companies owned by close associates of President Putin. They suggest the companies may have been used for money laundering.

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Putin, speaking live on TV, said Russia’s 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”.

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He said that because they could not find him in the Panama papers “they’ve made an information product”.

“They’ve found a few of my acquaintances and friends… and scraped up something from there and stuck it together.”

The papers name Putin’s long-time friend and godfather to his daughter, Sergei Roldugin, as the owner of two offshore firms, International Media Overseas and Sonnette Overseas.

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According to the papers, the firms were involved in a number of suspicious deals, including one in which International Media Overseas received a loan of $6m (£4.2m) in 2007, which was written off three months later for just $1.

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Mr Roldugin has not yet publicly commented on the allegations.

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Putin did not go into the details of allegations against Mr Roldugin or other Russian offshore interests, but he praised his friend, the BBC reported on Thursday.

The president said he was proud of people like Mr Roldugin who he said had spent nearly all the money he had earned on musical instruments and donating money to state institutions.