Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday dismissed the Panama Papers leak that linked his associates to more than $2 billion in offshore funds as just a shadowy U.S.-backed “provocation” of Russia.
“They must understand that the issue is not about specific people, individuals, no matter what position they hold in Russia,” Putin said in remarks reported by Reuters. “The issue is about the country, which cannot be manipulated.”
Putin also defended his friend, cellist Sergei Roldugin, who was named in the documents. The Kremlin had already dismissed the entire leak as merely an attempt to damage Putin and Russia’s credibility before upcoming parliamentary elections.