Russian president Vladimir Putin’s official mouthpiece has some things to say about the Panama Papers. According to Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov, the massive report, coordinated by 400 journalists from 100 media organizations in 80 countries is, firstly, a personal attack on Putin.
The report tied twelve current world leaders to secret offshore accounts via the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonesca. Among their clients: the King of Saudi Arabia, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, 29 out of the 500 billionaires on Forbes’ list of the world’s richest people, companies blacklisted for doing business with Hezbollah and North Korea, as well as “Ponzi schemers, drug kingpins, tax evaders, at least one jailed sex offender” and Jackie Chan. Vladimir Putin was linked to $2 billion worth of offshore accounts, mostly run in the name of his good friend, cellist Sergei Roldugin.
In a press conference earlier today, Peskov said that he’s been expecting some sort of an “information attack” on the President for some time. These were bad journalists, he said, and they did a bad job, because he “learned nothing new.” They also weren’t even journalists, primarily, but were being paid by “a company connected to attempts” to disrupt Russia’s “stability” and its successes in Syria, and “to discredit the government and, most of all, the discredit the president.”
Peskov dropped words like “information product,” “dump” and “PR” generously, which are all terms referring to deliberate and false hit jobs by foreign agents. But he used a new word too: “Putinophobia,” which he says is so big abroad now that “you can’t say anything nice about Russia” anymore. What a catchy new word. (Oh, look, RT is already using it.)
The Press Secretary’s wife was also implicated in a connection to an offshore account, which Peskov denied. In 2015, when opposition blogger and politician Navalny called Peskov out for wearing a $620,000 watch, he said it was a gift from Ms. Navka and how she spent her money “is no one else’s business.”
When asked if Putin was still close to his cellist buddy, Peskov said, “Roldugin, and many, many other people from various industries continue to be Putin’s friends. Putin has many friends, in Russia and abroad.”
The Russian state press treaded very lightly in their mentions of the story today, with focus drawn purposely away from “a certain legal personality in Russia” and onto the offshore secrets of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who was elected on an anti-corruption platform. The former Mayor of Odessa, Gennadiy Trukhanov, was also linked to an offshore account, as well as a Russian passport. He called the Panama Papers “a deluge of lies and an unsuccessful April fool’s joke.”