Panama Papers: Putin Attacks Leak as Part of Western Efforts to Weaken Russia

Russia's president defends himself against allegations of corrupt links to offshore accounts, calling leaked documents an 'information product.'

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during the Interior Ministry Board meeting in Moscow, Russia, March 15, 2016.

REUTERS - Russian President Vladimir Putin denied Thursday having any links to offshore accounts and described the Panama Papers document leaks scandal as part of Western efforts to weaken Russia.

Putin, speaking Thursday at a media forum in St. Petersburg, says even though his name didn't figure in any of the documents leaked from a Panamanian law firm, Western media pushed the claims of his involvement in offshore businesses.

"Our opponents are above all concerned by the unity and consolidation of the Russian nation, our multi-national Russian people. They are attempting to rock us from within, to make us more obedient," he said. "So they've created an information product."

Putin described the allegations as part of the U.S.-led disinformation campaign waged against Russia in order to weaken its government, and said his longtime friend, cellist Sergei Roldugin, who figured in the Panama Papers as the owner of $2 billion in offshore assets, has done nothing wrong. He said he was proud of Roldugin, adding that the musician spent his personal money to advance cultural projects in Russia.

"There is a certain friend of the president of Russia, he did such and such a thing, and there is probably a corruption element there," Putin said, referring to allegations that he was involved in corrupt schemes with Sergei Roldugin.

"But there isn't any (element of corruption)."