President Vladimir Putin on Thursday denied having any links to offshore accounts and described the Panama Papers document leaks scandal as part of a U.S.-led plot to weaken Russia.
Putin also defended a cellist friend named as the alleged owner of an offshore company, describing him as a philanthropist who spent his own funds to buy rare musical instruments for Russian state collections.
Speaking at a media forum in St. Petersburg, Putin said Western media pushed the claims of his involvement in offshore businesses even though his name didn't feature in any of the documents leaked from a Panamanian law firm.
Putin described the allegations as part of the U.S.-led disinformation campaign waged against Russia in order to weaken its government. "They are trying to destabilize us from within in order to make us more compliant," he said.