Vladimir Putin says the Panama Papers are part of a Western effort to weaken Russia

He said the allegations are part of a US-led disinformation campaign waged against Russia to weaken its government

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The Independent Online

President Vladimir Putin has rejected his links to offshore accounts uncovered in the Panama Papers and called the leaks part of Western efforts to weaken Russia. 

Speaking in St Petersburg, the President said even though his name did not figure in any of the documents leaked, Western media published the claims of his involvement in offshore businesses.

He went on to describe the allegations as part of a US-led disinformation campaign waged against Russia to weaken its government.

Mr Putin was not named in the Panama Papers, but the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists said some of the Russian President's closest allies are involved in offshore financial schemes.

Earlier this week, the Kremlin blamed "Putinophobia" for claims some of Mr Putin's associates moved millions of dollars through offshore companies in a series of covert deals.

In his first statement on the Panama Papers, Mr Putin said one of his closest friends, cellist Sergei Roldugin, had done nothing wrong. Mr Roldugin was revealed as the owner £1.42 billion in offshore assets.

What are the Panama Papers?

Over 11.5 million files were leaked from the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca. The documents contain information on 215,000 offshore entities, connected to individuals in more than 200 countries and territories.

The leaks caused the Prime Minister of Iceland to step aside for "an unspecified amount of time" after it was revealed he and his wife had bought an offshore firm in the British Virgin Islands.

Additional reporting by agencies