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Amid offshore furore, Putin says earned $134,000 last year

April 15, 2016

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday declared frugal earnings worth some $134,000 (118,000 euros) last year after the leaked Panama Papers revealed the vast offshore holdings of his close circle.

Putin in his annual declaration for 2015 declared earnings that were up $18,600 on last year at the current exchange rate.

He said he still owns the same meagre property as last year: a 77-square-metre flat, a garage, three Soviet-era cars and a trailer.

The Russian leader’s latest declaration came after the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists found his close friend cellist Sergei Roldugin headed an offshore empire that had apparently controlled around $2 billion.

Putin has denied any corruption, saying that Roldugin used the money to buy musical instruments including a Stradivari cello.

Putin nevertheless acknowledged in his annual phone-in on Thursday that the information in the Panama Papers is factually “correct,” while stressing it proves nothing against him.

Separately, the Russian edition of Forbes magazine on Thursday listed a businessman named in media reports as the husband of Putin’s daughter Katerina, Kirill Shamalov, as Russia’s youngest billionaire with a fortune of $1.2 billion.

Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov — who also features in the Panama Papers along with his wife, figure skater Tatiana Navka — declared earnings far exceeding Putin’s at $553,000.

Navka, an Olympic ice dancer, declared 2015 earnings of $1.3 million, without detailing their source, as well as four properties including a US apartment and three luxury cars.

The Panama Papers named Navka as the beneficiary of an offshore investment company between 2014 and November 2015.

Peskov has denied that Navka has ever had offshore investments.

A Russian official’s spouse is legally barred from benefitting from any foreign financial instrument and has three months to get rid of such assets after marriage, under a 2013 law.

Peskov and Navka held a glitzy wedding party in August 2015 but Peskov has refused to name the date when they formally registered their marriage.

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.