Putin admits Panama Papers ‘accurate,’ blames Washington

Updated 14 April 2016

Putin admits Panama Papers ‘accurate,’ blames Washington

MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday acknowledged the accuracy of the Panama Papers revelations, but claimed funds had been spent on musical instruments as he blamed the leak on the USes.
The Papers revealed that Putin’s associates, notably cellist Sergei Roldugin, “secretly shuffled as much as $2 billion through banks and shadow companies,” according to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).
During Putin’s annual phone-in with the nation, a male caller asked the president why he did not react to “slander in Western media and “unreliable information about offshores.”
Putin sighed, saying that “strange as it may seem, they are not publishing unreliable information about offshores. The information is accurate.”
“I get the impression it (the report) was put together not even by journalists but most likely by lawyers,” Putin said of the leaked information.
“They do not specifically accuse anyone of anything.”
The leaks “just serve to muddy the waters” by raising the possibility that “money from these offshores goes to some officials, including to the president,” Putin said.
Those who investigated the Panama papers were “wide of the mark,” he insisted.
He alleged that “staff of US official institutions” were working on the disclosures, which he called “acts of provocation” ahead of Russia’s parliamentary elections in September.
“We should not expect any repentance from them, they will keep doing it anyway and the closer the elections, the more smear campaigns there will be,” Putin said.
In patriotic rhetoric, Putin boasted that Russia “cannot be manipulated” and must be “spoken to with respect.”
He reiterated his defense of his cellist friend, insisting Roldugin spends all his money on costly musical instruments and is not corrupt.
“In Russia you can just about imagine a bribe paid in Borzoi puppies, but in violins and cellos? That’s a new one to me,” Putin said.
Roldugin has now spent all his money on instruments and is in debt, Putin added.
“Sergei Pavlovich has nothing left because he has spent more money on those instruments than he had,” Putin said, using a respectful patronymic.
Roldugin bought two cellos and two violins, Putin said.
“The last one he bought ... cost around $12 million,” Putin said, calling it a Stradivarius cello known as Stuart from 1732.


Taliban attack Afghan police base, 11 killed

Updated 28 January 2020

Taliban attack Afghan police base, 11 killed

KABUL, Afghanistan: Taliban militants attacked a police base in northern Afghanistan, killing 11, possibly with help from at least one of the policemen inside, local government officials said Tuesday.
The insurgents first overran a checkpoint near the base late Monday, and were apparently able to breach the compound with ease because a sympathetic policeman opened a door for them.
These details were provided by Mabobullah Ghafari, a provincial councilman in Baghlan province where the attack took place. A local police official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to brief reporters about the attack, also gave the same account.
Insider attacks have been steady throughout Afghanistan’s 18-year conflict, with US and NATO troops most often targeted. But when Afghan security forces are targeted, the casualty rate is often much higher.
Last July, two US service members were killed by an Afghan soldier in the southern Kandahar province. The shooter was wounded and arrested. In September, three US military personnel were wounded when a member of the Afghan Civil Order Police fired on a military convoy, also in Kandahar.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for Monday’s attack on the outskirts of Puli Khumri, Baghlan’s provincial capital. But the Taliban have a strong presence in the province and frequently target Afghan security forces in and around the city.
Last September, the insurgents attacked Puli Khumri and blocked the city’s main highway to the capital Kabul for more than a week.
The Taliban currently control or hold sway over around half the country.
The US and the Taliban are currently attempting to negotiate a reduction in hostilities or a cease-fire. That would allow a peace agreement to be signed that could bring home an estimated 13,000 American troops, and open the way to a broader post-war deal for Afghans.