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Russian state news outlets covered the Pandora Papers, but made no mention of the involvement of Putin's inner circle

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Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin. Vladimir Smirnov\TASS via Getty Images
  • Russian state media outlets made no mention of Putin while covering the leaked Pandora Papers.

  • The leaked files describe riches amassed by a woman said to be Putin's mistress.

  • Russian official reporting followed the Kremlin's line of attacking US tax loopholes.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Russian state media agencies omitted any mention of damaging information about Vladimir Putin in its coverage of the Pandora Papers leak.

Among the revelations in the trove of leaked financial records is that a woman who reportedly had years-long a clandestine relationship with Putin, Svetlana Krivonogikh, is the owner of a luxury property in Monaco.

The claim was reported by outlets including The Guardian which had access to the Pandora Papers, a vast array of documents leaked from financial-service providers around the world.

It was one of a number of assets valued at around $100 million that the papers indicate Krivonogikh owned, according to the reports. The papers indicate that Monaco was where several members of Putin's circle had assets.

The Kremlin has previously rejected claims of a relationship between Putin and Krivonogikh.

The papers were investigated by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), and shared with outlets including The Washington Post and BBC.

But Putin was conspicuous by his absence in the report on the leak by Russia's state-owned RIA Novosti news agency.

It instead focussed on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, a foe of the Kremlin. According to the papers, he used offshore companies to buy luxury properties abroad

It is also paid attention to financier George Soros, a favored target of right-wing and Kremlin conspiracy theories, in an apparent bid to portray the leaks as a politically-motivated plot. (His Open Society Foundations is among 22 organisations that provides funding to the ICIJ.)

In its two English-language reports on the leaks TASS, Russia's other pre-eminent state news agency, also made no mention of Putin. Instead, it covered a statement from Russia's foreign ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, on the papers exposing the US as a tax haven.

Russian-language reports by TASS and RIA reviewed by Insider also covered the allegations in detail, but without mentioning Putin or his associates.

RT, the Russian state-backed TV network aimed mainly at a western audience, did mention Putin, but only in a bid to undermine reporting in the Guardian.

The outlet noted that "The Guardian had to admit in its reporting that the Russian president 'does not appear in the files by name.'"

"Instead, the paper focused on Putin's 'friends,' including billionaire businessman Gennady Timchenko, and Putin's rumored past 'girlfriend,' it said.

The Kremlin has long exerted tight control over the news media in Russia, and in recent months has engaged in a crackdown on independent media outlets in the country it has labelled "foreign agents."

The leaks of the so-called Panama Papers in 2016 also implicated members of Putin's inner circle with schemes to use networks of offshore companies to launder money obtained through corruption.

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