Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures as he speaks with the media after his annual televised call-in show in central Moscow on April 14, 2016. / AFP / ALEXANDER NEMENOV
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Media reports about offshore accounts in Panama are a "provocation," Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday, blaming U.S. officials and U.S. bank Goldman Sachs for attempts to influence Russian elections.The revelations included details of offshore companies belonging to Sergei Roldulgin, a famous Russian cellist who was a childhood friend of Putin and is godfather to his eldest daughter, Maria.Putin reiterated his defense of Rodulgin, portraying the scandal as a conspiracy orchestrated by U.S. officials and financiers aimed against Putin and his government.Putin answered questions from adults and children from around the country during the highly scripted event, which he used to burnish his image as a strong leader who protects Russia from foreign threats and cares about ordinary people's needs.Asked about strained ties with Turkey, Ukraine and some other nations, Putin said Russia is ready for friendly relations with all but will retaliate against any hostile moves.Putin wouldn't say whether he will seek another six-year term in 2018, although he is widely expected to run.
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