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    Putin to Poroshenko: Close Your Offshore Accounts Before Becoming European

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    President Putin's Annual Q&A Session 2017 (44)

    Russian President Vladimir Putin, commenting on Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko's "farewell" to Russia as the country gained a visa-free regime with the European Union, said Thursday that the Ukrainian leader should first close his offshore accounts before claiming to be European.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — On June 10, Poroshenko congratulated Ukrainians on the introduction of the visa free regime with the European Union during a ceremony in Kiev. Addressing the audience, Poroshenko cited Russian poet Mikhail Lermontov's famous words saying "Farewell! — unwashed, indigent Russia, The land of slaves, the state of lords, And you, its navy-coated marshals, And you, their dedicated herds."

    "If someone wants to be European, they should first close their offshore accounts and then speak of people’s welfare," Putin said during his annual "Direct Line" call-in session.

    According to Putin, there are a lot of good examples in both Russian and Ukrainian literature which could serve as a response to Poroshenko's words.

    "However, I will not do this out of respect for the Ukrainian people, our common history and common faith," Putin added.

    According to Putin, Lermontov's poem had been written when Lermontov, who served in the Russian Empire's military, moved to the Caucasus to defend his homeland and its interests.

    "At this moment, the territories that are considered to be Ukraine, were just parts of Russia, and if the Ukrainian president says that he is off somewhere, Lermontov said about the whole Russia, including the territories called Ukraine at the moment. That's why there is no need to patronize," Putin said, answering a question if he had heard Poroshenko's speech.

    According to the Russian president, Lermontov was a progressive person who wanted to see an improvement of the situation in Russia and voiced his own position clearly as a brave officer and a citizen.

    The Ukrainian leader also did not include the full text of the poem, Putin added.

    "By the way, if you remember, it says 'And you, navy-coated marshals, And you, their dedicated herds,' and there, where he [Poroshenko] is heading, there are more blue uniforms than we have, and he should not relax… should stay alert. At the same time, I want to say that we have nothing against those guys… We have nothing against you, we wish you love and harmony, and good luck," Putin said.

    "Lermontov was on his way to the army actively engaged in military operations in the Caucasus region, he was moving from one part of the Russian empire, from St. Petersburg… to another part, he was actually not leaving [the country]. Maybe, [Poroshenko] is signaling to us in this manner that he is also not going anywhere, but he does it subtly… he tells us, 'Guys, I have interests in Russia, I am actually not going anywhere.' But this is, of course, a bold guess," Putin said.

    "In reality, [Poroshenko] most likely wanted to show his electorate that he was fulfilling the promises he had given, making a civilized choice, as they call it now, leading his country to Europe," Putin said.

    On April 3, 2016, the German Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper revealed the alleged involvement of a number of former and current world prominent leaders in offshore schemes by publishing materials it claimed came from the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca.

    According to the Panama Papers leak, Poroshenko allegedly created an offshore company in 2014 to facilitate the transfer of the management of his business into a "blind trust."

    The Ukrainian leader has already been slammed for his alleged involvement in the schemes exposed in the Mossack Fonseca leak. The Opposition Radical Party of Ukraine has started to collect signatures for a petition to impeach Poroshenko for using tax heavens.

    On June 1, 2016, Ukraine's parliament did not support the decision to create a special commission to investigate the possible involvement of the Ukrainian president in offshore tax-avoidance schemes.

    President Putin's Annual Q&A Session 2017 (44)


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