Report: former Kremlin chief of staff denies U.S.-reported oil-for-food wrongdoing

Former Kremlin chief of staff Alexander Voloshin denies he received oil allocations from Iraq under the United Nations' oil-for-food program, a news agency report said Thursday.

The U.S. Senate said in a report last week that Russia's Presidential Council, led by Voloshin, had received some US$16 million (Ђ13 million) under the program. The report said an array of Russian officials and politicians had received such allocations in exchange for supporting an end to international sanctions against Iraq.

The sanctions were imposed after Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait and the oil-for-food program was established to allow Saddam Hussein's government to sell limited amounts of oil in order to buy food, medicine and other humanitarian supplies to ease the effect of the sanctions on everyday Iraqis.

"I never was in Iraq and I never associated with Iraqis either directly or through intermediaries," Voloshin said Wednesday, according to the RIA-Novosti news agency. "I never took part, either directly or indirectly, in deals connected with quotas on Iraqi oil."

The U.S. report also identified Russian ultranationalist politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who made many trips to Iraq, as having received lucrative oil allocations. Zhirinovsky on Monday denied the allegations.

Russia firmly opposed the sanctions regime against Iraq.


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