Russian politicians vehemently deny their participation in oil-for-food scandal

Former head of Russian presidential Alexander VoloshinFormer head of presidential staff, former presidential aide and acting party leader try to prove they were disinterested while allocating oil quotas in Iraq

Former head of the Russian presidential staff Alexander Voloshin recently commented upon the scandalous claims of a U.S. Senate committee blaming him for machinations with Iraqi oil.

A report coming from the US Senate committee says that Russian companies and other organizations were offered quotas for Iraqi oil allocation in the framework of the oil-for-food program in exchange for Russia's support to Iraq in the UN Security Council. Former presidential aide Alexander Voloshin and Sergey Issakov, who is named as an official from the presidential administration and Voloshin's closest confidant, are the main figures of the document. The Senate committee had an official investigation as concerning how Saddam Hussein granted politicians with oil in the framework of the oil-for-food program.

Alexander Voloshin told foreign journalists based in Moscow: "Neither the presidential administration nor me directly or through other people participated in any allocation of the Iraqi oil. We did not get any money from allocation of the oil quotas either."

He also stated that none of the authors of the report or US senators inquired him in the framework of the investigation. The US Senate's report also mentions some documents coming directly from Iraqi officials and proving connection of Russian politicians with the oil machinations. And Alexander Voloshin emphasized that the RF presidential administration and he personally was never in correspondence with Baghdad as concerning the issue.

Alexander Voloshin told The New York Times that he had never visited Iraq and had never had any deals with Iraqis directly or through middlemen. The former presidential aide said he was "more than anyone interested" in making impartial investigation of the scandal.

Sergey Issakov, the chairman of board of directors of the Russian Engineering Company said in an interview to NEWSru that "he never worked at the presidential administration and was not at all acquainted with Alexander Voloshin.

"I just came across my name in a story concerning the oil-for-food program, and now have some things to report. I actually took part in the oil-for-food program; my official position is the chairman of board of directors at the Russian Engineering Company; I never worked at the presidential administration or any companies related to the presidential administration. I am not acquainted with Alexander Voloshin, has never been his friend or confidant, and never claimed I was," Sergey Issakov said.

Leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia Vladimir Zhirinovsky was another Russian politician mentioned in the US Senate committee's report. The LDPR leader made an official statement to say "he concluded no contracts with Iraqis and got not a cent from Iraq."
Vladimir Zhirinovsky said: "Under the terms of sanctions, the UN appropriated oil which Iraq was allowed to sell to anyone it wanted. The US Senate committee highly likely wants to know if the sanctions regime was violated and if the UN control proved weak in that situation.

"The document mentions my name because I actually requested Iraq to appropriate more oil for Russia. I was lobbying Russia's interests. This is my line to ask all oil producing countries to appropriate oil for Russian companies."

To protest against the claims of the US Senate committee at any of the foreign courts, Vladimir Zhirinovsky says thousands of dollars are necessary; "there is no authority in Russia to appeal to as concerning the claims.

"Besides, there is not a word in the report saying that I got any money from Iraq," Zhirinovsky added.

Zhirinovsky's press-service had no information as concerning probable appearance of the Russian politician at the US Senate with the purpose of proving his innocence. British MP George Galloway and French Senator Charles Pasqua were also blamed for machinations with Iraqi oil allocations. The other day, the British parliamentarian appeared at the US Senate to state he had no connection with the machinations. George Galloway is sure that the US is purposefully creating a smoke screen to conceal its crimes in Iraq. Mr.Pasqua denied the claims in a letter to the Senate. Senators in their turn promised that George Galloway would have serious problems in case he had lied to the Senate.

On the photo: Alexander Voloshin

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Author`s name Marina Lebedeva