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20 May, 2019 14:44

‘Who is this woman?’ Kremlin denies any connection to scandal that brought down Austrian VC

‘Who is this woman?’ Kremlin denies any connection to scandal that brought down Austrian VC

The Kremlin has dismissed the notion that it played a role in a scandal that prompted the resignation of Austria’s vice-chancellor, noting that the videotaped discussion about a potential shady deal has no known links to Russia.

“I can’t assess the appearance of this video because it doesn’t apply to either the Russian Federation or the president or the government,” President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters on Monday. “We don’t know for sure who this woman is, whether she is Russian, whether she is a Russian national. Therefore, this story doesn’t and can’t have anything to do with us,” he said, referring to the alleged “Russian oligarch’s niece” featured in the video.

Last week two German publications, Spiegel and Suddeutsche Zeitung, released clips of a video showing a July 2017 meeting at an Ibiza villa, in which Heinz-Christian Strache, the head of the Freedom Party of Austria (FPO) and vice-chancellor of Austria, and Johann Gudenus, Strache's protégé and senior figure in the FPO, discuss a scheme involving a woman identified as “Alena Makarova” by Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

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In the video, the men chat with the mysterious woman – billed as the niece of Russian oligarch Igor Makarov – about how she could buy a majority share in Austria's major tabloid, Kronen Zeitung, and use it to prop up FPO's bid in the October 2017 national election.

However, the woman in the video has not been identified – and Igor Makarov is an only child and therefore doesn’t have any nieces.

Also on rt.com ‘I was only child’: Russian oligarch denies links to woman in epicenter of Austrian leak scandal

Strache, who resigned as vice-chancellor after the video emerged, has denied any wrongdoing, saying the leaked footage lacks key details and that its publication two years after the events was a “political assassination.”

The scandal was jumped on by the Western press, which used it as an example of alleged Kremlin influence in Europe, especially among right-wing political parties.

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