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Panama Papers: How Moscow and Beijing reported Panama

front page of Russia's Novaya Gazeta news website Image copyright Novaya Gazeta
Image caption Novaya Gazeta is one of the few Russian media outlets to carry the news

Media from Moscow to Beijing are reporting the Panama Papers leak, with some outlets omitting names of local politicians and prominent figures who figure in them.

Eleven million documents held by the Panama-based company Mossack Fonseca were leaked to German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung, then shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

In Russia, the three main pro-Kremlin TV channels have not reported the story so far.

This is quite typical behaviour for Russia's mainstream broadcasters, which often steer clear of controversial topics involving Russian leaders.

The leak reveals a suspected money-laundering ring run by a Russian bank and involving close associates of President Vladimir Putin.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov rejected the allegations: "Even though Vladimir Putin is not explicitly mentioned anywhere, it is obvious for us that our president has been and will be the main target."

The story is covered by privately owned business channel RBK and independent digital news channel Dozhd TV - sources that seldom shy away from major international stories that cast Russia in an unfavourable light.


Panama Papers - tax havens of the rich and powerful exposed

  • Eleven million documents held by the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca have been passed to German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung, which then shared them with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. BBC Panorama is among 107 media organisations - including UK newspaper the Guardian - in 76 countries which have been analysing the documents. The BBC doesn't know the identity of the source
  • They show how the company has helped clients launder money, dodge sanctions and evade tax
  • Mossack Fonseca says it has operated beyond reproach for 40 years and never been accused or charged with criminal wrong-doing
  • Tricks of the trade: How assets are hidden and taxes evaded
  • Panama Papers: Full coverage; follow reaction on Twitter using #PanamaPapers; in the BBC News app, follow the tag "Panama Papers"
  • Watch Panorama on the BBC iPlayer (UK viewers only)

The ICIJ report was released late on Sunday night in Moscow, missing print deadlines for newspapers.

But the ICIJ's Russian partner, the opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta, featured a seven-page hard copy report and a large online version on its website. Since then, most of the popular online news sources have included reports on the story.

There has been plenty of chatter on social media. The hashtag #panamapapers has been in and out of the Top 10 Twitter trends for Russia since Sunday evening.

It seems the story has underwhelmed many Russian bloggers, who were not surprised to learn about potential large-scale corruption. There have been plenty of sarcastic jokes about the alleged sums involved.

Image copyright Die Welt
Image caption Germany's Die Welt focuses on allegations that money was channelled through an offshore company owned by cellist Sergei Roldugin, a longstanding friend of Mr Putin's

Chinese silence

In Germany, Munich's Sueddeutsche Zeitung - which originally received the documents - has the online headline "Putin's rich friends - the trail of the secret money".

The heavyweight Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung says "Panama's state prosecutors investigate offshore firms", while Berlin's Die Welt reports on "The billion-dollar trails of a global affair".

The tabloid Bild says "Data leak reveals shady transactions worth billions".

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The law firm is reported to have described the leak as a "crime"

China's press is quiet on allegations that the Panama Papers involve Chinese nationals, partly because it is a national holiday, the Qingming Festival.

News outlets have reported the story, omitting any mention of China being involved. However, it appears that dialogue on the papers is now being censored, as features on the Sina and NetEase web portals have been removed.

There are indications that Weibo social media users want to talk about it, with thousands of posters attempting to discuss the story using the hashtag #PanamaPapers.

Weibo shows that more than 2,000 users have used this hashtag, but posts using it appear currently unavailable to view.

A search of "Panama" on verified media accounts brings up no results, suggesting that the microblog's moderators wish to limit people from searching for this term.

Independent Hong Kong papers, meanwhile, highlight the involvement of the families of a senior Chinese official and a prominent figure.

Arabic news websites and online version of dailies have picked up the story, although regional TV channels have yet to report on it.

Egyptian dailies are leading with revelations about the family of former President Hosni Mubarak.

On Twitter, the hashtags #PanamaDocuments in Arabic and #PanamaLeaks in English have been used in tens of thousands of tweets, trending in Egypt within 12 hours.

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.

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