A leading western journalist who has long been considered one of Germany’s top independent experts on Russia received at least €600,000 (£522,000) in undisclosed offshore payments from companies linked to an oligarch close to Vladimir Putin, leaked files have revealed.
Hubert Seipel, an award-winning film-maker and author, was paid money in instalments, which documents suggest was to support his work on two books he wrote that chart Putin’s rise to power and offer portrayals described by many as sympathetic to the Russian president.
The case is one of the first linking an influential western journalist with significant payments in what could be seen by some as attempts by pro-Putin actors to secure positive coverage in the international media.
The revelations are likely to reverberate across Germany, where debate has been raging since last year’s invasion of Ukraine over the role parts of the political and business elite played in helping to keep Putin in power, not least due to its long-term dependence of Europe’s largest economy on Russian oil and gas.
One of the few journalists anywhere to have had direct and regular contact with the Russian leader, Seipel, who by his own admission has met Putin “nearly 100 times”, has acknowledged receiving money from accounts linked to the oligarch Alexei Mordashov, a steel and banking magnate placed under sanctions last year for his close ties to the Kremlin. [Continue reading…]