15:35 Apr. 8, 2016
The so-called Panama Papers may prove far more damaging for Putin's counterpart in Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko
The Kremlin had warned that an attack was coming. "Comrades are working in accordance with tried and tested schemes," Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said last month, predicting an attempt to "rock the boat" ahead of elections in Russia.
But when the Panama papers appeared, revealing a USD 2 billion trail leading to Mr Putin's inner circle, the leadership exhaled. "We were expecting more impressive results," said Mr Peskov. "They have found little new."
Suggestions of shady dealings in the president's court neither surprise nor enrage most Russians. Only a few opposition activists came out to protest in central Moscow on April 5th; several were quickly detained.
Some 76% of the country believes its authorities are corrupt; 66% say Mr Putin bears significant or full responsibility for such high-level corruption. Yet he remains secure. "Corruption is seen as a fact of life, and the sense that there's nothing we can do about it is pervasive," says Maria Lipman, editor of the journal Counterpoint.
The latest revelations will do nothing to change those perceptions.
With the help of friendly media, the Kremlin has instead used the leak to reinforce a familiar story of Western meddling.
As Lev Gudkov, head of the Levada Centre, an independent pollster, points out, Russian reactions depend almost entirely on the nature of the news coverage.