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‘Fake News’: Russian Official Reportedly Denies Involvement with Petro

The Russian government is pushing back against reports that it helped Venezuela launch its controversial “petro” cryptocurrency.

In public remarks Friday, the deputy director of the Information and Press Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Artyom Kozhin, called Time Magazine’s report linking Russian officials and businessmen to the petro “fake news,” Tass reports.

Adding that the report “is a blatant lie,” the official continued:

“In no way, have the Russian financial authorities ever participated in this project. During the course of the meeting held on February 21, 2018 in Moscow, Venezuela’s Minister of Economy and Finance Mr. [Simon] Zerpa indeed handed over a booklet on the cryptocurrency to the Russian Finance Minister exclusively for the purpose of informing Russian partners about this project.”

The Time report noted connections between certain Russian businessmen and Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro, further claiming that Russian president Vladimir Putin signed off on the petro, possibly to assist the evasion of U.S.-led sanctions.

The news came on the heels of U.S. president Donald Trump signing new sanctions into place, prohibiting Americans from buying or transacting with the petro, as previously reported.

Tass also reported that Maduro has claimed a number of trading pairs for the petro, including the Russian ruble, Turkish lira, euros and the yuan. Investors will be able to trade for these currencies beginning Friday, he said, though it is unclear where they can do so.

Kremlin image via Shutterstock

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