LONDON (REUTERS) - A senior Russian banker has denied that he identified an official at Moscow State University as Russian President Vladimir Putin's younger daughter.
Mr Andrey Akimov, deputy chairman of Gazprombank, challenged a Reuters report published on Tuesday (Nov 10) in which he was quoted as identifying Ms Katerina Tikhonova, a deputy vice-rector at the university, as Mr Putin's daughter.
In its report, Reuters confirmed the identity of Ms Tikhonova through two other sources in addition to Mr Akimov (http://reut.rs/1PmvR9C). The news agency stood by its account of Mr Akimov's remarks.
Ms Tikhonova heads a project at the university called Innopraktika, which assists young scientists. Gazprombank supports the project.
Reuters quoted Mr Akimov as saying about Ms Tikhonova: "I knew it was Putin's daughter. But of course we took the decision to support MSU's (Moscow State University's) projects irrespective of any family connections."
In a statement issued today in Moscow, Gazprombank said: "Akimov was surprised and bewildered when he read the report by Reuters news agency in which he is credited with the statement that the head of 'Innopraktika', Ms Tikhonova, is supposedly the daughter of the President of the Russian Federation. It is not so." Gazprombank added: "Akimov made no such statements."
However, a Reuters spokesman said: "Mr. Akimov spoke to Reuters on the record. Our account of what he said is wholly accurate, and Reuters stands by its story."
The Reuters story examined the role of Ms Tikhonova and the rise of a second generation of the elite around the Russian president. It reported that Ms Tikhonova has described herself as the spouse of Mr Kirill Shamalov, who has a stake in a gas and petrochemical company worth about US$2 billion (S$2.85 billion) and is the son of an old friend of Mr Putin.