Kremlin denies paying PR firm to embellish Russia’s international image

Vladimir Putin file photo

(Interfax – MOSCOW, September 14, 2013) The Russian president’s office has denied allegations that it has paid public relations firm Ketchum $23 million from the state treasury for embellishing Russia’s image abroad.

“Ketchum doesn’t get any money from the presidential administration. We continue to cooperate with them but there is no direct state spending on this cooperation,” President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told Interfax on Saturday.

Ketchum operates as an agent for a commercial bank “which, in turn, pursues the objective of raising investment attractiveness,” Peskov said. “As regards our interests, there is complete coincidence there. It is true that under this non-state contract we sometimes make use of the services of the Ketchum agency in our work.”

Peskov declined to comment on allegations that Ketchum has received $17 million from Gazprom. He argued that Gazprom is an independent entity and can make its own decisions. “There was tendering there. It’s their own business,” he said.

Russia’s news website had claimed, citing foreign media, that Ketchum had been paid $23 million by the Russian state and $17 million by Gazprom for boosting Russia’s image in the West.