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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Zhirinovsky Claims Pure Motives in Iraqi Business

APUltranationalist lawmaker Vladimir Zhirinovsky
Ultranationalist lawmaker Vladimir Zhirinovsky denied wrongdoing under the UN oil-for-food program, saying Monday that he never received money from Iraq or from companies that bought oil from Saddam Hussein's government.

Zhirinovsky was responding to a U.S. Senate report that he was among Russian officials and politicians who received millions of dollars from Hussein's government in hopes of ending UN sanctions against Iraq.

"I did not sign a single contract, I did not receive a single cent from Iraq -- not a kopek," Zhirinovsky told Ekho Moskvy radio. He said he "never saw any Iraqi oil, not a drop."

Zhirinovsky said that he used his close ties with Hussein's government to steer Iraqi oil to Russian companies, but claimed he was motivated by patriotism and received no compensation for helping with introductions to Iraqi officials. "I didn't get [money] from either side."

Zhirinovsky, who estimated he visited Iraq some 15 times a year before his last trip in 2002. He said he had helped Russian companies because he was "the most acceptable person for Iraq."

A report released Monday by the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs investigations subcommittee said that Zhirinovsky received Iraqi oil allocations worth $8.7 million under the oil-for-food program.

The program was designed to let Hussein's government sell oil and use the proceeds to buy food, medicine and other humanitarian items in order to ease the effects on the Iraq people of UN sanctions imposed after his invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

Hussein is widely accused of using oil vouchers -- which allowed the bearer to buy Iraqi oil at cut-rate prices -- to curry favor with countries holding veto power in the UN Security Council.

The Senate subcommittee said that about 30 percent of the oil sold in the program was allocated to Russia.

Zhirinovsky denied that he provided political or diplomatic support for Iraq in exchange for oil deals, calling the idea "absurd" and saying he had always opposed the UN sanctions.

The U.S. report said that the Presidential Council -- led by Alexander Voloshin, former chief of staff to President Vladimir Putin -- received oil allocations worth more than $16 million, according to Iraq's oil ministry. Voloshin could not be reached for comment.

Deputy Foreign Minister Yury Fedotov said Monday that Russian authorities have seen no evidence of violations by Russian companies or individuals in connection with the oil-for-food program. Zhirinovsky pointed out that it allowed Iraq to decide to whom to sell oil.

The Senate report said Zhirinovsky on six occasions sold oil allotments to the Texas oil company Bayoil, whose owner, David Chalmers, has been indicted on charges related to the UN program.

While Zhirinovsky said he had no commercial involvement in deals related to oil-for-food, he did not expressly deny a connection to Bayoil.