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Putin Asks Billionaires To Pay Taxes, Urges Business-Friendly Moves

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a business conference in Moscow on March 20
Russian President Vladimir Putin has called on the country's billionaires to pay their taxes.

Speaking to the heads of Russia's largest companies at a conference in Moscow on March 20, Putin said Russian companies "should be registered on the territory of our nation, in our country, and have a transparent ownership structure."

He also said it was imperative to improve the business climate and repeated a pledge to limit "de-offshorization" to stem capital flight.

Putin's comments come amid fears of a new wave of Western economic sanctions imposed over Putin's move to annex Crimea.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said March 20 that the EU could introduce what she called "Phase-3 measures" if there is a "worsening" of the situation in Ukraine.

The European Union is Russia's top trading partner, accounting for almost half of its exports and imports.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters