Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has for the first time responded to allegations of corruption made by opposition activists, calling them "rubbish" and "nonsense."
Medvedev said on April 4 the allegations, which have led to a series of street demonstrations by opposition protesters, had been made "to try to pull people out into the streets and reach political ends."
Activist Aleksei Navalny has been the most vocal among opposition leaders with accusations of rampant corruption among officials close to President Vladimir Putin, targeting Medvedev in particular.
Navalny has helped lead large antigovernment demonstrations in Russia, the most recent on March 26, which led to a government crackdown and Navalny's arrest and sentencing to a 15-day term.
Navalny, who announced he will run for president in March 2018, has accused Medvedev of using charities and NGOs to collect donations from tycoons and state banks and using the funds to buy luxury homes, yachts, property abroad, and other assets.
Medvedev downplayed the accusation without offering specifics.
"Everything is being done under the 'compote' principle,” he said in televised comments.
"They take all kinds of rubbish and nonsense, gather -- if it concerns me -- the people I know, people I never heard of at all, some places where I've been to, and places I have never heard of, gather some papers, photographs, clothing, then create a product and show it.
"It is difficult for a viewer to make sense of it," he said. "And if good money is paid for this, the product turns out fairly well."
With reporting by AFP and TASS