Statement meant to shift suspicion from himself?
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has claimed that Dominique Strauss-Kahn may be the victim of a shadowy conspiracy to force him out of his job as head of the International Monetary Fund.
Mr Putin is the first world leader to display any serious doubts over the sex charges against the 62-year-old Frenchman.
But his remarks will certainly surprise the disgraced former IMF boss, who reportedly said before his arrest that he believed Mr Putin was actively plotting his downfall.
Doubtful: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, left, believes Dominique Strauss-Kahn, right, is the victim of a shadowy conspiracy
The prime minister jumped to Mr Strauss-Kahn’s defence in comments posted on the official Kremlin website.
He suggested that charges that the French presidential candidate sexually assaulted and tried to rape a 32-year-old chambermaid may have been trumped up by the U.S. authorities.
Mr Putin said: ‘It’s hard for me to evaluate the hidden political motives but I cannot believe that it looks the way it was initially introduced. It doesn’t sit right in my head.’
American prosecutors put the claims down to mischief making by the Russian premier.
Days before his arrest on May 14 for the alleged attack at a hotel in Times Square, New York, Mr Strauss-Kahn reportedly told friends that Mr Putin was seeking to oust him from the IMF.