Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin
Source: Press TV
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin says the sexual assault case against former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn could be a conspiracy to tarnish his image ahead of French elections.
Putin said the controversial charges against the former director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is hard to accept, adding that he is worried that Strauss-Kahn might be the victim of a plot to discredit him and stop him from running for president in France.
"It is hard for me to evaluate the real political underlying reasons and I do not even want to get into that subject, but I cannot believe that everything is as it seems and how it was initially presented," Putin told Interfax news agency, quoted by the Daily Telegraph.
"It does not sit right in my head."
A French politician earlier claimed that Strauss-Khan, just days before his arrest, had said he believed Putin was plotting to oust him from his position as head of the IMF.
"He said the Russians and notably Putin had allied themselves with France to try to have him fired from the IMF to stop him running for (French) president," Claude Bartolone, a socialist politician, said, according to the Telegraph.
Strauss-Kahn is awaiting a grand jury decision on whether to indict him on charges of sexual assault and attempted rape of a 32-year-old Manhattan hotel chambermaid.
Strauss-Kahn was arrested on May 14 over allegations that he had sexually attacked the cleaning lady at a luxury hotel near Times Square.
He was expected to declare his candidacy for the French presidency soon and considered as a strong contender to defeat President Nicolas Sarkozy in next year's elections.
Strauss-Kahn, 62, could face 5 to 25 years in prison if convicted.