Pavel Borodin, head of the Kremlin’s “housekeeping affairs” department, which has been at the center of a corruption scandal, was busy yesterday speaking to the media. His interviews followed reports that his offices were being searched by officials from the Prosecutor General’s Office. According to Borodin, the check of his office was a routine one which had been going on for more than a week. Borodin said that his office had been the object of many other similar checks by Russian government agencies, such as the watchdog Audit Chamber and the Finance Ministry, and that no wrongdoing had been uncovered. Borodin did confirm, however, that prosecutors had removed from his office documents related to construction projects involving the Swiss firm Mabetex, and called the scandal surrounding his office and Mabetex “pure politics” (NTV, March 23). Last week Prosecutor General Yuri Skuratov charged that a sex tape allegedly featuring him was part of a “provocation” directed at disrupting a criminal investigation into Mabetex.
Several newspapers today quoted Borodin as saying that one of the construction projects with Mabetex, involving the Kremlin’s first building, was not under his office’s jurisdiction, but under that of a state commission headed by Vladimir Resin, a first deputy vice premier of the Moscow city government. It would appear that Borodin was trying fob the scandal off on Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov. A spokesman for Resin’s office, however, denied that Resin had anything to do with the Kremlin construction project or sat on a state commission overseeing it (Izvestia, Segodnya, Komsomolskaya pravda, March 24).
The controversy coincided with the arrival in Moscow of Swiss federal prosecutor Carla Del Ponte and a press conference by Mabetex president Behgjet Pacolli. Pacolli said his firm had never given money to Russian officials and had nothing to do with the video allegedly starring Skuratov (Russian agencies, March 23). Del Ponte and Skuratov, meanwhile, met yesterday at a government guest house outside Moscow. Skuratov was quoted today as saying that the meeting was “very productive and useful” for both sides both in general terms and “concerning specific criminal cases” (Russian agencies, March 24). While Del Ponte came to Russia only to meet with Skuratov and officials from his office, media reported today that she will also meet with Interior Minister Sergei Stepashin during her visit (Russian agencies, March 24).
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