Publication: Monitor Volume: 6 Issue: 210

Pavel Borodin, the former Kremlin “property manager” who is now state secretary of the Russia-Belarus Union, has said that he plans to sue both the investigators from the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office and mass media who have accused him of corruption. Borodin has been named in the press in connection with the Mabetex case, involving allegations that the Swiss construction-engineering firm Mabetex and its affiliate Mercata Trading gave multimillion-dollar kickbacks to top Russian officials in exchange for lucrative contracts to refurbish Russian government buildings, including the Kremlin. “I don’t want to try to prove my innocence any more,” Borodin said in an interview published this week. “Therefore I’m waiting for when this case [the Mabetex case] will be closed for the lack of proof that a crime was committed, and it will absolutely be closed. And after that I will take to court both the media which accused me of corruption and the investigators and prosecutors who participated in this ordered-up affair.” Borodin claimed that the Mabetex case was “ordered up” to discredit former President Boris Yeltsin. He also said that articles in both the Russian and Western press which included corruption allegations connected to the Mabetex affair were also “ordered up” as part of the campaign against him and Yeltsin. “I know by whom, when and for how much this order was made, and who paid for it,” Borodin said. He refused to name names, but specifically referred to an article published last year in the weekly newspaper Versiya, which claimed to show Borodin’s and Yeltsin’s signatures on documents from Switzerland’s Banco del Gottardo proving that they held accounts in the bank. Ruslan Tamaev, the chief investigator from the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office in the Mabetex case, recently said that the copies of the documents bearing the signatures of Yeltsin and Borodin and published in Versiya were fakes (see the Monitor, November 2). In his interview, Borodin attacked both Felipe Turover, a Russian emigre who once worked for the Banco del Gottardo, and Yuri Skuratov, formerly Russia’s prosecutor general. Turover has made a number of accusations in the press–among them accusations against Borodin connected to the Mabetex case–while Skuratov was responsible for launching the case in the first place. Borodin said he had never met Turover, for whom, he claimed the Russian authorities had issued an arrest order and were searching via Interpol, the international crime fighting agency.

Borodin was not asked about, nor did he comment on, the letter from Swiss magistrate Daniel Devaud to Russian Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov that detailed charges of money laundering against fourteen people, including Borodin and Mercata Trading chief Viktor Stolpovskikh. The letter was written in July of this year but came to light in September after being leaked to the press (see the Monitor, September 14). Borodin claimed in the interview that U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno had once told him that she had received “ten volumes” outlining corruption charges against him and that she found nothing in them other than “ravings from Switzerland” (Argumenty i Fakty, No. 45, November 8).

At the same time, a newspaper reported today that the Prosecutor General’s Office had extended its investigation into the Mabetex affair, which was set to expire yesterday. It quoted Ruslan Tamaev, the chief investigator in the case, as saying that it had been extended because the Prosecutor General’s Office had received new material from the Swiss authorities and because Valentin Roschacher, Switzerland’s federal prosecutor, had promised to send a final instalment of documents to prosecutors in Moscow by the end of November. At the same time, Tamaev said that the material sent from Switzerland could not be used to prosecute anyone, because the Swiss authorities had sent Xerox copies and, according to Russian law, only the originals can be used as evidence in criminal cases (Segodnya, November 9).