Publication: Monitor Volume: 7 Issue: 48

A court in Brooklyn, New York will today consider an appeal by lawyers for Pavel Borodin, the Russian-Belarus Union state secretary and former Kremlin property manager, that their client be released on bail. Lawyers for Borodin, who was arrested and jailed in Brooklyn on January 17 at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport on an international warrant issued by Swiss prosecutors (see the Monitor, January 18-19, 22, February 6), say their client would agree not only to pay bail–reportedly in the range of US$200,000-$300,000–but to wear an electronic bracelet while awaiting a U.S. court decision on the Swiss extradition request. One of Borodin’s lawyers, Eleonora Sergeeva, said that in making the bail appeal, she and her colleagues had provided the U.S. authorities a large amount of material, including documents from the Russia-Belarus Union’s Supreme State Council and Council of Ministers confirming Borodin’s function and role in the unified state (which is generally not recognized as a state internationally). Sergeeva noted that the bail request was complicated by the fact that the relevant U.S.-Swiss treaty covering extradition allows suspects to be released on bail only under “exceptional circumstances,” generally of a medical nature (NTV, March 9). If Borodin were released on bail, he would presumably stay at the Russian consulate in New York while awaiting a decision concerning extradition.

The Swiss arrest order–which was issued in January 2000 and asks that Borodin be sent Switzerland to face interrogation over alleged money laundering and participation in a criminal enterprise–stems from the Swiss probe into allegations that Borodin and others received multimillion-dollar kickbacks from two Swiss firms, Mabetex and Mercata Trading, in exchange for lucrative contracts to refurbish the Grand Kremlin Palace and other Russian government buildings. On March 7, the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office sent its Swiss counterpart a response to the arrest order. According to a spokesman, Leonid Troshin, the Prosecutor General’s Office told the Swiss prosecutors that it had looked into “questions connected to the reconstruction” of various Russian government objects–including the Grand Kremlin Palace and Yeltsin’s presidential jet, which were refurbished by Mercata–and found that no laws had been broken. Borodin’s lawyers sent this finding to the U.S. authorities that same day. According to one of Borodin’s lawyers, Genrikh Padva, the Russian prosecutors’ findings proved that the Swiss had “no basis whatsoever for accusing Borodin of having legalized funds made in an illegal manner or of having created a criminal group for laundering [such funds]” (NTV, March 7). The Russian Prosecutor General’s Office’s findings concerning Borodin and Mercata were not surprising, given that last December it dropped its investigation into alleged bribes paid by Mabetex–which it was probing separately–saying there was no proof of criminal wrong-doing (see the Monitor, December 15, 2000). By contrast, the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office earlier this month issued an international arrest warrant for Borodin’s main accuser, Felipe Turover. The office accused Turover, a Russian emigre who had worked in Moscow for Switzerland’s Banco del Gottardo, of, among other things, having stolen a US$16,000 watch and skipped on his rent while working in the Russian capital (see the Monitor, March 5).