Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 36

"Russia’s Procurator General has instituted criminal proceedings against the governor of Vologda Oblast, in northwest Russia. (11) The governor, Nikolai Podgornov, is being charged with abuse of office. The news marks the culmination of the long-running ÒGrain Affair.Ó The scandal erupted in the autumn of 1995, when the local and national press alleged that Podgornov had illegally deposited 21.7 billion rubles allocated from the federal budget to the oblast for grain purchases into an interest-bearing account in a commercial bank. The bank happened to be co-owned by his brother. The governor was accused of using the interest, which amounted to some 30 billion rubles, to build himself a lakeside dacha complete with swimming pool and sauna. The governor denied the allegations and reprisals were taken against local journalists. (12) In late November 1995, President Yeltsin authorized a special investigation into the affair. But the presidential investigators exonerated the governor, declaring that while his use of federal funds was not strictly legal, his decision to invest the money was a wise one that had augmented the original sum and he was only to be congratulated on his skillful and imaginative exploitation of the market. Finally, at the beginning of this year, a parliamentary deputy from Vologda referred the matter to the Procurator General, who instituted his own investigation. (13) The upshot of that investigation is that Podgornov, who heads the Vologda chapter of "Russia is Our Home", is to face criminal charges. Izvestiya has reported that similar use of federal funding has been made in many other Russian regions.

Two Maritime Border Disputes Simmer in the Baltics.