Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 66

Top officials in the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF)–including its leader Gennady Zyuganov, and State Duma security committee chairman Viktor Ilyukhin–have claimed that Skuratov’s infamous letter to Yeltsin last week included the names of twenty VIPs who had stashed US$40 billion in Swiss bank accounts. Countering this, Deputy Kremlin administration chief Oleg Sysuev, acting Prosecutor General Chaika and Skuratov himself have each said the letter named no names (Russian agencies, April 5). One newspaper today published what appeared to be a facsimile of the letter, in which Skuratov wrote that he had received from the Swiss prosecutor’s office documents concerning money laundering by Russian individuals and companies; he specifically mentioned “violations” involving deals with the Swiss firms Noga, Mabetex and Andava (Vremya MN, April 6). These cases involve, at minimum, Deputy Prime Minister Gennady Kulik, Kremlin “property manager” Pavel Borodin and tycoon Boris Berezovsky, respectively (see the Monitor, April 5).

One commentator today speculated that Skuratov was bluffing: That he has, in fact, no list at all (Izvestia, April 6). One newspaper suggested that he did, but noted, first, that any top-level official wanting to become a real political player does not “show all of his cards immediately,” given that, first, it could put his life in danger, and, second, could be used to cut a deal with his enemies (Kommersant, April 6). Meanwhile, a weekly tabloid claimed that Carla Del Ponte, Switzerland’s top prosecutor, had given Skuratov the names of 300 persons with Swiss bank accounts: “It is practically the whole political elite of Russia. And the criminal elite. Criminal-political…” When it comes to high-level theft and corruption, Yeltsin, according to the tabloid, knows exactly “who, how and how much,” and this is why he so quickly suspended Skuratov and made certain he was prosecuted (Versya, April 6-12).