Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 146

A trial has begun in Moscow that has every chance of becoming not only unprecedented, but sensational as well. Beslan Gantemirov, former mayor of the Chechen capital, Grozny, is charged with swindling 57 billion rubles. During the war years, Gantemirov also held the post of deputy premier in Chechnya’s pro-Moscow puppet government. Also charged are Moscow businessman Andrei Rubanov, through whose firm, investigators allege, Gantemirov sent the money abroad, and Israeli businessman Arkady Golod, who is accused of receiving the money and transferring it to banks in Austria, Switzerland and the US. (Kommersant-daily, July 28)

Gantemirov’s trial will be closed. The official explanation is that this is for security reasons: Chechen fighters could try to settle accounts with Gantemirov, whom many Chechens regard as a traitor because of his membership of the pro-Moscow government. But Gantemirov’s lawyer, Konstantin Mudrik, has another explanation. He thinks that the trial is being kept under wraps because the authorities fear what might happen if Gantemirov’s testimony is made public. Gantemirov alleges that he was introduced to Golod by former Russian Interior Minister Anatoly Kulikov. The Israeli businessman denies having had any contact with the ex-minister, however, and Kulikov has not been questioned. (Kommersant-daily, July 28)