The Mabetex scandal is close to having sparked a full-blown political crisis. One Russian newspaper reported today that two top officials in the Kremlin administration–Oleg Sysuev, its first deputy head, and Ruslan Orekhov, who runs its powerful legal department–have expressed a desire to resign (Kommersant daily, March 23).
Significantly, the newspaper “Izvestia,” which has been among the most pro-Kremlin of the Russian media, today devoted its main front page articles to the arrival of Swiss federal prosecutor Carla Del Ponte. One of them, a commentary on the Mabetex scandal, read: “Many things have been said about Yeltsin’s presidency during his nearly two terms in office. But until now he did not give any reason to talk about him as a sponsor of the corrupt. And, what is more, he was never suspected of personally acting in a mercenary way. His time is running out. Knowing Yeltsin, one can be certain: He is not at all indifferent to how he will be viewed by history–as the gravedigger of all-powerful communism, a great reformer or a weak-willed observer of everything going on around him? The silence of the president concerning accusations of corruption in his inner circle cannot continue.”
RUSSIAN AND ISRAELI LEADERS CLAIM SOME COMMON GROUND.