Publication: Monitor Volume: 6 Issue: 113

Vladimir Kozhin, who is in charge of the Kremlin’s property department, said yesterday that a recent audit of the department found that no significant abuses had occurred during the tenure of his predecessor, Pavel Borodin (Russian agencies, June 8). Earlier this year, President Vladimir Putin appointed Kozhin, a long-time associate from St. Petersburg, to replace Borodin, who was subsequently named state secretary of the Russia-Belarus union. Earlier this year, the Swiss authorities issued a warrant for Borodin’s arrest in connection with the Mabetex case, allegedly involving the laundering into Swiss banks of kickbacks paid by a Swiss construction-engineering firm to top Kremlin officials in return for lucrative contracts to refurbish Russian government buildings, including former President Boris Yeltsin’s Kremlin offices. Borodin has denied all the charges, and suggested that they are the work of unnamed forces interested in derailing Russia’s planned union with neighboring Belarus.

The Kremlin’s property department is a multibillion-dollar empire which includes apartments, dachas, hospitals, clinics, hotels, rest homes, restaurants and even factories throughout Russia, as well as state installations and businesses throughout Russia and abroad. Even leaving the Mabetex case aside, some observers would take issue with Kozhin’s bill of clean health for his predecessor. For example, a researcher with the Russian Academy of Sciences claimed in an article published this week that the Kremlin property department’s medical center once obtained 150 U.S.-made Chevrolets and 100 Pontiacs, and that thirty-five of the former and twenty-three of the latter subsequently “disappeared” (Moskovsky novosti, June 6). Meanwhile, the property department apparently has plans to expand. The AK&M news agency reported yesterday that the department will soon open up a chain of “Kremlevskie” stores, which will sell products manufactured by some of the enterprises it owns. The department also plans to create a company called “Kreml”–Kremlin–which will, among other things, refurbish the State Kremlin Palace to make it “the leading concert site in the country” (Russian agencies, June 8). There was no word so far on who might get the refurbishment contract.

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