Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 165

The Washington Post was not alone this week in revealing more about the expanding Russian kickback/moneylaundering scandals. Yesterday a British newspaper cited a new report in Corriere della Sera, alleging that an Italian furniture company closely tied to Mabetex received “large sums of Russian cash and channeled them into bank accounts in London, Ireland or Canada that could be accessed safely by members of the Yeltsin ‘family’.” The Italian paper was quoted as saying that Russian couriers had delivered the cash from Switzerland to the Italian firm, and that one of the couriers subsequently died, reportedly in a car accident. The head of the Italian furniture company denied the charges (The Independent, September 8).

In an interview published this week, Yuri Skuratov, the Russian prosecutor general who launched the Mabetex invesigation and whom Yeltsin dismissed earlier this year, charged that Mabetex chief Pacolli spent 15 million Swiss francs bribing high-ranking Russian state officials and called for an investigation into the credit cards used by Yeltsin and members of his family (NTV, September 7). Meanwhile, a Russian daily, citing unnamed “reliable sources,” reported today that the Kremlin is “actively discussing” the possibility of arresting Skuratov and seizing “explosive” documents in his possession implicating top officials in corruption (Moskovsky komsomolets, September 9). Moskovsky komsomolets, it should be noted, has been sympathetic to Skuratov in much of its reporting.

Interestingly, another Russian paper, controlled by Kremlin insider Boris Berezovsky, earlier this week quoted Skuratov as saying that the Prosecutor General’s Office has “operational data” pointing to the involvement of Tatyana Dyachenko, Yeltsin’s daughter and adviser, in embezzling “a tranche” of credits from the International Monetary Fund. “After Skuratov was removed, these materials, contrary to accepted procedure, were sent for verification to the presidential administration,” the paper wrote. “It is hard to say now whether the verification took place at all, what its results were, and where the materials are now” (Nezavisimaya gazeta, September 7).

The fact that a Berezovsky-controlled paper is giving front-page play to such explosive–and, as yet, unproven–allegations, lends some credence to the theory that Berezovsky and his allies in the Kremlin inner circle may be trying to convince the head of state that if he yields power, he and/or members of his family will be prosecuted and jailed.