Investigative journalist Oleg Lurye has detailed corruption which Aleksandr Voloshin allegedly engaged in prior to his elevation as Kremlin chief of staff. According to an article written by Lurye in the latest issue of Novaya Gazeta, from 1995-1997 Voloshin headed a company called the Federal Fund Corporation (FFK), which was set up under the Russian Federal Property Fund (RFFI), one of the Russian government’s privatization agencies, and which acted as the RFFI’s authorized agent in carrying out special privatization auctions. Among FFK’s founders was AKM, a firm owned by Voloshin, and the All-Russian Automobile Alliance (AVVA), a company set up by Boris Berezovsky, reportedly with Voloshin’s help, which many observers believe amounted to a pyramid scheme (see the Monitor, July 23, 1999). Lurye, citing investigations carried out by the Audit Chamber and other agencies, alleges that FFK and its agents participated in sixty-one privatization auctions, from which Voloshin and his team illegally received US$55 million in compensation. The article also alleges that Voloshin and his team deliberately understated the price of shares in state enterprises in at least ten such auctions. This, according to the Audit Chamber, cost the state US$23 million. Lurye’s article also alleges that Voloshin deposited millions of dollars from such operations into an account in the Bahamas branch of Moscow’s Guta Bank. The account, which belonged to a London-based company called Glynford Financial Services Limited, was reportedly used to launder millions of dollars in illegally earned money.
The allegations against Voloshin, which were recently posted on a new website, Corruption.ru, are not the first corruption charges Lurye has leveled against the Kremlin chief of staff. In his latest article, the journalist claims that following the publication of an article detailing a criminal probe into allegations that another Voloshin-connected company had robbed depositors of hundreds of thousands of dollars, documents relating to the article were seized by the Moscow prosecutor’s office, which was considering possible criminal charges for illegally divulging information from a criminal investigation. Last December, Lurye was severely beaten and his face slashed with a razor just a day after appearing on an NTV television talk show, during which he attacked the Prosecutor General’s Office for closing down the Mabetex case, involving charges that former Kremlin property manager Pavel Borodin received kickbacks, and ignoring corruption allegations against Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov, while going after Media-Most founder Vladimir Gusinsky (see the Monitor, February 6, December 18, 2000).
Interestingly, Ustinov himself has admitted the dimensions of Russia’s corruption problem. Speaking on March 23 to a conference of law enforcement, defense and judicial officials, the prosecutor general said, first, that corruption was costing Russia US$15 billion a year and, second, that criminal groups were laundering US$12 billion per year in Cyprus alone. Ustinov is pushing for tightened controls over hard currency transactions and offshore and foreign banking activities by Russian companies and individuals (Moscow Times, March 26).
TERRORIST BOMBINGS KILL TWENTY-THREE IN SOUTHERN RUSSIA.