Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 41

On February 25 a Russian daily published the contents of what it said were official documents from investigations into various high-level corruption cases. While the newspaper left out the names of those implicated, referring only to their cabinet positions, it was clear to whom it referred. Late last year, Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky forwarded the Primakov government an interrogatory which contained many of the same charges, but with names. In its article last week, the paper repeated charges that Gennady Kulik, while serving in the government in the early 1990s, put together a questionable barter deal with a Swiss company which cost the Russian government at least US$150 million. The newspaper, again citing official documents, charged that between 1995-1997, leaders of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) received US$2.5 million through a bank belonging to several advisers of “current senior deputy premiers.” The newspaper cited documents charging that the KPRF had “illegal revenues” thanks to its close connections in the Foreign Ministry and other government bodies (Nezavisimaya gazeta, February 25).

On February 26 another newspaper charged that Kulik, who runs the Primakov government’s agricultural policy, is protecting SBS-Agro, the commercial bank headed by “oligarch” Aleksandr Smolensky which has a network of rural affiliates. After last August’s financial crisis, the bank effectively defaulted on hundreds of thousands of depositors and has not repaid them. Yet the government is reportedly not only allowing the bank to continue operating, but bailing it out. Prior to last August’s financial collapse, the Central Bank, then headed by Sergei Dubinin, gave SBS-Agro a “stabilization credit” worth US$100 million in return for 76 percent of its shares as collateral. After Viktor Gerashchenko replaced Dubinin as head of the bank, he extended the deadline by which SBS-Agro had to repay the credit, and gave the bank another credit, worth US$80 million. According to the newspaper account, SBS-Agro has used one-third of this money to pay off its debts to International Moscow Bank, which Gerashchenko headed until his appointment to the Central Bank last year. Gennady Kulik’s son, Arkady, is a deputy chairman of SBS-Agro’s board of directors (Novae izvestia, February 26).