Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 176

Some Russian politicians, however, continue to draw different conclusions from the current scandal enveloping their country. Samara Governor Konstantin Titov told a meeting of Swedish politicians, businessmen and journalists yesterday that the Bank of New York scandal was aimed against the attempts of Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin to transform Russia into a market economy and to “compromise the leadership and business in Russia” (Russian agencies, September 23).

Other Russian observers also reacted negatively to this week’s U.S. congressional hearings. One newspaper said that the hearings have already led to a call in the U.S. for changing federal laws in order to make Russians “depositors of a second sort, robbed of the right to banking secrecy.” The newspaper said that Congressman Jim Leach, who heads the House of Representatives’ banking committee, urged that banking secrecy apply only to U.S. citizens. The paper, noting Leach’s call for money stolen from Russia to be returned to “the Russian people,” wrote: “Considering the idea aired at the hearings that there are no honest people among officials and businessmen in Russia, the congressman can consider absolutely all the money in Russian accounts stolen” (Kommersant, September 23).

The Russian media also featured an interview with Grigory Loutchansky, the head of the Nordex firm, who was alleged during yesterday’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee to be an organized crime boss. Loutchansky said that the goal of the Bank of New York scandal was to punish competitors. “The means of destruction–the ruined reputation, either of both a specific person or company and a whole country.” Loutchansky said the “main goal of Russiagate is the destruction of Russian business. The blocking of all approaches to the world market” (Komsomolskaya pravda, September 23).