Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 140

Russian prosecutors yesterday seized documents from a Moscow firm in connection with an ongoing investigation into alleged moneylaundering and illegal business by officials in the state airline Aeroflot. While law enforcement officials would only say that the firm had maintained “contract relations” with Aeroflot, the object of the search was reportedly Transnational Legal Alliance, a Moscow-based law firm which was under the control of Nikolai Glushkov, a top Aeroflot manager and ally of the tycoon Boris Berezovsky (Kommersant, July 21). The firm is said to have been founded by Andava, the Swiss company Berezovsky allegedly set up and used as a conduit for US$250 million from Aeroflot’s revenues from overseas sales. Investigators are quoted as saying that millions of dollars in fees paid by Aeroflot to the law firm suggest that the firm was a vehicle for transferring Aeroflot fees abroad (Segodnya, July 21).

At the beginning of the month, Swiss prosecutors seized documents both from the Lausanne offices of Andava and from another company, Forus Service, believed to have been founded by Berezovsky, in connection with their own investigation into suspected moneylaundering from Aeroflot. But the fact that Russian prosecutors are continuing the Aeroflot probe even after the man who began the investigation–Prosecutor General Yuri Skuratov–was suspended earlier this year, cannot be comforting to those who are the probe’s targets.

According to a report today, President Boris Yeltsin is considering replacing Yuri Chaika, the current acting prosecutor general, with Vladimir Ustinov, the prosecutor general of the North Caucasus region. Yeltsin is reportedly set to meet Ustinov on July 23. Ustinov is described as being loyal to “the Family,” the group of Kremlin insiders which includes Berezovsky, and is considered more likely to close down the probes into both Aeroflot and alleged corruption in the Kremlin housing department, headed by long-time Yeltsin associate Pavel Borodin (Kommersant, July 21).