Late this morning, Moscow time, Russian media reported that officials of the Russian Prosecutor General’s office had seized documents from the Kremlin’s “housekeeping affairs” department, headed by Pavel Borodin, a veteran member of President Boris Yeltsin’s inner circle. According to the reports, prosecutors began confiscating documents from the department on March 18 and continued to do so today. Officials from Borodin’s office were reportedly questioned, and Borodin himself reportedly summoned for questioning, but could not appear because he is undergoing treatment at Central Clinical Hospital. The seizure was said to be in connection with a criminal investigation by Prosecutor General Yuri Skuratov’s office into alleged bribery and abuse of office which took place in the course of deals between Borodin’s department and the Swedish engineering/construction firm Mabetex.
Meanwhile, an unnamed Kremlin official denied that Kremlin officials were being interrogated, while Borodin confirmed in a telephone interview with NTV television that documents had been seized but denied any wrongdoing. He said that his department had been audited many times both by the Audit Chamber, an independent federal watchdog set up by the parliament, and by the auditing department of the finance ministry, and nothing untoward had been discovered (March 23). Interestingly, the Audit Chamber’s large office building in Moscow was one of those refurbished by the Swiss firm Mabetex. Also today, Mabetex president Bedzhet Pacolli headed a press conference in Moscow, during which he denied all accusations against his company and denied any wrongdoing (NTV, Russian agencies, March 23).
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