While many Russian media and politicians in recent weeks criticized the Western press for the corruption scandals, accusing it of pushing unproven charges, several Russian politicians now seem to accept them as true. Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov said that he did not think the reports of Russian money laundering were “untrue,” and accused senior Russian government officials in engaging in a “cover up.” Fellow Communist Gennady Seleznev, speaker of the State Duma, said that the U.S. Congress hearings into money laundering would be “helpful in fighting those who compromise our country as a whole.” Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, on an official visit to Vienna, said yesterday that he believed the money laundering and corruption allegations, saying: “We know who has stolen how much and has transferred it abroad,” and adding that someone in the upper echelons of authority” was blocking investigations into alleged money laundering. Luzhkov again repeated his charge that Yeltsin, because of his health, is unable to carry out his duties effectively and that it is still possible that the president may step down before his term ends next June (Russian agencies, September 21).
Luzhkov himself, however, has not evaded corruption charges in the Western press. The German newspaper Bild recently reported that the Moscow mayor had purchased two ponies in Germany for his children, along with a “fine stallion,” for 150,000 Deutschemarks. The money was allegedly transferred directly from the Bank of Moscow, which is the authorized bank for the Moscow city government, to the horse farm. The paper quoted from the Russian magazine Kult Lichnostei (Cult of Personality), which estimated Luzhkov’s worth at US$300 million to US$400 million (Bild, September 16).
MOSCOW ASSAILS AGREEMENT WITH KOSOVO LIBERATION ARMY.