Pavel Borodin, the Russia-Belarus union state secretary and former Kremlin property manager, has been asked to appear in Switzerland on May 17 for questioning concerning charges of money laundering in connection with the so-called Mabetex case. Borodin, who was arrested on January 17 of this year at New York’s JFK International Airport on a Swiss warrant and spent nearly three months in a Brooklyn jail awaiting possible extradition to Switzerland, finally agreed to go to Switzerland voluntarily in early April. The Swiss authorities, after keeping Borodin in custody for a week in Geneva, agreed to free him on a bail of 5 million Swiss francs (US$3 million). He was not prevented from returning to Russia and promptly did so. Once there, he said he would go to Geneva again for questioning if asked to do so by the Swiss authorities and if his health permitted him. Geneva Prosecutor Bernard Bertossa expressed doubts that Borodin’s promise to return if summoned. And Borodin did indeed enter the hospital soon after his arrival in Moscow. Yesterday, however, Yevgeny Krovopuskov, head of the Russia-Belarus union’s secretariat, quoted Borodin as saying that he would appear for questioning. He also quoted Borodin as saying that he had nothing to fear because he had not committed crimes in Russia, Belarus or Switzerland. Likewise, one of Borodin’s lawyers in Geneva was quoted today as saying that his client would fly to Geneva for questioning on May 17. According to Swiss law, Borodin could be excused from appearing for questioning only if a doctor declared him unfit to do so for medical reasons. Otherwise, if Borodin fails to show up he will forfeit the US$3 million posted for his bail. A spokesman for Borodin said last month that the Russia-Belarus union’s executive committee had provided the bail money (NTV.ru, May 3-4; Lenta.ru, April 10, 12; Moscow Times, April 13, 16; RTR, Lenta.ru, April 27).
In an interview published this week in a Swiss magazine, Borodin said again that he would return to Switzerland if summoned by prosecutors there. He also said he believed that he had been the victim of “Russian political intrigues,” but did not specify who he thought might have set him up for arrest in the United States (L’illustre, May 2). Following his detention in New York in January, Russian media speculated that someone in Russian officialdom had tipped off the U.S. authorities about Borodin’s travel plans. Borodin went to the United States ostensibly to attend the inauguration of President George W. Bush, having reportedly consulted with the Russian Foreign Ministry before doing so.
Shortly before the Swiss authorities released Borodin on bail, the Swiss newspaper Le Temps, citing a source close to the Federal Security Service, reported that Borodin had delivered a message to the Kremlin through one of his Russian lawyers, Genrikh Padva, which contained “threats to reveal certain little secrets concerning Putin personally if the Russian government did not take steps to get him out of the Swiss prison.” Padva denied paper’s claim. Le Temps also reported that Tat’yana Dyachenko, Boris Yeltsin’s daughter, had complained that too little was being done politically and diplomatically to free Borodin (Le Temps, April 11). Borodin was a member of Yeltsin’s inner circle during the latter’s tenure as president and Putin at one time worked in the Kremlin property department, advising Borodin on questions involving Russian state property abroad.
RUSSIAN TROOPS WREAK HAVOC IN GROZNY MARKET.