Derision and resentment, feigned or real, are the reaction across Russia’s political spectrum to the building stories of moneylaundering and Kremlin kickbacks. On the right, Yegor Gaidar, director of Russia’s first privatization program, said that it is “completely obvious” that the Bank of New York moneylaundering investigation is part of the U.S. election campaign. In the center, former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin called “a fantasy” allegations that a Swiss construction company gave millions in kickbacks to President Boris Yeltsin and his daughters. On the left, the communist speaker of the State Duma, Gennady Seleznev, complained that the international press has “declared war” on Russia, to “discredit our country, to portray it as a country of thieves, of dishonest people.”

Government officials played the same tune, but louder. Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov spoke of “an attempt to manipulate unconfirmed facts to cast a cloud on our nation,” attributing the stories to “certain circles who do not want our country to take on its proper role in the world as a great power.” Similarly, Deputy Central Bank Chairman Sergei Aleksashenko said that the stories are an “absolutely coordinated campaign,” and urged Russian authorities to bring lawsuits against their accusers.

Only Vladimir Ryzhkov, who heads the centrist Russia Is Our Home faction in the Duma, urged authorities to speak out, investigate the charges and take a hard line against corruption.