The Mabetex scandal has also splashed mud on former President Boris Yeltsin and members of his family. Last year, the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera claimed that Mabetex chief Bahgjet Pacolli had told Swiss investigators that he had provided more than US$1 million to President Boris Yeltsin, his two daughters and former presidential security chief Aleksandr Korzhakov as “pocket money” for a 1994 trip to Budapest, Hungary. According to other reports, Pacolli made funds available to Yeltsin and his daughters via credit cards. Both Pacolli and the Kremlin categorically denied the stories. In 1997, Britain’s The Independent reported that Mabetex had brokered the purchase of two boats for Yeltsin in Britain, costing more than US$490,000 (see the Monitor, August 26, September 9, 1999). The weekly newspaper Versiya reported last year that Yeltsin, his daughter Tatyana Dyachenko and Borodin held accounts in Switzerland’s Banca del Gottardo, and published a facsimile of what it said was a 1995 agreement to open an account in the bank bearing Yeltsin’s signature. Officials with the bank called the alleged bank agreement a “blatant forgery” (see the Monitor, November 19, 1999).
Yeltsin, in a CBS interview which aired over the weekend, denied having any bank accounts or property abroad and put his net worth at US$300,000. Excerpts of the interview with Mike Wallace, host of “60 Minutes,” CBS’s weekly news magazine program, were shown last night on Russia’s NTV television (NTV, October 9). Yeltsin has been giving interviews timed to coincide with the publication of the third volume of his memoirs. Over the weekend, Ruslan Tamaev, the Prosecutor General’s Office official leading the probe into Mabetex, extended the life of the investigation by one month. On December 24 of last year, just a week before Yeltsin resigned as president, Tamaev had extended the Mabetex probe for six months so that investigators could conduct a detailed review of the presidential administration’s finances (see the Monitor, October 9, January 3).
EXIT CIS CUSTOMS UNION, ENTER EURASIAN ECONOMIC COMMUNITY?