Ex-Public Prosecutor General Yury Skuratov tells to PRAVDA.Ru correspondent about circumstances of the action brought in connection with Moscow Kremlin’s restoration
Q. Yury, namely the action brought against former leader of the President’s Administration Pavel Borodin was the main reason, why your career of Public Prosecutor General of Russia was finished. Now, Pavel Borodin has been brought in a verdict of guilty by Swiss Public Prosecutor’s Office, while there was no trial. When did information about Pavel Borodin appear in the Public Prosecutor General’s Office?
A. In May, 1998, when then-Public Prosecutor of Switzerland (and today’s Chief Prosecutor of The Hague Tribunal’s) Carla del Ponte came to Moscow with an official visit and said to me that she possessed official information about Russian high functionaries’ implication in corruption. She asked me: “Will you work at this material?” She made me to understand that he was not sure of the possibility to overcome upper-level corruption in Russia. I was sorry for the country, because I sincerely believed that we could it, all the more there had been already such precedents. I answered to her, that all Russian citizens have equal rights before law, so she should send the materials. The documents were sent through the Swiss ambassador to Russia. That was a reference of Swiss Public Prosecutor’s Office and a report of the Swiss police, where the question was about Borodin and about persons implicated in the Mabetex case. There were data witnessing their implication in corruption. Basing on these materials, we carried out an examination. We received information about bringing in by Mr Bedzhet Pakolli big sums of money, which was not declared. He was also detained, though later, by the demand of the President’s Administration released. We added this material to the case as well as some others. We brought an action in October 1998. The investigation was secret. I understood that if an outflow of information took place, I would have troubles. We managed to keep secret till a search was carried out after my appeal by Swiss Public Prosecutor’s Office in Lugano headquarters of Mabetex firm. Through this search, we received important information. According to the search’s result, a conclusion could be made about the “family” and Yeltsin’s implication in criminal activity. Copies of credit cards belonging to the president’s daughters Tatyana Dyachenko and Yelena Okulova were found, as well as of Boris Yeltsin himself. Information was received that money from Mabetex and Merkato firms were transmitted to accounts which formally belonged to Borodin. We had to find out for what aims the means had been spent. The search was carried out January 27-28, 1999. When this became known in Russia, on February 1, I was called to the President’s Administration and proposed to send in my resignation. The information was carefully checked up and later confirmed through a more careful investigation carried out by the Public Prosecutor General’s Office after my resignation. The case could not be closed immediately because of a very powerful public pressure. According to the court’s decision, I could return to my duties, though Yeltsin ignored all the decisions and did not admit me to the office by force. At first, Yury Chaika was appointed acting Public Prosecutor General, afterwards Vladimir Ustinov. Then, the case was closed.
Q. How much currency was illegally brought in the country, and what was the mechanism of the theft?
A. While carrying out the investigation, we understood that it would be impossible to prove the fact of theft in the Kremlin’s restoration. We understood that the Counting House would not be our ally, there was no estimate for the restoration work, while contracts were signed for every square metre of the works. We went another way. To prove the fact of bribe, it is not necessary to prove that the functionary abused his position. All signs of the bribe were obvious. For contracts, the functionary gave to some firms, great sums of several million dollars were transmitted to his accounts. Our task was to prove that was a bribe. The investigation successfully moved this way. When the case was handed over to other hands to close it, the investigation changed its course, therefore the Counting House’s conclusion appeared, which had not found out facts of theft. While the main version was practically not worked out at all. Swiss Public Prosecutor’s Office, while seeing that the situation had been changed and the case had become a political colour, started its own investigation to finish the case. And in my view, they finished it.
Q. You state that Borodin has taken dozens of millions for his own. What proofs do you have? A. I do not state, because I do not possess the conclusion of the investigation, though there was such a version. First, there is information about Borodin’s accounts, and later some documents appeared confirming the fact of these accounts’ existence. Second, the main question which still remains without answer, for what aims money was spent from Borodin’s accounts. Borodin is a tragic figure in this case, because there is an assumption he has not spent this money for himself, but, probably for President Yeltsin. His role was purely technical. The schemes of transmitting these means through Mabetex firm were published in Segodnya newspaper and in some other editions. It is interesting to consider this case in full scope and to see other lines of the investigation. I suppose, we will have such a possibility. Though some ways of transmitting money were disclosed. The scheme of these projects’ financing is very interesting for the investigation. There were four sources of financing: the state budget’s means, means borrowed from foreign banks, oil quota which was sold. A half of means was spent for payments, another half was spend for unknown aims, the sum of 720 million dollars received from oil sale, a half of this sum was never found. One more source of financing – that are bills of the President’s administrative department. I am not sure that all these bills have been paid. It is a pity, that this investigation has not been carried out in Swiss-Russian cooperation. Because Switzerland tried to fight against Russian corruption. While Russia safely buried this investigation. This case could have been an example of the cooperation of the Public Prosecutor General’s Office with other countries.
Q. Functionaries of what level could be implicated in the case?
A. Unfortunately, we do not possess all materials of the case. I know, that not only Borodin had the accounts, but other leaders of the President Administration as well. The investigation was concentrated on Borodin, while other episodes were not considered. I know, that some functionaries also were fined for money laundering. There was a big group of implicated. This had been developing for several years. Mabetex firm functioned for several years, they built many objects. The case could have been fully cleared up only with Russia’s support. If I were the Swiss Public Prosecutor, I would not bring this action without Russian side’s support.
Q. Was the head of the President Administration Alexandr Voloshin close to President Yeltsin at that time?
A. No, when Mabetex started its activity in the Russian market, Voloshin was working for the Kremlin. Though, the text of his negotiations was published: while talking to somebody, he said that Borodin is the cross we must bear, we all should protect Borodin. Therefore, they protect Yeltsin, all this oligarch and corrupted system, which was formed at the time of the “family.” In other words, they protect themselves. Of course, Switzerland did not have enough power to overcome the state machine of Russia, protecting Borodin and hindering from valuable investigation. With their final conclusion, the Swiss showed that Borodin was guilty. If he himself does not agree with this conclusion, let him call in question this decision. His lawyers say that this is only one more jitters, however, the question is about a well known person, so the appraisal of him by the legal bodies is important. I suppose, Borodin has no reasons to be glad, the decision of the Public Prosecutor’s Office shows who was right in the dispute.
Q. Did many people attack you after you started to throw light on the Mebetex case?
A. Of course, many people did: starting from Boris Yeltsin, then secretary of the Security Council Nikolai Bordyuzhy, Yeltsin’s daughter Tatyana Dyachenko, her today’s husband Valentin Yumashev, “young reformer” Anatoly Chubais… Many people wanted to settle scores with me. Oligarchs Boris Berezovsky and Vladimir Gusinsky, who are wanted now, actively participated in this case, as well as today’s culture minister Mikhail Shwydkoy. The investigation found out that was he who ordered at that time to show in TV this false record (a man similar to me with prostitutes). It is just laughable to call such a person culture minister. My former deputies also participated in it: Yury Chaika is now justice minister, who was awarded, as well as Alexandr Rozanov, my ex-friend, who participated in my discredit. There were many people who thirsted for my blood. Some of them had personal reasons, others simply tried to rescue themselves, while the third simply accounted on promotion. The main thing is that all this finally caused illegal activities against the Public Prosecutor General’s Office, which was the way to replace me through blackmail and pressure. This is a crime. The highest ranks of the country’s leadership turned out to be implicated in the case. They started to shelter Mabetex. And can we now speak about fight on corruption, if all these persons still occupy the same posts. It is simply impossible that they really start to do something. A friend of mine who has been to United Arab Emirates told that they have only oil and they live as if in a communist dream. While we, possessing not only oil, but forests, ores and many other things, why are we so poor? The question is obvious: we have wallowed in corruption. We cannot speak about prosperity, while we still have this issue. We prepared a plan of anti-corruption fight and of measures for returning money illegally removed from Russia. I was removed from the case April 2, 1999. Within these two years, the case of Mabetex and Povel Borodin was closed, while nothing was done to return illegally removed money from abroad. The bosses are not interested in it.
Q. Tell me, please, did then-internal minister of Russia and today’s chairman of the Counting House, Sergei Stepashin also participate in your displacement?
A. His participation was nominal. He tried to compromise in this opposition, which appeared between us. This person does not have a hard professional pivot, as well as he does not have a hard male character. Probably, this was the reason why Yeltsin did not appointed him his successor. When Berezovsky was an oligarch, neither Internal Ministry nor Federal Security Service disturbed him. After having carried out an examination on Aeroflot company’s case in January 1999, I brought an action. We started to intensively carry out an investigation and in March came to the conclusion that Berezovsky must be imprisoned. Because he would hinder from the investigation, if he was in freedom. Stepashin said to journalists he was not sure of this measure being necessary. This was the internal minister’s statement, while he had no right to discuss the Public Prosecutor General’s decision, he must simply realize it. He was simply afraid. He plaid into the “family” hand. He is a decent person and a good manager, though he does not have enough hardness a worker of law-enforcement bodies should have. Q. Who applied a seal on your office?
A. Rushailo did, ex-internal minister who brought to such a level of corruption of this institution. It turned out that there were not so many people with principles. I do not want to condemn people who carried out Yeltsin’s criminal orders against me.
Q. Rushailo was the man of Berezovsky. Was Berezovsky acquainted with Pavel Borodin?
A. Of course, they had normal relations. I suppose it could be seen that Borodin and Berezovsky had consolidated in their fight against me. They realized a common task. Berezovsky had his reason: he was protecting himself from the Aeroflot case and supported Sergei Dubinin as his banker, who helped him. Though, the main strike was delivered on me because of the Mabetex case.
Yury Skuratov was inverviewed by Ilya Tarasov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Vera Solovieve
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2002/03/23/38693.html