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Yavlinsky Presses Putin on Borodin

By Oksana Yablokova

Staff Write

The Moscow Times, February 5, 2000

Grigory Yavlinsky has called on acting President Vladimir Putin to make his position clear on the situation involving Pavel Borodin, a former top Kremlin official who is wanted in Switzerland on charges of money laundering.

Putin "must finally and clearly indicate his position regarding high-ranking officials accused of corruption," Yabloko's Yavlinsky said Sunday night, Interfax reported.

Putin has made no public statement about Borodin. In January, Putin in effect distanced himself from Borodin by removing him from his post as the Kremlin's chief property manager and giving him the less important job as secretary of the Russia-Belarus union.

The fact that Putin has not reacted to the scandal is seen by some analysts as a sign of unwillingness to antagonize important political factions before the March 26 presidential elections.

Putin "does not need conflicts with Russia's political elite, including the old Kremlin group, on the eve of the election," said political analyst Andrei Ryabov of the Moscow Carnegie Center.

Putin's first job in the Kremlin, after moving to Moscow from the St. Petersburg city administration, was as one of Borodin's deputies.

Segodnya reported Monday that the Swiss authorities had planned a secret operation to arrest Borodin but that it was foiled by disclosure of the arrest order in the media last week.

Swiss officials quietly circulated the arrest order through Interpol in the hope of luring Borodin to Western Europe and having him arrested there, the report said. Under Russia's Constitution, he cannot be extradited.

Segodnya said Switzerland planned an operation similar to that which led to the arrest of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Pavel Lazarenko on the Swiss border last year. Borodin has denied wrongdoing and said he is ready to go to Switzerland for questioning.