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Russia: Magistrate Rules Borodin Must Remain In U.S. Jail

  • Robert McMahon

Former senior Kremlin aide Pavel Borodin is to remain in prison in the United States for at least a week until a hearing can be held on his bail status. Russian officials are protesting his detention by U.S. authorities and legal representatives are challenging Swiss prosecutors' claims that he laundered money received from Swiss companies contracted to renovate the Kremlin.

New York, 19 January 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Pavel Borodin will remain in U.S. federal custody at least until next Thursday, following his arrest this week on a Swiss warrant accusing him of money laundering.

Borodin appeared briefly in U.S. District Court in New York City yesterday for a hearing that was mostly procedural. U.S. Magistrate Viktor Pohorelsky directed Borodin's attorney, Raymond Levites, to return next week with a proposal for bail.

Among the suggestions made yesterday was that Borodin remain in the Russian consulate in New York City and wear an electronic monitoring device.

Meanwhile, Swiss authorities are expected soon to formally request Borodin's extradition to face charges of laundering $25 million. He allegedly received the money in improper payments from two Swiss companies -- Mabetex and Mercata -- contracted to renovate the Kremlin during Boris Yeltsin's presidency.

Borodin, as former head of the Kremlin property administration, presided over the renovation of the Kremlin. Russian prosecutors last year closed their own investigation into the case after an investigation of two years. They said Swiss authorities had failed to prove Borodin committed a crime.

Borodin's attorney, Levites, yesterday presented in court a letter from the Russian Prosecutor-General's Office reiterating that the Swiss complaints do not constitute a crime in Russia. Borodin's attorney in Russia, Boris Kuznetsov, also indicates in an interview with RFE/RL that Swiss authorities have no jurisdiction in the case.

"All the events took place on the territory of the Russian Federation. Contracts were concluded with Mercata Trading and Mabetex concerning the Moscow palace and the counting house, the president's airplane. All these events, were taking place in Russia."

Borodin is expected to claim diplomatic immunity, although he was carrying a non-official passport and a business visa when he was seized Wednesday night at a New York airport by U.S. federal agents.

Borodin's U.S. attorney said his diplomatic passport was given to the U.S. mission in Moscow when he recently requested a visa to come to the United States. It was never returned. He is currently secretary of the Russia-Belarus Union, a mostly ceremonial post that oversees efforts to form a union between Russia and Belarus.

In response to protests by the Russian Foreign Ministry, U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the U.S. is legally obliged to arrest Borodin under its extradition treaty with Switzerland.

"He was traveling to the United States with a regular and non-official passport and a business visa that was issued in 1998. We don't have any record or indication that he was accredited to any embassy, consulate or international organization in the United States, and thus he would not be immune from arrest."

Russian Consul-General Pavel Prokofiev told Reuters news agency that Borodin was visiting the United States to attend tomorrow's presidential inauguration in Washington at the invitation of an American company. He declined to identify the company.

The 54-year-old Borodin concluded his hearing yesterday with a special request for five medications he is taking, for the treatment of diabetes, a heart condition, and other ailments.

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