8 July 2003, Volume
MOSCOW SUICIDE BOMBERS KILL 13, INJURE DOZENS...
Two female suicide bombers detonated explosives attached to their bodies on 5 July near the entrance to an open-air rock concert in the Moscow neighborhood of Tushino, Russian and Western media reported. The women, believed to be Chechen fighters, killed themselves and 13 others, wounding 59. The women attempted to enter the concert grounds, where a crowd of more than 40,000 people had gathered, but were stopped by security guards at the entrance. According to the reports, one of the women then detonated her explosives. Fifteen minutes later, after security forces and rescue teams had arrived on the scene, the second woman triggered a second, more powerful blast, RTR reported on 5 July. First Deputy Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliev, who is heading the investigation, said that in order to prevent panic and avoid additional injuries, it was decided not to make an announcement about the explosions until after the concert....AS BOMBERS BELIEVED TO BE CHECHEN FIGHTERS.
NurgAliyev said that identification papers were found on the body of one of the bombers, identifying her as a resident of Chechnya. He added that the ministry believes the women belonged to an armed detachment of Chechen fighters, RTR and NTV reported. No one has yet taken responsibility for the bombing. Salanbek Maigov, who represents Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov in Moscow, said that Maskhadov and his forces had nothing to do with the incident and that they condemn such tactics, Ekho Moskvy reported.POLITICIANS RESPOND TO BOMBING...
President Vladimir Putin on 6 July sent his condolences to the victims of the 5 July bombing in Tushino and their relatives, ORT and ITAR-TASS reported. He called the incident "a bloody and cowardly crime aimed at sowing fear and ethnic intolerance in society." Putin also cancelled a planned trip to Uzbekistan and Malaysia that was due to begin on 7 July. Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov decreed that the city will hold a day of mourning on 8 July. Speaking to journalists in the Netherlands, State Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev said he believes that the suicide bombing was linked to President Putin's 4 July decree setting the date for the presidential election in Chechnya (see item below), strana.ru reported. Union of Rightist Forces leader Boris Nemtsov said the incident occurred because "the Chechen tragedy has not been solved, but has instead been hidden under the carpet." "If the federal government does not seriously cope with the peace process in Chechnya, there will not only not be peace in that republic but in the entire country," Nemtsov said, according to newsru.com on 5 July. Democratic Union leader and Soviet-era human rights activist Valeriya Novodvorskaya was quoted by newsru.com on 6 July as saying, "If we have no pity for the Chechens, then they will not feel sorry for us either."...AS CHECHEN FOREIGN MINISTRY DENIES RESPONSIBILITY.
The government of Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov was not in any way involved in the 5 July suicide bombings in Moscow, according to a Chechen Foreign Ministry statement released the same day and posted on the Foreign Ministry's website (http://www.chechnya-mfa.info). The statement repeated that the Chechen leadership rejects such suicide bombings and condemns all acts of terrorism. It again called on the Russian leadership to embark on talks with Maskhadov on ways to end the war. Maskhadov last month issued specific instructions to fighters under his command to abide by the Geneva Conventions (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 June 2003).
PUTIN SETS CHECHEN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION DATE...
After talks in Moscow on 4 July with Chechen administration head Akhmed-hadji Kadyrov and with Hussein Isaev, head of the Chechen interim parliament, President Putin signed a decree scheduling the elections for a new Chechen president for 5 October, Russian media reported. Isaev had written to Putin 10 days ago asking him to schedule the ballot for October in order to accelerate the process of stabilizing the situation in Chechnya (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 June 2003). Kadyrov on 4 July reaffirmed his intention to run for president, denying at the same time that he is motivated by love of power. He said he wants to finish the job he started, end the war, and eradicate the possibility of a new conflict between Chechnya and Russia, Interfax reported....AND HANDS CONTROL OF CHECHEN OPERATION TO INTERIOR MINISTRY.
President Putin on 4 July signed a decree ordering that as of 1 September operational command of the "antiterrorism operation" in the North Caucasus be transferred from the Federal Security Service (FSB) to the Interior Ministry, Russian media reported. The FSB took over responsibility for operations in Chechnya from the Russian Defense Ministry in January 2001 (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," 25 January 2001). According to the 4 July decree, overall command of the operation will fall to Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov, while the head of the Interior Ministry's Main Directorate in the Southern Federal District, Colonel General Mikhail Pankov, will be in operational command. Putin met in the Kremlin on 4 July with Chechen administration head Kadyrov and other regional leaders and urged them to strengthen the Chechen police force and to "expose the traitors" within its ranks. He also urged Kadryov to be tolerant with former Chechen fighters who lay down their arms. "If a man's hands are not soiled with blood, one should not dwell upon his past," Putin said.
PUTIN EXTENDS GREETINGS TO BUSH ON INDEPENDENCE DAY.
President Vladimir Putin spoke by telephone on 2 July with U.S. President George W. Bush, polit.ru and RIA-Novosti reported. The presidents discussed a wide range of bilateral and international issues ranging from trade relations to combating international terrorism. They also discussed practical measures to combat the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the agenda of the U.S.-Russia summit to be held in September. Putin also took the opportunity to convey his best wishes on the occasion of the 4 July holiday in the United States.MOSCOW REAFFIRMS ITS PARTICIPATION IN IRAN'S NUCLEAR PROGRAM.
Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov met in Moscow on 30 June with visiting Iranian Vice President Qolam Reza Aqazadeh-Khoi, who oversees Tehran's nuclear program, RIA-Novosti and iran.ru reported. During the talks, Ivanov confirmed Russia's intention of meeting all its obligations relating to the construction of the nuclear-power plant at Bushehr. Ivanov also reiterated Moscow's assurances that the Bushehr plant will be "in strict compliance with the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty." He also again called on Tehran to sign the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) Additional Protocol, which would open the way for international inspections of all Iranian nuclear sites. By signing the protocol, Ivanov said, Tehran would prove "the peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear program." Strana.ru on 30 June commented that judging from Aqazadeh-Khoi's schedule of talks with Russian Security Council and Atomic Energy Ministry officials, he came to Moscow seeking advice on his country's overall nuclear strategy. The website added that Moscow will likely seek to play the role of mediator between Washington and Tehran.ROMANIA, RUSSIA SIGN BASIC TREATY.
In Moscow on 4 July, Romanian President Ion Iliescu and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin signed the Romanian-Russian basic treaty, Romanian Radio reported. Putin noted that the two countries began negotiations on the treaty in 1992, and its signing is evidence that bilateral relations have matured. Iliescu said Romania seeks to establish a privileged partnership with Russia. The signing of the treaty was preceded by the signing of a common declaration by the countries' foreign ministers that deals with issues unsettled in the treaty, such as the repatriation to Romania of gold and cultural items confiscated by the Soviet Union after World War I. The two parties agreed to set up a joint commission to resolve the issue. The declaration condemns the 1939 Ribbentrop-Molotov pact as well as Romania's participation in World War II on the side of Nazi Germany.ROMANIAN PRESIDENT WRAPS UP VISIT TO RUSSIA.
President Iliescu ended his three-day visit to Russia on 5 July in St. Petersburg, where he attended the opening of a Romanian Consulate he said will serve both a diplomatic and economic role, Romanian media reported. Following his 3 July meeting with Russian State Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev in Moscow, Iliescu said that through their basic treaty, the two countries seek to establish a framework to facilitate long-term relationships among their respective government institutions. Seleznev said the Duma will ratify the treaty next fall. The same day, 250 leaders of Romanian companies who were part of the visiting Romanian delegation participated in an economic forum focusing on the possibilities offered by bilateral cooperation. Some 300 Russian businessmen also attended the meeting. On 4 July, Iliescu spoke to representatives of Gazprom and other Russian gas companies regarding the possibility of establishing a joint Romanian-Russian company to transport natural gas from Russia to Romania. They also discussed the possibility of building a pipeline for oil and natural gas from Russia to the Romanian port of Constanta.
ELITE MOSCOW POLICE DEPARTMENT FACES MAJOR SHAKE-UP.
More than 700 officers have been suspended from the Criminal Investigations Department (MUR) of the Moscow Interior Ministry directorate, the department where six of the seven high-ranking law enforcement officials arrested on 23 June worked, "Izvestiya" reported on 30 June. For decades, this department has been glorified in films and books as a symbol of heroic and virtuous law enforcement. According to the paper, all the suspended MUR officers will be questioned about possible corruption before being returned to duty. A major purge is expected among the chiefs of MUR's units and divisions. Interior Minister Gryzlov said that the situation will not hamper MUR's anticrime operations. " MUR is one of the most famous and elite divisions in the Interior Ministry," Gryzlov said, according to the newspaper. "It works well and will continue working well."OFFICIAL PLEDGES THAT INVESTIGATION INTO ALLEGED POLICE CORRUPTION WILL BE IMPARTIAL.
Speaking to journalists in Moscow on 1 July, Deputy Interior Minister Vladimir Vasilev said that the cases of the recently arrested senior police officials accused of massive corruption and links with organized crime (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24, 25, and 30 June 2003) will be investigated impartially and in strict accordance with the law, Russian media reported. He acknowledged widespread criticism that the arrests are part of a pre-election promotional campaign for Unified Russia, which is headed by Interior Minister Gryzlov, but said that it is pointless to argue with such comments. "Everybody is entitled to have their own opinion," Vasilev said. "Russia has a civilized system of justice that conforms to international standards." Vasilev also said that because of public concerns about this case, it will be kept under meticulous and impartial control, including public scrutiny.COMMUNISTS, LIBERALS BELIEVE INTERIOR MINISTER IS EITHER VIOLATING THE LAW...
A group of State Duma deputies on 1 July appealed to the Justice Ministry to issue a warning to the pro-Kremlin Unified Russia party, claiming that its leader, Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov, is violating a federal law prohibiting the combination of governmental duties and political-party activities, Russian media reported. The group includes Communist deputies Sergei Glazev, Viktor Ilyukhin, and Igor Rodionov, and Russian Regions Deputy Georgii Tikhonov. Ilyukhin told reporters in Moscow that Gryzlov has been violating the law, even though he is formally not a member of Unified Russia, RosBalt reported....OR THAT HE HAS TOO MUCH FREE TIME...
Interior Minister Gryzlov on 29 June commented that he feels that he is first and foremost the interior minister and that "in my free time, I am a supporter of Unified Russia," Interfax reported. "As chairman of the party's Supreme Council I am responsible for the party's preparations for State Duma elections," Gryzlov said. In an informal survey published on 2 July, "Kommersant-Daily" asked politicians if they think Gryzlov is behaving honestly. Liberal Democratic Party of Russia leader Vladimir Zhirinovskii responded: "[Emergency Situations Minister Sergei] Shoigu and Gryzlov said many times that they are leading the party, but are not members of it. It's impossible to find fault with this legally or formally. [But] this clever variation is possible only in Russia." Union of Rightist Forces faction leader Boris Nemtsov declared that his party is ready to support Gryzlov's fight against crime, but only if he gives up his post at Unified Russia. Aleksei Volin, deputy director of the government apparatus, declared: "Neither Gryzlov nor Shoigu are party members. They are only sympathizers. Besides, no one has the right to stop ministers from thinking and feeling."...AS UNIFIED RUSSIA LAWYER JUSTIFIES INTERIOR MINISTER'S PARTY ROLE.
Anatolii Kucherena, a well-known lawyer who is also the coordinator of Unified Russia's election campaign, has acknowledged that Russian law bars senior government officials from engaging in political-party activities, strana.ru reported on 1 July. However, he added that Interior Minister Gryzlov fulfills his duties as the head of Unified Russia in his spare time. Kucherena was responding to inquiries by State Duma deputies asking him to justify Gryzlov's dual roles as a party leader and a cabinet minister. Kucherena said that the law does not explicitly forbid officials from engaging in party activity in their off-work hours and during vacations. Asked about Gryzlov's recent announcements regarding the high-profile 23 June arrests of seven senior police officials, Kucherena said that Gryzlov has every right to comment on the performance of his ministryPROSECUTORS FILE INDICTMENTS IN CASE OF ALLEGEDLY CORRUPT POLICE...
Prosecutors on 2 July filed indictments against Lieutenant General Vladimir Ganeev and six other senior law enforcement officials who were arrested on 23 June (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 June 2003), Russian media reported. Ganeev, who is the head of security at the Emergency Situations Ministry, faces charges of organizing a criminal group, abuse of office, and illegally trafficking in precious stones, and faces a possible prison term of up to 20 years. According to his lawyer, Ganeev maintains his innocence and is not cooperating with the investigation. He is demanding that his case be transferred to the Military Prosecutor's Office in order to minimize publicity. Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu said that he has doubts that Ganeev is guilty. "Only the courts can decide this," Shoigu added, according to ORT on 2 July. Prosecutors also brought charges against the other six officers involved: Yevgenii Taratorkin, Yurii Samolkin, Igor Ostrovskii, Aleksandr Breshchanov, Vadim Vladimirov, and Nikolai Demin. The six all face seven-count indictments on charges ranging from ordering murders to extortion and fabricating evidence in criminal cases. They face a maximum sentence of life in prison....AND IN CASE OF DUMA DEPUTY'S KILLING.
The Prosecutor-General's Office on 2 July also filed an indictment against Mikhail Kodanev, the co-chairman of the Liberal Russia splinter group that supports self-exiled tycoon Boris Berezovskii, and his aide, Aleksandr Vinnik, in connection with the 17 April killing of Duma Deputy Sergei Yushenkov, lenta.ru and other Russian media reported. Kodanev's lawyer, Yurii Khavronin, said that Kodanev, who is being held in Lefortovo prison in Moscow, maintains his innocence and is not cooperating with the investigation, newsru.com reported on 2 July. Viktor Kurochkin, another official with Kodanev's branch of Liberal Russia, said that Vinnik admitted to killing Yushenkov while under the influence of unknown drugs that were given to him by investigators, gazeta.ru reported on 2 July. Kurochkin added that investigators are looking into economic and criminal motives for Yushenkov's killing, while he believes that it is clearly a political murder.NEW DEVELOPMENTS IN CASE OF SLAIN DEPUTY.
Genri Reznik, one of Russia's most prominent human rights lawyers and the head of the Moscow Lawyers' Chamber, has declined to defend Mikhail Kodanev, the co-chairman of the Liberal Russia party splinter group that supports self-exiled tycoon Boris Berezovskii, who was arrested on 26 June for allegedly ordering the killing of Duma Deputy and Liberal Russia co-Chairman Sergei Yushenkov (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 June 2003), "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 1 July. Reznik said that he had preliminarily told Berezovskii that he would defend Kodanev, but that he changed his mind because of concerns that doing so would jeopardize the work of the Moscow Lawyers' Chamber, according to the daily, which is controlled by Berezovskii. The tycoon was quoted as saying that Reznik's decision "testifies to the elimination of independent lawyers in Russia." Aleksandr Vinnik, who was arrested on 25 June, has reportedly confessed to killing Yushenkov on Kodanev's order, "Kommersant-Daily" reported.SOURCE: SECURITY COUNCIL SECRETARY MIGHT BE TARGET OF CORRUPTION PROBE.
An unidentified source within the team investigating the senior law enforcement officials who were arrested on 23 June on suspicion of corruption, abuse of office, and links with organized crime (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23, 24, and 25 June and 3 July 2003) said that the alleged group of crooked police officers was not headed by Lieutenant General Vladimir Ganeev, press-center.ru reported on 3 July. The source reportedly said that investigators would like to interrogate former Interior Minister Vladimir Rushailo, who currently is secretary of the Security Council. "We have some very unpleasant questions for him," the source said. He added that materials concerning Rushailo had already been sent to the Prosecutor-General's Office and to President Putin. Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu denied on 6 July that the arrest of Ganeev, who headed security at the Emergency Situations Ministry, will affect the ministry's work, RTR reported. "Ganeev was arrested for [alleged] activity that has nothing to do with the operation of the ministry," Shoigu said. Nonetheless, state-controlled RTR television showed a dour-looking Shoigu making the surprising suggestion to Putin in the president's Kremlin office that his ministry be reduced by 50 percent. Putin agreed to consider the request. Both Rushailo and Shoigu are holdovers from the era of former President Boris Yeltsin, and have reportedly never been fully accepted by Putin loyalists.NEW ANTIDRUG AGENCY UP AND RUNNING.
President Vladimir Putin on 1 July met in the Kremlin with State Committee on Drug Trafficking Chairman Viktor Cherkesov, who briefed the president on the status of his new agency, strana.ru and ORT reported. Putin issued a presidential creating the State Committee on Drug Trafficking on 11 March (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 March 2003). Cherkesov reportedly told Putin that the committee began working at full capacity on 1 July. Ultimately, the committee will have a staff of 40,000 people, which is roughly twice as many as formerly dealt with narcotics issues in all of the country's law enforcement agencies. He also told Putin that he is paying particular attention to security issues within the agency because experience has shown that the narcotics underworld is often able to corrupt law enforcement personnel. In an interview with RosBalt, which is headed by Cherkesov's wife, Natalya Chaplina, Cherkesov said the committee will be a full-fledged security agency not only investigating drug trafficking, but also looking into crimes that are often associated with narcotics, such as corruption and money laundering. He said the committee will monitor the country's legal pharmaceutical sector and represent Russia internationally in the area of antidrug law enforcement.
PROSECUTORS DETAIN YUKOS CO-OWNER FOR QUESTIONING ON EMBEZZLEMENT...
The Prosecutor-General's Office on 2 July announced that it is questioning billionaire Platon Lebedev, chairman of the board of directors of Menatep and chief financial strategist for oil giant Yukos, Russian media reported. Lebedev, who is also a major Yukos shareholder and whose net worth was estimated by "Forbes" magazine in March at $1 billion, has been detained without charge for 48 hours and is being questioned in connection with the alleged embezzlement in 1994 of $283 million from a Murmansk-based state-owned company called Apapit, RBK reported. A spokesman for the Prosecutor- General's Office said the questioning of Lebedev was initiated by a request from Duma Economic Policy and Entrepreneurship Committee Deputy Chairman Vladimir Yudin (Russian Regions), who alleged that a Duma probe found that Lebedev misappropriated 20 percent of Apapit's shares, newsru.com and gazeta.ru reported. Lebedev was invited to join Menatep in 1989 by oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovskii, who founded Menatep a year earlier and who is currently the head of Yukos. The prosecutors' spokesman also said that police several days ago arrested Aleksei Pichugin, a senior member of the Yukos security force, on suspicion that he organized the murders of two unspecified people in an unspecified region of Russia. The Prosecutor-General's Office has also opened a criminal investigation into charges of embezzlement against Ramil Burganov, the general director of Eastern Oil Company, a Yukos subsidiary. Police are searching for Burganov....BUT EXPERTS SEE YUKOS HEAD AS THE REAL TARGET...
Many analysts see the events at Yukos as an attack against Yukos CEO Khodorkovskii, who was listed by "Forbes" in March as the richest person in Russia, with a net worth estimated at $8 billion, and who has made no secret of his political ambitions. In an article released before the latest announcements from the Prosecutor-General's Office, "Argumenty i fakty," No. 27, wrote that unspecified hard-line elements within the security services were determined to initiate a campaign against Khodorkovskii's empire during Putin's recent trip to the United Kingdom. The article drew a parallel to the launching of a campaign against former oligarch Vladimir Gusinskii in 2000 while Putin was in Spain. The weekly hinted that Khodorkovskii was able to head off that assault at the last moment, but analysts believe he was only buying time....BECAUSE OF HIS GROWING POLITICAL AMBITIONS.
Newsru.com on 2 July commented that Lebedev, who is 46, is believed to be "the chief financial specialist of the Khodorkovskii empire," and Menatep is the empire's main financial arm. Khodorkovskii said on 2 July that the events "look similar to the actions of the groups of security officers who were arrested for corruption and blackmailing small businesses," newsru.com reported. Ekho Moskvy reported on 3 July that Khodorkovskii has provided considerable financial support for the Union of Rightist Forces and Yabloko, helping these parties to compete against the pro-Kremlin Unified Russia party in regional races. The radio station commented that Lebedev's detention is "the third warning" for Khodorkovskii.YUKOS BILLIONAIRE ARRESTED IN PRIVATIZATION-FRAUD CASE...
A district court in Moscow on 3 July approved an arrest warrant issued by the Prosecutor-General's Office for Lebedev, the billionaire chairman of the board of directors of Menatep, the financial arm of oil giant Yukos, Russian media reported. Lebedev is accused of embezzling about $300 million from the state in 1994 during the privatization of the Apapit fertilizer and chemical company (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 July 2003). On 4 July, prosecutors questioned Yukos CEO Khodorkovskii, who is believed to be the richest person in Russia, and Leonid Nevzlin, a former deputy of Khodorkovskii's who is now the rector of Russian State Humanitarian University. "Forbes" magazine in March listed Nevzlin among the richest people in Russia with a net worth estimated at $1.1 billion. Khodorkovskii and Nevzlin refused to discuss with journalists the content of their interrogation. Speaking to RTR on 6 July, Khodorkovskii said that Lebedev's arrest came as a complete surprise to him and that, having worked with Lebedev for 15 years, he has complete confidence in Lebedev's integrity. He also noted that the Apapit privatization was carried out under old regulations, not under the current Civil and Criminal codes....AS SPECULATION CONTINUES THAT OLIGARCH IS THE REAL TARGET...
Strana.ru commented on 3 July that it would be difficult to find a better target for a political strike against oligarch Khodorkovskii than Lebedev, who was in de facto control of all of Yukos's finances and who also holds in trust a controlling packet of the company's shares. The website added that many in the ruling elite do not like the fact that Khodorkovskii has concentrated such vast economic resources, which many suspect he intends to use for political purposes. Moreover, taking advantage of the Kremlin's wishes to integrate more fully Russia into the global economy, Khodorkovskii in recent months gained increasing international authority. This, the website argued, provides him with a more solid base for political activity than former oligarchs Boris Berezovskii or Vladimir Gusinskii had. Both of those men fled the country under intense pressure from the Kremlin.OLIGARCH TO TAKE OVER LEADING BRITISH SOCCER CLUB.
Chukotka Autonomous Okrug Governor and leading Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich will purchase a 50.09 percent stake in the London-based Premier League Chelsea soccer club for $98.6 million in cash, Russian and Western news agencies reported on 1 July, citing a press release from the team's owner, Chelsea Village PLC. According to Bloomberg, Abramovich will extend the same offer of $0.58 per share to the team's other shareholders. He will also assume the team's debts, which stand at more than $116.5 million. Abramovich, who is 36 and was recently listed by Britain's "Sunday Times" as the 19th richest person in Europe, is the major shareholder of oil giant Sibneft, which owns one of Russia's best hockey teams, Omsk-based Vanguard, the BBC and sovsport.ru reported. Although Chelsea Village PLC. described the sale as "fair and reasonable," British MP and former Sports Minister Tony Banks called for an inquiry into the sale, the BBC reported. "I want to know whether this individual is a fit and proper person to be taking over a club like Chelsea," Banks was quoted as saying....AND THAT OTHERS COULD BE TARGETED AT ANY TIME.
Over the last decade, the Interior Ministry and the FSB have collected huge numbers of files that can be activated at any moment whenever the political will to do so is manifest, strana.ru also commented on 3 July. This context sheds new light on the recent purchase by oligarch and Chukotka Autonomous Okrug Governor Roman Abramovich of a majority stake in London's Chelsea soccer club (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 July 2003). Was it just a legal way of transferring some capital abroad, the website asked.YABLOKO LEADER DENOUNCES 'POLITICAL PURGE' IN YUKOS CASE.
Speaking to journalists in Moscow on 5 July, Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii said that his party views the prosecutor-general's actions against Yukos executives as "a political purge before the elections, targeted at the suppression of political opponents," Russian media reported. Yabloko is one of a number of parties to receive financial support from Khodorkovskii. Yavlinskii said that Lebedev's arrest and the interrogations of Khodorkovskii and Nevzlin are steps that are beyond the bounds of law and common sense and that the real goal is to crush Yukos's effort to be independent and a transparent company operating according to international business standards. Such methods, however, cannot be used to escape from Russia's oligarchic system. "If such intimidation continues and is extended to other business entities, it will bring about devastating consequences for the economy and the country as a whole," Yavlinskii said.
U.S. COURT CONVICTS FOUR IN $100 MILLION FRAUD CASE.
The Federal District Court in Brooklyn, New York, on 28 June convicted four former employees of a fictitious brokerage firm founded by Russian citizen Andrei Kudashev, a former economics adviser to Moscow Oblast Governor Boris Gromov, lenta.ru, "Kommersant-Daily," and the BBC reported on 30 June. According to court documents, Kudashev created Evergreen International Spot Trading and the related clearinghouse First Equity Enterprises in 1997 and opened offices in the World Trade Center in New York City. Over the next few years, the company reportedly bilked about 1,500 investors from the United States and 13 other countries of about $100 million. The company sent investors false account reports while actually depositing the money in banks in Austria and Hungary. After 11 September 2001, investors discovered that they were unable to get any information about the firm, and it was revealed that Kudashev had fled the country with the company's money. An indictment for his arrest was issued in November 2001, and it is believed that he is currently in Moscow. The four Evergreen employees who were convicted are Polina Sirotina, Mamed Mekhtiev, Albert Guglielmo, and Philip Levenson, all of whom face up to 30 years' imprisonment. They are scheduled to be sentenced on 26 September, "The Moscow Times" reported on 1 July.BORDER GUARDS ARRESTED FOR ALLEGEDLY HELPING CRIMINAL SUSPECTS TO FLEE THE COUNTRY.
Three officers from the border-guard service were arrested in Moscow on 1 July on suspicion of helping wanted criminal suspects to escape abroad, ORT, gazeta.ru, and ITAR-TASS reported. Among those arrested was Lieutenant Colonel Sergei Karpov, who headed the border-guard unit at Moscow's Sheremetevo Airport, Russia's main international gateway. According to police sources, Karpov and the others, with the help of the owner of a private security agency, charged $3,000-$10,000 to smuggle wanted criminal suspects out of the country. The officers allegedly created fake foreign passports and counterfeit U.S. visas, to which they added genuine authorization stamps and then entered them into the country's computer database. Interior Ministry Main Moscow Directorate spokesman Filipp Zolotnitskii said that police confiscated 40 fake passports and a list of 15 people who had already been smuggled out of the country, but he did not divulge any of those names. He said that many more than those 15 suspects were involved.CONTROVERSIAL KRASNOYARSK BUSINESSMAN SENTENCED, RELEASED.
A Krasnoyarsk Krai court on 1 July sentenced former Krasnoyarsk Aluminum head Anatolii Bykov to one year in prison for his involvement in the 1996 murder of local businessman Oleg Gubin, Russian media reported. The court then immediately released him under the terms of a State Duma amnesty issued in 2000 on the occasion of the 55th anniversary of victory in World War II, RIA-Novosti reported on 1 July. The prosecutor, who had asked that Bykov be sentenced to nine years in prison, said he plans to appeal the court's sentence, and Bykov has also said that he will appeal his conviction. According to "Vremya novostei" on 2 July, prosecutors accused Bykov of not only being aware that the murder had been planned and of helping those who carried it out, but also of creating a criminal organization. However, the court dismissed the second charge.