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The BBC's Raphael Jesurum
"Russia is likely to watch carefully"
 real 56k

Saturday, 7 April, 2001, 22:25 GMT 23:25 UK
Swiss charge former Kremlin aide
Pavel Borodin being taken to court in Geneva
A police van takes Pavel Borodin to court in Geneva
Former top Kremlin aide, Pavel Borodin, has been extradited to Switzerland and formally charged with money laundering and belonging to a criminal organisation.

Mr Borodin, 54, was detained in New York in January on an international arrest warrant issued by a Swiss judge.

The Swiss authorities accuse Mr Borodin of taking millions of dollars in bribes from two Swiss construction companies in return for contracts to renovate the Kremlin and other public buildings in Moscow while Boris Yeltsin was president.

He denies the charges.

Pavel Borodin
Mr Borodin denies wrongdoing

Mr Borodin was formally charged after a two-hour meeting with Geneva investigating judge Daniel Devaud.

His lawyer, Domique Poncet, told reporters: "Mr. Borodin has been indicted formally on charges which are well known, money-laundering and belonging to a criminal organisation, which he totally contests".

Mr Borodin was one of former Russian President Boris Yeltsin's closest confidants.

Sidelined by Putin

He was one of the first officials removed from the Kremlin by President Vladimir Putin last year, as the new Kremlin chief sought to distance himself from corruption scandals dogging his predecessor.

Mr Borodin is currently the secretary of the Russia-Belarus Union. Though largely ceremonial, the position guarantees him legal immunity in Russia.

Supporters in New York protest against Pavel Borodin's arrest in January
Supporters protest Mr Borodin's innocence

In December, Russian prosecutors closed an investigation into whether Mr Borodin accepted bribes from two Swiss firms - Mabetex and Mercata - to take part in the renovation of the Kremlin, laundering the money in Swiss accounts.

They also decided not to investigate allegations linking Mr Yeltsin and his family to the affair; allegations the Yeltsin entourage deny.

The Russian news agency, Interfax, quoted the deputy chief of the special investigations department of the Russian Prosecutor-General's Office, Ruslan Tamayev, as saying there was "no case" against Mr Borodin.

However, the Geneva courts have continued to freeze bank accounts held by a Swiss construction company involved in the Kremlin scandal.

An appeal against the decision to remand him in custody is due to be heard later this week.

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See also:

26 Jan 01 | Europe
Former Yeltsin aide denied bail
19 Jan 01 | Europe
Yeltsin aide held in US jail
27 Jan 00 | Europe
Arrest warrant for Yeltsin aide
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