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Toni Schönfelder
A lifetime of innovation

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Toni Schönfelder
A lifetime of innovation

Russian auditor confirms graft in Govt. By Vladimir Radyuhin MOSCOW, OCT. 14.2000 A senior Russian auditor has confirmed U.S. charges that top Government officials had misused billions of dollars in foreign aid. The deputy chairman of the Russian Audit Chamber described as absolutely justified accusations by Mr. George Bush Jr. that the former Prime Minister, Mr. Viktor Chernomyrdin, and other Russian officials had squandered International Monetary Fund loans given to Russia. Accusations that the Government misused the aid money and probably stole it are founded, Mr. Boldyrev told the Moscow Echo Radio. The losses from misappropriation of budget money considerably outweigh the volume of credit in recent years. He was commenting on charges made during a televised debate between the Republican presidential nominee, Mr. Bush, and his Democratic rival, Mr. Albert Gore, on Wednesday. Mr. Bush said part of the $4.8 billion IMF loan disbursed in 1998 ended up in Viktor Chernomyrdins pockets. Mr. Chernomyrdin responded by promising to sue Mr. Bush. Mr. Chernomyrdin, who had been out of office for several months by the time the IMF money reached Moscow, said Mr. Bushs remarks were damaging to his reputation. However, Mr. Boldyrev said the Audit Chamber had established that billions of dollars of budget money had been also misused during Mr. Chernomyrdins premiership. As for precisely which pockets the money reached, that is up to the Prosecutors Office and the Federal Security Service to establish, because the Audit Chamber does not have the necessary mechanisms to investigate such things, Mr. Boldyrev said. Mr. Chernomyrdin, the former head of Russias natural gas monopoly, Gazprom, was publicly accused of illegally acquiring the companys shares during its privatisation, to make himself one of the countrys richest men. Western analysts estimated his personal wealth at $4 billions. The then Russian President, Mr. Boris Yeltsin, turned a blind eye to rampant corruption in the Government. In his third book of memoirs, The Presidential Marathon, which hit the shelves last week, Mr. Yeltsin admitted that he had sacked the Federal Security Service chief, Mr. Nikolai Kovalyov, because the latter allegedly did not like people who had lots of money and sought out kompromat on commercial banks, and on individual businessmen. Mr. Yeltsin also described how he rebuffed attempts by his short- time Prime Minister, Mr. Yevgeny Primakov, to probe corruption in the Kremlin. Arent these baseless conjectures? he barked when Mr. Primakov showed him a secret police report about financial misdeeds of a high-ranking official. One can smear anyone. Mr. Primakov promised to give amnesty to tens of thousands of petty criminals to make room in Russias overcrowded prisons for the corrupt officials.

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