The old story of Pavel Borodin resurfaced again yesterday, when Italian prosecutors issued warrants to arrests Borodin's daughter and seven more Russian citizens charged with money-laundering during the reconstruction of the Kremlin in the mid-1990s. The exact reconstruction costs are unknown, but they are huge -- billions of dollars; many think, and more evidence emerges that the bulk of this money was stolen by Boris Eltzin's family and his "court".
One of the accused is the former head of Rosvooruzhenie -- the Russian state firm that sells weapons. An ex-KGB general, Evgeni Ananiev, created his own offshore company to hide transactions, while taking kick-backs from the sale of MiG-29 military jets to Peru. Ananiev was found to have laundered $2.7 million dollars through Italy, Borodin's daughter - $5 million dollars. In 1997, $62.5 million dollars were wired from the accounts of the Swiss company Mercata, which was doing the Kremlin construction work; all that money was later traced to the Island of Man, to the accounts of Lightstar Company - created by Borodin and his friends.
Italian prosecutor Stephano Dragone says that "this money is just a small piece of a huge affair that harmed Russia". Russian courts that lack independence from the Kremlin don't want to know anything about the accusations; Borodin hasn't bothered to respond to the charges. However, these days many independent analyists notice that European and American courts are the last hope for a fair trial in cases of Russian corruption, as the case of Adamov, and the previous arrest of Borodin demonstrate.
There is a problem though -- Russian mafiya, government and businesses are so tied together, that they prefer to defend each other. Borodin's spokesman is making fun of the Italian prosecutors, accusing them of being paid by Borodin's opponents, while the Italians vow that they have all the necessary evidence to put Borodin and his cronies in jail.
This is also the reason why real estate prices in Sochi, a Russian southern resort town, are higher than in Manhattan -- many crooks love the resort feel, but few nowadays dare to go abroad, where they can still be brought to justice. It seems to be Catch 22: you can steal all you want, but you can't really use it all. However, if you are satisfied with the Russian climate, aren't a world traveller, and have tens of millions of dollars -- life is good! As a Russian, I just hope that Borodin and his daughter decide to see Rome one day, so they could finally go to jail for stealing from aged pensioners, underpaid Russian soldiers, teachers and doctors.