Borodin's Former Lawyer Arrested in Belarus

MINSK -- The arrest of a U.S. lawyer in Belarus last week remained shrouded in mystery Tuesday as local authorities declined to provide any information on his detention.

Russian-born Emanuel Zeltser, 54, who heads a nongovernmental organization, the Russian-American Law Institute, was detained on March 12 as he arrived in Belarus for meetings with clients.

Belarus' KGB confirmed Zeltser's arrest but declined to provide any details.

Zeltser's brother Mark said by telephone from New York that he had not heard directly from Emanuel and does not know why he was arrested. He said he was very concerned. "He needs medication for gout and diabetes," Mark Zeltser said. "Some of his medications are considered narcotics in Belarus, and I don't know how to get them to him."

Emanuel Zeltser traveled from England with his secretary, Russian national Vladlena Funk, also detained. It was his first trip to Belarus, his brother said.

The case could worsen strained ties between the United States and Belarus.

Interfax said the arrest might have taken place at the request of Russian law enforcement authorities. Zeltser appeared in 1999 before a U.S. House committee as an expert witness on money laundering and fraud in Russia.

In 2001, Zeltser acted as defense lawyer for Pavel Borodin when the former senior Kremlin official was arrested in New York on money laundering charges. Borodin is now executive secretary of the Russia-Belarus Union.