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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Same Name, Same Methods, Different Masters

The two men who lead the opposing sides in Russia's corruption scandal may share a name, but they are hardly twins. They have never exchanged a word, let alone cooperated.


One of them, Andrei Makarov, is the large figure with pale features and dark curly hair who has recently become a regular feature on Russia's television news. He heads the anti-corruption team of President Boris Yeltsin.


The other, Deputy Public Prosecutor Nikolai Makarov, has a smaller frame, more weathered features and heads a corruption committee that was set up by Yeltsin's opponents in parliament.


"I have not once spoken with Makarov", Nikolai Makarov, the smaller of the two, said in a recent interview. "There was never any need to".


Corruption charges against political opponents have become as common in Moscow as Mercedes cars over the last six months, and the two Makarovs have been in the thick of the battle to dig the dirt on the political opposition.


The tactics they use are identical. Typically they accuse rival politicians with specific charges in public, but release little or no proof. The accused have usually responded with threats to sue the accuser, but no one has actually filed court papers.


The president's Makarov - Andrei - is best known for accusing Vice President Alexander Rutskoi of embezzling state funds. He has also alleged, based on a recording of a telephone conversation, that Public Prosecutor Valentin Stepankov planned his murder.


The other Makarov, Nikolai, has made accusations against First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Shumeiko, Defense Minister Pavel Grachev, and Mikhail Poltoranin, all close Yeltsin aides.


Both men have used well-honed legal skills to press their allegations. Nikolai Makarov, 43, worked most of his life in the public prosecutor's office in Saratov and the neighboring region, north of Volgograd.


He entered the spotlight last May, when parliament formed a special committee to investigate corruption charges that Rutskoi had made against top Yeltsin aides.


Although four years his junior, Andrei Makarov is better known because of his role as leading counsel in a 1992 case against the Communist Party. Representing 52 reform-oriented Supreme Soviet legislators, he argued that the Communist Party "had carried on a terror unprecedented in history", and thus was unconstitutional.


The outcome was mixed, but this summer Andrei Makarov again took center stage as chief investigator of the Inter-service Commission on Crime and Corruption, a presidential body set up to gather information on government wrongdoing.


For all their political differences, the two Makarovs agree that corruption is rife across government. Even though they have implicated different officials, they often point in similar directions from which a general hazy picture of wrongdoing in high government circles emerges.


Most prominently, both camps agree that the Foreign Trade Ministry is a swamp of slimy deals.


The army is another place where both camps agree corruption is widespread, particularly among the Russian divisions still stationed in what used to be East Germany.


Amid all the politicized corruption investigators headed by the two Makarovs, there have been one or two who did not march entirely to the tune of either camp - among them Boldyrev and Viktor Barannikov, the former security minister - but such independence brought the same result for both men: unemployment.


On this point the Makarovs are truly twins. Neither has made the mistake of stepping out of line in public.