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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Swiss Offer Borodin No Relief

Swiss prosecutors dealt a setback to former Kremlin aide Pavel Borodin on Tuesday by refusing to withdraw the warrant that led to his arrest in New York.

Borodin’s lawyers pledged to fight "on all fronts" for his release from a New York jail cell, where he has been held since last week. Extra moral support came from Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko and Unity party leader Boris Gryzlov.

But Sergei Ivanov, a senior security aide to President Vladimir Putin, said it was up to the U.S. courts to resolve Borodin’s fate, Itar-Tass reported.

Putin himself maintained his silence on the subject and his press service declined to comment.

Geneva prosecutor Bernard Bertossa dashed Borodin’s hopes of a quick release by rejecting Russia’s suggestion he withdraw the warrant if Borodin agreed to be questioned on money laundering.

"If there is no arrest warrant and no extradition request for Mr Borodin, then he is free to do as he wants. The Russian authorities have no legal means to force him to come to Geneva. For this reason we cannot accept the proposal," Bertossa said.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko declined to comment on reports Moscow had already asked Geneva authorities to drop the extradition moves.

Swiss investigators suspect Borodin, the former head of the Kremlin’s property empire, and other officials of accepting bribes from two Swiss-based construction firms in return for awarding them lucrative contracts. Borodin and the firms, Mabetex and Mercata, deny wrongdoing.

One of Borodin’s lawyers, Alex Fishkin, said he and others were using every type of diplomatic and legal pressure to get Borodin freed at a court hearing Thursday. He noted that the Russian Foreign Ministry and Russian ambassador in the United States had become involved.

Bertossa, in an interview at the Geneva courthouse, said he hoped that Borodin could be extradited quickly. According to Bertossa, "commissions" or kickbacks totalling $60 million were allegedly funneled through offshore accounts in the Channel Island of Guernsey and other islands to shell companies.

"The sums involved in this affair, commissions paid back by Swiss companies, are along the lines of $60 million. But the sums which entered the sphere of Mr. Borodin, according to documents in our possession, represent about $25 million," he said.

Borodin is executive secretary of the Russian-Belarussian union. Lukashenko said after arriving in Moscow on Tuesday that he continued to defend the former Kremlin aide.

"Borodin is a civil servant of our union and I, as chairman, as head of a senior state council, am duty-bound to support this man, duty-bound," Lukashenko said in televised remarks.

At the same time, Lukashenko said he would not oppose Moscow if it wanted to replace Borodin,

Gryzlov said Putin backed Borodin. "I am sure the president will do everything possible for his release," he told a news conference.