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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

The Complex Battle Against Corruption

Pavel Borodin, secretary of the Russia-Belarus Union, is sitting in a New York jail, facing possible extradition to Switzerland. With the notable exception of President Vladimir Putin Ч who has the habit of maintaining silence about any arrests Ч the whole nation has reacted with outrage to this event. One businessman I know captured the mood perfectly when he told me, "Well, theyТve found a fine person to arrest! Others donТt do anything but steal, while Borodin at least built something!"

It looks like they got Borodin just as he was hitting his stride. The former Kremlin property chief continued to show a healthy interest in architecture. His latest project was the proposed federal parliament complex in St. Petersburg, which carries a projected price tag of $2 billion. Not so much, but itТs worth noting that this is about two-thirds of the amount that Russia presently is trying to avoid paying out to the Paris Club. Ironically, the parliament complex was to be built not by the Swiss company Mabetex, but by AmericaТs Cushman & Wakefield.

This connection encourages speculation that Borodin traveled to America not, as was reported, to attend the inauguration of President George W. Bush, but to tend to his own business. Otherwise, it seems likely that someone would have told him that BushТs inauguration would be held in Washington, not New York.

It isnТt right when foreigners decide which Russians are corrupt and which arenТt.There is no need to comment on why Borodin was arrested. The financial irregularities surrounding the reconstruction of the Kremlin have been well-documented and only the Russian Prosecutor GeneralТs Office Ч which is working day and night on the Gusinsky case Ч seems to doubt them.

Nonetheless, I find myself sharing my compatriotsТ outrage. As Pushkin put it, "Of course I despise my fatherland from head to toe, but it upsets me when foreigners share this sentiment."

It isnТt right when foreigners decide which Russians are corrupt and which arenТt. It is still worse when the person deciding is someone like Swiss investigating judge Daniel Devaud, a man of known leftist leanings. As Russian television commentator Mikhail Leontiev wryly observer, Devaud is sparing no effort in the struggle against Russian capitalism. DevaudТs battle has found support in the global financial community, which for some reason suspects there is some direct connection between the huge profits Mabetex received and RussiaТs refusal to pay its debts.

Of course, if foreigners think the arrest of two or three bribe-takers is going to put an end to corruption in Russia, they are sadly mistaken. I imagine that if we took half of all our bureaucrats out tomorrow and shot them, the other half would just work twice as hard to take up the slack.

Incidentally, Devaud has no legal proof that Borodin is guilty of anything. Most likely this is indicative not of BorodinТs clean hands, but of the ineffectiveness of any prosecutor Ч even SwitzerlandТs. Even the arrest order says that Borodin is being detained not as a suspect, but as a witness. It notes that he has repeatedly refused to appear and testify.

If you look at the case that has been prepared so far, it is far from clear what crimes Devaud thinks Borodin may have committed. He needs Borodin to come and tell him what he should be arrested for. And judging from what IТve heard, Russian prosecutors are using just the same approach in their questioning of employees and managers of Media-MOST.

Yulia Latynina is the creator and host of "The Ruble Zone" on NTV television.