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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Borodin Thanks 'Real Man' Putin

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Pavel Borodin arrived back in Moscow in time for Easter and at the first opportunity he thanked President Vladimir Putin for helping to bring him home.

The Russian government posted bail of $3 million Thursday to allow Borodin to leave Switzerland, which has accused the former Kremlin property manager of receiving more than $25 million in kickbacks from Swiss construction companies.

After almost three months in jail in the United States and almost a week after his extradition to Switzerland, Borodin flew into Sheremetyevo Airport on Friday night. Holding his adopted daughter's hand, he descended from the VIP lounge to the departure lounge to face a mix of journalists, supporters, OMON special forces troops and curious travelers waiting for their flights.

Borodin paused in front of the press unblinkingly and spoke ponderously. "I am immeasurably grateful to Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin for his help, for his decency, for being a real man, a citizen, the president."

Click here to read our special report on the case against Borodin.

He also thanked Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko, Patriarch Alexy II of the Russian Orthodox Church and others for their support.

Putin, whom Borodin brought to the Kremlin from St. Petersburg in 1996, has not commented publicly on the case against Borodin or Borodin's arrest in New York on the Swiss warrant. Since becoming president, Putin has distanced himself from Borodin.

The Swiss paper Le Temps, citing a source close to the Federal Security Service, reported last Wednesday that Borodin had one of his Russian lawyers, Genrikh Padva, deliver a message to the Kremlin threatening to disclose compromising materials on the Russian government, and Putin in particular, if he were not granted protection. Padva denied the report the following day.

At the airport, Borodin refused to answer questions put to him by reporters. His short speech ended, "I am a worthy citizen of the Russian Federation … and I am willing to work for the greatness of the country."

If Borodin fails to return to Switzerland if summoned for questioning in the case, the 5 million francs ($3 million) Russia put up as bail will be forfeited to the state of Geneva.

Geneva state prosecutor Bernard Bertossa said he was not optimistic Borodin would show up, but said it was up to the Russian people to protest.

"If the Russian people accept that their bureaucrats allow persons to run around free who put what comes into their fingers into their own pockets, what can I do? People there must protest," Bertossa said in an interview published Saturday in the newspaper Tages-Anzeiger, Reuters reported from Zurich.

Eleanora Sergeyeva, another of Borodin's lawyers, was shown on ORT saying that he would return, but might not answer questions. Borodin was questioned for the first time by Swiss investigating magistrate Daniel Devaud following the bail hearing Thursday.

Reactions to the government's posting bail were mixed. Nikolai Kharitonov, leader of the Agrarians in the State Duma, said the government did what was right.

"He is not only a citizen of Russia, he is the secretary of the Russia-Belarus union," Kharitonov was quoted by Komsomolskaya Pravda as saying. "The government considers him to be innocent and, therefore, provided the money with such certainty, knowing that it won't go to waste."

A veteran U.S. diplomat who previously served in Moscow said he could think of no comparable situation, but "the U.S. government would probably raise bail for a citizen if the imprisonment appeared truly unfair."

After a two-year investigation, the Prosecutor General's Office dropped its investigation into Borodin last December.

Bertossa, however, vowed not to drop the case. He said Swiss investigators had "so much information into suspicious operations that there is no turning back."