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[Emperor's Clothes]

On the Arrest of Pavel Borodin

[The following excerpt from a press conference given by Attorney Genrikh Pavlovich Padva includes all text relevant to the Borodin case.]

Official Kremlin Int'l News Broadcast
January 26, 2001, Friday

Moderator: Good day, dear journalists. Our guest today is Genrikh Pavlovich Padva who represents Pavel Borodin's interests. Today we will talk about the latest events in New York. Please, share your opinion with the journalists.

Padva: First of all, I would like to apologize for being late, but I came straight from the courtroom, and you can't leave the courtroom until the hearings are over.

There is nothing consoling in these events for us and for Pavel Pavlovich Borodin. Only one question was considered yesterday or rather today, it was night here -- the release of Borodin from under custody. Our side raised the question of releasing him on bail and guarantees basically from our state, because the guarantees were given by the Russian ambassador to the United States of America.

Hearings lasted several hours, but no release was granted and Borodin remains in custody. I want you to understand one thing. For some reason there have been many media reports saying that the question of his extradition is to be considered. This is not so. The question of extradition will be considered later when the Swiss side provides all the necessary documents. It has 40 days of the date of detention to do so.

The arrest that has taken place, just for you to have a clear idea, was necessary [supposedly] to secure Borodin's appearance for interrogation. It's not the arrest of the accused or even a suspect. It's what is called compulsory process.

The arrest that was effected in America is called conditional arrest because the final decision is made not immediately, but later. So, the question of extradition, I repeat, will be decided when all the necessary documents are provided. We will oppose extradition as such when this question is considered. We will provide a large amount of data and documents to prove that he is not subject to extradition.

What kind of data and documents are these? First of all, these documents will confirm our statement that Pavel Pavlovich has never been officially summoned anywhere. I mean Switzerland. The Swiss lawyer who is working on this with us is one of the leading lawyers in Switzerland. He is a professor and the author of a textbook by which all Swiss lawyers study criminal justice. He has specially checked out and talked with Mr. Deveau to find out whether Pavel Pavlovich had been summoned officially, but then failed to show up. No, nothing like this happened.

It's all the more strange because they are trying to extradite him -- this is an exact translation from English as a fugitive, which he is not. I'd say he was not a circumspect, what shall we call him, hunter -- well, no, a person who thoughtlessly pushed his way under this terrible wheel that was set in motion in Switzerland and that is still spinning. He did not escape from anywhere and he did not hide from anyone. He lived calmly. By the way, he has been abroad before, not in America, but in other countries.

Swiss Reject Voluntary Meeting with Borodin

We will prove that it's strange when the question of coercive extradition is raised if the person never objected to meeting them voluntarily in the first place. Moreover, I am sure you know that our government told Swiss law-enforcement agencies, through the Russian ambassador in Switzerland, that if Switzerland did not insist on extradition, our state and our government would guarantee Pavel Pavlovich Borodin's voluntary appearance.

However, they rejected this proposal, which, in my view, is a clear indication of bias because if they really want him to come to meet them, why extradite him by force? Indeed, in this case they will be able to meet him in many months at best because this is not such a simple procedure and not such a short procedure. If they want just to question him, it is easier to do with our government's guarantees. But unfortunately, they did not agree to this and insist on his extradition.

I think it's some ambitions, of course. Maybe Mr. Deveau bears the grudge for something, perhaps, he thinks that he was not treated respectfully enough. Maybe, at least I've got the impression that these actions were not dictated by the necessity and are connected with some ambitions. I think that's all I can say right now. I am waiting for your questions and I'll try to answer them.

Q: Today's Izvestia published an interview with Bertrand Bertossa in which he said that in addition to money laundering, the participation in some criminal group, excuse me, criminal organization, is incriminated to him. How can you comment on this statement?

Padva: You know, it's hard to comment on all these statements, because we have not seen official charges. They have not presented either to Pavel Pavlovich or his lawyers. We only know that they have been published more or less officially and they are known to his lawyer who has been mentioned to me, lawyer Ponset (sp?) there in France, that is in Switzerland.

Let's begin with money laundering. It's hard to comment because money laundering is understood as various actions involving property and money obtained illegally. But they don't say that -- they don't have proof, but they accuse him of having obtained this money illegally. They hoped all the time and said that this would be proved in Russia and then the transfer of money through Swiss banks would be recognized as money laundering.

However, our thorough investigation -- there are 120 volumes in the Mabetex case which is connected with Pavel Pavlovich Borodin, but his guild has not been proven. Moreover, our investigation came to the conclusion that there is no his guilt in these actions, in contractual relations with Mabetex. So, it's not quite clear what money, the laundering of what money they are talking about.

As to participation in a criminal group I believe they have the following in mind. They have found not one but many different accounts, a dozen, two dozen, opened in the names of citizens of ru and that are being ascribed to Pavel Pavlovich. Since the movement on some accounts coincided or were close, since some could have been from one and the same sources, this and only this gives them any reason to allege that there was some sort of a criminal group that laundered this money.

I repeat that there is no data at all that all this money was gained by criminal ways not only by Pavel Pavlovich but also all the others. Unfortunately, we can comment only on what we know. But we know very little so far because, I repeat, no formal charges have been made anywhere.

What does a charge of participation in a criminal group mean? As you understand, the charge must indicate what sort of a criminal group this was, what it engaged in, what crimes were perpetrated by this group of persons -- murdered, robbed, engaged in extortion, got bribes and so on. This is quite absurd. It is alleged that a group, say, of some 20 totally unrelated persons was accepting bribes or conducted joint theft. But nothing is known about the real charges. The only charge is participation in a criminal group. But this is really absurd. How can one defend oneself against such an allegation? It appears to us that this is quite a groundless allegation.

I believe this is all that I can say about this.

Q: Ekho Moskvy radio.

Did the defense expect the decision taken by the court, or was it a surprise to you?

Padva: It was an expected decision, of course. But the defense did not abandon hope that another decision was possible. It also did its best to prevent the decision that was taken from happening. But you know all the difficulties that we encounter.

What is the situation? As I understand it, although some people are trying to say that this is a purely legal problem... formally, perhaps, it is a primarily legal problem. But what in reality have we come up against? Let us begin with the following. A couple of years ago America became the first country to demand greater transparency from Switzerland, its banks. America insisted that the fight against money laundering should be started. The American Jewish lobby raised the question that after the War, after nazism a tremendous amount of the money of victims of nazism had sedimented in Swiss banks. All this finally forced Switzerland to start doing something and, indeed, Swiss banks have become more open and have started demonstrating accounts, mostly Russian ones.

You know very well what is now happening in the world. You know about the hysteria concerning the so-called Russian Mafia. You know very well about the allegations that Russia is not fighting money laundering and that for this reason Russia should be discriminated. In an election campaign speech Bush said that if elected, he will do everything possible not to give financial assistance to Russia because corruption and bribing is on such a grand scale there that all money winds up in the hands of our high-placed officials. And you know that he even named one of them -- a person as prominent as Chernomyrdin. This is the atmosphere in which Pavel Pavlovich Borodin was arrested.

All this cannot but affect the solution of his case, his fate. Of course, a judge should proceed first and foremost from the law. But I am convinced that no matter how a judge proceeds from the law his ideology determines his understanding and interpretation of the law. Not directly, perhaps, but indirectly.

We do not know how a judge voted, whether he voted for Bush or not. It is possible that he voted for Bush precisely because he said no financial help should be given to our corrupt society. This simply cannot but play a certain role in the solution of concrete questions, concrete cases.

We took all this into account and we knew that we are facing substantial difficulties. Availing myself of the presence here of representatives of different media outlets I would like to say that it really disturbs me that there is a different approach to the fate of our citizens who are under investigation abroad and so on. The mass media is doing its best to protect Gusinsky and right it is. I fully agree with the press. If a person's guilt has not yet been established, if it is not yet really known whether or not a person has committed a crime, I am convinced that there is no need to keep such a person behind bars.

But when we speak about Borodin some media outlets for some reason take already a totally different position as if he were not a citizen of our country, as if his arrest in these circumstances is not a slap in the face for our country. I do not understand this. I would want all the media outlets to keep to a single position, the position of protecting our citizens. By the way, this is a duty of our state. Sometimes I am asked: why is Borodin so defended? Because we should protect our citizens. And it is unfortunate that not all are being defended. This should be done because this is a constitutional duty of our state. It is a duty of our state to defend the interests of our citizens if these interests, if the rights of our citizens are encroached upon abroad. I believe that all this should be taken into account.

As to what has concretely happened, you know everything. I do not know what else is there for me to explain to you. There was a court hearing. The pleas of the defense were heard out for three hours. This appears to be fair. The decision was taken not to release Borodin. But I cannot understand this decision. I do not understand why a person should be kept under guard when there is full confidence and a full guarantee that he will appear in court when summoned and will not disappear. There was this proposal to make him wear the electronic bracelet. You know, it will transmit information if he moves 100 or 150 meters. More than that, our ambassador offered his guarantee. This is unique. I do not know about other precedents. Plus a huge bail. Frankly, I don't know where this sum of 750,000 came from, apparently journalists wanted to raise that much, but the maximum sum that was considered was 250,000. However, mass media talked all the time about 750,000 for some reason. I think they have been biased.

Q: You say different media give different interpretations but he is our fellow citizens and he must be defended. But media say at least something, while Vladimir Putin has distanced himself from this. Do you follow me? What do you think the President's position?

Padva: You know, I don't think the President is duty bound to make statements regarding the arrest of a citizen of his country. The President has not made public statements, he has not called a press conference and he has not made an official statement. But if the Foreign Minister is doing something, I don't think you have any doubts that this is being done with the President's consent.

If our state says, through our ambassadors, that there are no reasons to keep him in custody and that if need be we can guarantee his appearance, this cannot be done without the President's consent. So, I don't think that the President has to make statements on each such case.

The President is associated with our country. He is our guarantor, and I think that if he makes an appeal to some country and that country rejects it, it's a slap to all of us, every citizen of our country because this is our President, because we elected him, even though some may not have voted for him.

This is why I think that the President should be very circumspect in making such statements in order not to lose his political face and, most importantly, avoid useless moves. I think that if there had been clear understanding that the President's statement or appeal would solve everything, he would have made it immediately.

Q: You said that Russia provided guarantees of his appearance to Switzerland, but Switzerland rejected them. Was it done before Borodin's arrest or after?

Padva: I think I made myself quite clear. No official request to Borodin or our government or Prosecutor General's Office regarding his appearance in Switzerland was ever made before his arrest. So, no one could guarantee anything or discuss anything. We gave such guarantees after his arrest.

Q: Speaking juridically, does his arrest violate any law, maybe American or some other?

Padva: Just formally?

Q: Yes.

Padva: No. Who speaks of a breach of law? Neither we nor our government have said that. There is an agreement on extradition between Switzerland and America. It obligates them to help each other in such cases. If one side requests the arrest of a person and his further extradition as provided for in this agreement, they have every right to do so and they must do so.

Q: So, this talk of diplomatic passport -- everything is fine there?

Padva: If he had official immunity, then this would be a different question. But Pavel Pavlovich does not have official immunity. At the same time, arresting a delegate who was basically sent officially on behalf of two countries, on behalf of a union of two countries, on the border is of course an unprecedented fact. I have never seen anything like that before.

Voice: There was no official invitation.

Q: Official? He arrived by regular passport.

Voice: And by fake invitation.

Padva: Wait a minute. Where did you get all this? I am shocked. You say this as if you saw all this with your eyes. The invitation was absolutely genuine and signed by a member of the presidential inauguration committee. I have to tell you that the State Department does not officially invite anyone except ambassadors who are accredited and live there.

In keeping with the generally-accepted practice in America, such invitations are issued by private persons who have direct relation to events. I repeat, it was signed.

I also know, although from media reports and not from official documents, that he allegedly didn't sign it, although we examined his signature. But this is a different question that has not been officially investigated or stated. He received an official document signed, I repeat, by an official because he was a member of two committees. It is more important that he was a member of an inauguration committee. Besides, he was a member of the Bush election sponsorship committee.

Think of what was in this invitation, what is known to us and what is real and not a sham as you want to present it or as you were deceived about. It says that Pavel Pavlovich will be met upon arrival, that a room was booked for him in such and such place, that he will have a personal car, that he will take place in such and such events, absolutely official ones -- dinners, official breakfasts -- to which people are invited according to a list approved by a presidential adviser.

This invitation was brought to the Foreign Ministry by Pavel Pavlovich and it did not evoke any doubts. It and his diplomatic passport were handed over to the US embassy which did not say that it was a private invitation that was invalid. This is why it's totally wrong to say that there was no invitation or that it was a false invitation.

If it were a false invitation, perhaps this may be proved one day as a result of special investigation, and then the one who sent it will be brought to account, but what does Pavel Pavlovich Borodin to do with all this?

As for his regular foreign travel passport, delegates who travel anywhere do not have to bear diplomatic passports. Diplomatic passports are issued only to certain officials. So the fact that he left the country and crossed the border by regular passport does not make him an unofficial person. Indeed, did he stop being the State Secretary of the Union State because of that?

Q: Did he arrive in the US as a private person or as an official?

Padva: What private person? He received an invitation and was sent there by the chairman of the Byelorussia-Russia Union, Mr. Lukashenko. How can he be a private person after this?

Q: But America does not recognize this union, it hasn't recognized it yet, has it? It means nothing to it, do you understand this?

Padva: Well, it does mean something to us. You asked me in what capacity he was sent there.

Q: He could have been sent by the Pope, but what difference does it make?

Padva: What did you say?

Q: You accuse the States of disrespectful treatment. But on the other hand, you say that no law was broken by the arrest.

Padva: That's right, no law was broken because they acted in accordance with their obligations under an agreement with Switzerland. You have to understand that -- I think I make myself clear enough, they were fulfilling their obligations under an agreement with Switzerland. In this sense the law was not violated. It was not violated because Pavel Pavlovich did not have a formal diplomatic immunity. That is why there was no formal violation. I am trying to say something else because you do not appear to understand simple things. What am I saying is that my experience, and I have been working as a defense lawyer for already 50 years, tells me that Borodin was officially sent there on an official invitation. This does not mean that he had immunity. I repeat, there was no formal violation of the law.

But proceeding from my practice, my experience, I do not know of instances when an official delegate of such a high rank was detained immediately at the border. This is all that I wanted to say. Am I clear?

Q: Radio Liberty. You said that there is a different attitude of the press to Gusinsky and Borodin...

Padva: I said not of the entire press but of a certain part of it.

Q: Why does this surprise you? Does it not seem to you that these persons have a different reputation?

Padva: Because people are detained not on the basis of their reputation. And the press should not treat people differently. A citizen of Russia should have equal protection until he is found guilty and sentenced. Unfortunately, you want Borodin to be found guilty and Gusinsky not to be found guilty. As a citizen and a lawyer I want both of them to be regarded as equally innocent until their guilt is proved.

Q: Your accusations against the press are unfounded. It is the task of the press to cover events. This has nothing to do with what we want or do not want to do. You are claiming that we are working for one side, defending one side.

Padva: I am not speaking about you, I do not know who you are working for.

Q: I work for Radio Liberty.

Padva: You are working for somebody just as defense lawyers work for somebody. And you are committed to a no lesser extent than lawyers. But I would want the press to objectively cover events. As to my commitment, it is a natural and official one. I am defending precisely Borodin.

As to you, you have no right to defend somebody just because you feel like it. You must inform people about objective circumstances. Well, objectively, so far neither Borodin or Gusinsky are guilty. And arrest equally should not be applied to them, in any case, in the existing concrete conditions.

I am prepared jointly with Gusinsky's lawyers to defend his interests but I would also want those who rightly and fairly defend Gusinsky to give similar treatment to everybody else. Unfortunately, this is not what some media outlets are doing. I am not referring to the entire press. You know this saying that "Guilty conscience is speaking."

Q: But it is absolutely wrong to blame everything on the press.

Padva: Not on the press but on concrete representatives of the press.

Q: Can you name the person who ... (inaudible) ... from the American side?

Padva: Frankly, I do not remember the name.

Q: What is going to happen now?

Padva: Now Pavel Pavlovich is going to remain in prison. Our country, the state and mostly lawyers, Swiss, American and Russian lawyers, will submit additional data showing that we are right in our opinion that he should not be extradited.

Q: And he is going to be kept in prison for so long?

Padva: Yes. How else?

Q: France Presse. Concerning the charge of belonging to a criminal group. You mentioned two dozen accounts that got money from a single source...

Padva: You are speaking about two dozen accounts while I was speaking about two dozen persons.

Q: Two dozen persons with accounts, right? Am I right in understanding that money to these accounts came from a single source?

Padva: Wrong.

Q: Can you give us the names of these people? If you can't can you at least say if there are any members of the Kremlin administration among them? What has happened with these accounts, have they been frozen?

Padva: There is nothing to particularly conceal here since a lot has already been written in the press, though not always fairly.

There is no doubt at all that one of Borodin's unofficial accusers is a certain Turover. I believe he claimed in one of the newspapers, I believe it was Segodnya, that when Borodin realizes that nobody needs him, that it is the Yeltsin family that is the target, then, supposedly, he will start talking and then there will be full clarity. Of course, everything began not with Borodin. Of course, the prime aim was to prove Yeltsin's guilt. There were certain circles and you know this very well that tried by all sorts of ways to turn our former President Yeltsin from a president into a defendant. All sorts of methods were used ranging from quite legal ones of the type of impeachment to the most illegal ones, attempts to discredit him. And one of these attempts were the allegations that he and his immediate surrounding, his family in the narrow and broad meanings of the word, possessed big dollar accounts in Switzerland. All this was directed against Boris Nikolayevich, directly or indirectly.

You mentioned the mass media. One of the first or actually the first newspapers to write about this was Corriera della Sera. Strange, but this newspaper turned out somehow to be the most informed one. It knew absolutely everything and was the first to raise this question in the press. And it repeatedly returned to this matter trying to persuade the public that all this is true.

When it was established with absolute certainty that Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin did not have and does not have dollar accounts, the accent was shifted to the Family. And there were attempts made to prove that Tatyana Dyachenko has money and so on. All this also ended in nothing. And it was just Pavel Pavlovich Borodin who remained face to face with the Swiss law enforcement machine. This is the soil out of which this case has grown. And since attempts were made to smear the so-called Family and since there were publications by one or two persons, I mentioned one of them to you, the Swiss authorities declared that Borodin is a member of a criminal group without saying what the crime actually was.

You got me wrong that they all had accounts and got money from the same source. I did not say this. I said only that in certain instances, and please quote me correctly, do not ascribe to me things I do not say, well, in some instances the sources crossed one way or another. But this does not mean at all that some criminal group of a strange origin had existed.

If you thing hard and strain your memory, you will remember that accounts may have the same or similar sources. Sometimes somebody hands over something to somebody else but this does not mean at all that this is a criminal group. For instance, somebody owes money and makes a transfer from his account to that of the other person. Does this mean that they are criminals? Absolutely not.

So far Switzerland only has isolated bank transactions which they can interpret as they like. But nobody knows the truth yet.

Q: Mir Novostei. A question to you as a jurist and not as a defense lawyer. A provocative question but my colleagues have also put it. When Borodin was arrested and since there are lots of high-placed foreigners staying in Russia and who have been involved in various scandals, and the FSB and the Foreign Intelligence Service have information about this, why did we just arrest them and look at what the reaction to this was going to be? Could this be done?

And the second moment. Is it possible that this is some byzantine method of our secret services who for some reasons cannot arrest Borodin themselves and decided to do this with the help of others? But this is hardly the Prosecutor General's Office considering Mr. Ustinov's and especially Mr. Kolmogorov's good relations with Mr. Borodin. Do you think this is possible?

Padva: I emphatically reject this even as a conjecture.

Q: And what about my first question?

Padva: My knowledge of the situation tells me that our special services had nothing to do with this concrete arrest. Although I do not regard our special services to be so impeccable and not capable of such things.

Sorry, but what was your first question?

Q: What about an arrest of foreign representatives?

Padva: As you probably remember, Mr. Zhirinovsky said this almost immediately after this happened. I don't favor such actions. I think that if someone acts wrongly, this gives us no right to act wrongly as well.

I remember there was a spy mania during the Cold War: you catch our spy, we will catch ten your spies. Then they catch 20 our spies in response and so on and so forth. Is this a civilized way of building relations with other countries? I think there are other ways to influence other countries to make them respect ours.


[A question from Emperor's Clothes: When has the United States government offered any indication that it responds to the "civilized way of building relations with other countries"?]


Further Reading

Three articles critical of the arrest of Pavel Borodin are:

* 'Borodin Falsely Arrested - Washington's Excuse a Lie' by Jared Israel at

* 'Arrest targets Russian-Belarus Union' by Jared Israel with Statement on the arrest by Michel Chossudovsky, Jared Israel and Nico Varkevisser. Can be read at

* 'New World Ordure' by George Szamuely at

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