Corruption charges fly as Yeltsin, rivals battle Panel puts finger on vice president

August 19, 1993|By Newsday

MOSCOW -- An anti-corruption commission established by Russian President Boris N. Yeltsin charged yesterday that one of Mr. Yeltsin's top rivals, Vice President Alexander Rutskoi, had links to a secret Swiss bank account that was used to launder state funds and that another Yeltsin foe, Prosecutor Valentin Stepankov, had discussed murdering a member of the panel.

Panel members said they would ask the country's highest judicial tribunal, the Constitutional Court, to review Mr. Rutskoi's conduct, and demanded that Mr. Stepankov be removed from his post by Parliament.

"How can the public prosecutor's office be headed by a person who allows a possibility of an attempt on the life of a citizen of the Russian Federation?" said commission member Yuri Kalmykov.

The allegations added heat to a struggle between Mr. Yeltsin and his foes in which accusations of corruption have become potent weapons.

In April, Mr. Rutskoi, a former ally turned enemy, charged that Mr. Yeltsin's government was rife with corruption and said he was turning over "suitcases full of documents" substantiating his claims to Mr. Stepankov, the country's chief law enforcement official.

On the basis of that material, Mr. Stepankov's office launched highly public investigations of two close Yeltsin aides, Vladimir Shumeiko and Mikhail Poltaranin.

The material indicated that Mr. Shumeiko, a deputy prime minister, allowed a foreign company to collect $15 million for baby food that was never delivered, presumably in return for a kickback. Mr. Poltaranin, a presidential adviser, was accused of misappropriating a Russian-owned mansion in what used to be East Germany.

No formal charges have been filed in either case, and both officials have dismissed the allegations as politically motivated fabrications.

Yesterday's barrage by a commission of Yeltsin appointees, which came immediately after a meeting with the president, represented a clear attempt by Mr. Yeltsin to regain control of the highly charged corruption issue.

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