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Borodin gives Putin dilemma

Pavel Borodin

The arrest in New York of the Kremlin's top property manager Pavel Borodin, on a Swiss warrant issued almost a year ago, leaves president Vladimir Putin with a tough choice. Is he willing to sacrifice one of his own for the sake of Russia's reputation?

Borodin caught Boris Yeltsin's eye through his adroit administration and Siberian dumplings and Yeltsin gave him control of the government's $650 billion property portfolio.

He rebuilt the Russian White House after Yeltsin unleashed tanks on it in the fracas with communist hardliners and restored Kremlin palaces, churches, and Yeltsin's residence to their tsarist splendour.

But at the end of Yeltsin's term he was caught up in a corruption scandal. Swiss companies Mabetex and Mercata Trading were accused of paying kickbacks, some allegedly to Yeltsin allies. Bernard Bertossa, Geneva's chief prosecutor, says Borodin is wanted for involvement in laundering $25 million.

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