Fraud allegations flung at Rutskoi

MOSCOW - Russia's Justice Minister, newly appointed by the President, yesterday made allegations of embezzlement against Boris Yeltsin's deputy-turned-rival, Alexander Rutskoi. The minister, Yuri Kalmykov, called for the sacking of the country's Prosecutor-General, Valentine Stepankov, on the grounds that he had failed to combat crime, writes Helen Womack.

Accusations of corruption are routinely traded among Russia's warring politicians and so it is hard to know how much credence to give Mr Kalmykov's allegations, made after a meeting of Mr Yeltsin's Interdepartmental Commission for Fighting Crime and Corruption. 'The commission has decided to request that the Constitutional Court consider the behaviour of Vice-President Rutskoi,' Mr Kalmykov said. 'There is an account in a Swiss bank to which he has links. Money was put into this account, large sums of state money by some companies in the Russian federation.'

For his part Mr Rutskoi, openly opposing his leader and former political teammate, has claimed he has 'suitcases' full of evidence of corruption by members of Mr Yeltsin's entourage. One of these is the Deputy Prime Minister, Vladimir Shumeiko, accused by the hardline parliament of stealing pounds 10m from the state budget. But a lawyer, Andre Makarov, said at least part of this money had returned to Russia in the form of baby food.

As well as attacking Mr Rutskoi, the Justice Minister had harsh things to say about Mr Stepankov. 'Our assumption is that the prosecutor-general's office is responsible for a complete failure in the struggle against crime,' he said, adding that henceforth the Moscow, rather than the national, prosecutor should be entrusted with investigating government corruption.

Later, Mr Rutskoi called the members of the anti-corruption commission 'rascals'.

Media's fortunes, page 32

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