problems.rnThe Russian press had a field day withrnBoris Yeltsin’s September 9 conversationrnwith Clinton on the Kremlin hotline.rnThe Kremlin’s walls were gushing withrnleaks: Reportedly, the main topics of conversationrnwere the interconnected BNYrnand Mabetex scandals. Yeltsin and hisrnentourage, the “family,” stand accused ofrnaccepting kickbacks for Kremlin refurbishmentrncontracts from shady KosovornAlbanian Begzhet Paccoli. According tornmedia accounts, Paccoli provided thern”family” with credit cards having a generousrncredit line, which he paid. He alsornset up Swiss accounts for the “family” intornwhich Russian budget funds —andrnIMF funds —were allegedly funneled.rnAccording to Russian newspapers, Clintonrnasked Yeltsin if he had acceptedrnbribes, and Yeltsin reportedly beatrnaround the birch tree, not denying therncharges, but complaining that the wholernscandal was “politically inspired.” W’Tiatrnhe meant was that Washington’s politicalrnallergy to the Clintons was causingrnYeltsin problems. Clinton, according tornNezavisimaya Gazeta’s informants, wasrn”not completely satisfied ” with Yeltsin’srnhalfliearted denials.rnJudging from subsequent events, Clintonrnand Yeltsin probably had a serious —rnand acrimonious—discussion about howtorncounter the rising tide of politicalrnsewage that threatens to drown themrnboth. Clinton had already kicked off therncampaign by having his national securitvrnadvisor, Sandy Berger, downplay die Russianrncorruption stories in the Septemberrn5 Washington Post. In banal bureaucratese,rnBerger admitted that there arern”many problems in Russia today” andrnneedled Yeltsin for vetoing an anti-money-rnlaundering bill passed by the Duma.rnBut he also repeated a claim made byrnMoscow apparatchiks and IMF spokesmen:rn”We have no evidence that IMFrnfunds have been stolen.” Berger calledrnfor Russian cooperaHon in invesdgatingrnthe BNY scandal, something Yeltsinrnpledged four days later during his talkrnwith Clinton. The very next day,rnSeptember 10, Yeltsin gave his law enforcementrnchiefs a serious tongue-lashing,rntelling them he was shocked,rnshocked, that they had not followedrnthrough with Russian pledges to join thernInternational Commission Against MoneyrnLaundering. Yeltsin demanded thatrnthe Duma pass enabling legislation sanctioningrnRussian participation in the EuropeanrnConventions on Extradition andrnMutual Legal Assistance. Furthermore,rnYeltsin ordered a team of Russian securityrnpersonnel to fly to Washington to facilitaternthe American investigation of thernBNY scandal, preferably before the kickoffrnof congressional hearings set for laternSeptember, which roughly coincidedrn(coincidentally, no doubt) with the annualrnmeetings of the IMF’ and the WorldrnBank. Russian Central Bank (RCB)rnChairman Viktor Gerashchenko andrnRussian Finance Ministrv officials wouldrnalso be on hand to negotiate the releasernof the next $640 million “tranche” of thernIMF “stabilization credit” to Russia,rnwhich they hoped to get by October 10.rnIt looks like the plan for covering thernpolitical hindquarters of the Clinton administrationrnand the Kremlin “family”rngoes something like this: first, continuerndenying that any IMF funds were “diverted”rnand have Price Waterhouse Coopersrnaudit the RCB. (Of course, the RCB’srnbooks are cooked to well done, as anybodyrnwho has followed reporting onrnquestionable RCB economic data couldrnsurmise; Russian and European mediarnhave often claimed that official RCB figuresrnfor currencv and gold reserves—figuresrnused by creditors to help determinernRussian creditworthiness —are entirelyrnfictional, and the RCB itself has admittedrnit used its reserves to speculate on the collapsernof the ruble in August 1998. Thernprofits were funneled offshore via RCBrnaffiliates.) Next, demand quarterly reportsrnfrom the RCB on its financial state;rnof course, the Russians will protest a bitrnover this intrusion. (Gerashchenko hasrncalled the demands for quarterly reportsrn”nonsense.”) Then, after delaying the releasernof the “tranche” —now postponedrnuntil at least October 20 —in a show ofrnWashington’s tough love for Moscow,rnsend it along in due time. In the meantime,rnsend a delegation of Russian Dumarndeputies to take part in the Capitol Hillrnshow trial orchestrated by House BankingrnCommittee Chairman Jim Leach (RlA),rnwhile the IMF and World Bankrnspokesmen keep repeating how importantrnit is to remain “engaged” withrnMoscow. Former Treasury SecretaryrnRobert Rubin and his successor, LawrencernSummers, the IMF’s MichelrnCamdessu, and the World Bank’s JamesrnWolfensohn have all stressed this lastrnpoint. Camdessu hailed Russian reformsrnand economic progress (!) and stated thatrnthe IMF’s next “tranche” would shortiyrnbe approved, while Wolfensohn characterizedrnthe reporting on the Kremlinrnscandals as “hysterical.”rnFor all that, the Clinton and Yeltsinrnsham “investigation” has faltered, the victimrnof carefully timed leaks from Swiss,rnRussian, and American law enforcementrnand securih’ agencies. As October begins,rnRussian, American, and Europeanrnmedia have reported that Russian investigators,rnconfronted with “irrefutable” evidencernof Russian money laundering (includingrnevidence of RCB involvement inrnthe possible “diversion” of IMF funds),rnrefused to hand over materials requestedrnby the Americans to facilitate the investigation.rnSwiss investigators have frozenrnthe accounts of numerous Russians —includingrntens of millions of dollars in accountsrnheld by Yeltsin’s Rasputin, “financier”rnBoris Berezovsky—who may bernconnected to the Russian mafia’s moneylaunderingrnoperations, which could includernIMF funds as well as money madernthrough the drug trade, prostitution, andrnother illicit activities. The Italian paperrnCoirieire della Sera, which has taken thernlead in exposing the Kremlin’s Mabetexrnconnection, reported that Swiss investigatorsrncomplain of Moscow’s attempts tornblock their in’estigation, which reportedlyrnhas linked alleged Mabetex and RCBrnmoney laundering to the BNY. TatyanarnDyachenko, Yeltsin’s daughter and dernfacto chief of staff, has been tied to thernBNY scandal via her husband, who has arnhefty account in an offshore BNY affiliate.rnThe litany of leaks appears to underminernthe Clinton-Yeltsin effort to whitewashrnthe scandal; what comes next is anybody’srnguess. But we poor taxpayers,rnsuffering from an overdose of Clinton/rnYeltsin fatigue, will probably not see anyrnserious effort bv cither the Washington orrnMoscow “party of power” to question,rnmuch less halt, the dubious IMFAVorldrnBank gravy train. The game will likely gornon.rnSergey Berdyaev is a journalist who coversrnthe former Soviet Union.rnWh en in RockfordrnEat atrnLee’s Chinese Restaurantrn3443 N. Main Streetrn48/CHRONlCLESrnrnrn