Pavel Borodin goes to Switzerland. Voluntarily

A New York court has ruled to meet a request filed by Pavel Borodin, the Russian-Belarussian Union’s secretary of state. The high-ranking official has finally agreed to be voluntarily extradited to Switzerland where he is wanted for alleged laundering multimillion-dollar kickbacks. ''I have nothing to be afraid of, nothing to fear and I am certain the Swiss court will acquit me,'' Mr. Borodin told a U.S. magistrate Monday. Now, he is expected to be flown to Switzerland within 2-7 days. Mr. Borodin’s unexpected statement has made much noise. To a large extent, this move may be regarded as an act of despair. Having realized it was impossible to gain a political solution for his case, he first tried to stake on medicine. However, his diabetes pains did not impress the Americans, and his “infarction” did not come off. As for a “rare form of cancer,” he may not have had enough time to develop it. So, it was only left for him to surrender to the Swiss authorities. Such a handsome gesture is sure to be put to his credit. And, after all, he must be bored of eternally playing chess and basketball in an American jail. Mr. Borodin, 54, is suspected of receiving about $30 million in kickbacks from Swiss companies that had contracts to renovate Kremlin buildings. Russian prosecutors last year closed their investigation into alleged corruption, saying Swiss authorities failed to provide evidence. But Switzerland kept the case open and issued an international warrant for Mr. Borodin. Swiss prosecutors have said their Russian counterparts were sluggish in pursuing corruption investigations against highly placed officials, while energetically prosecuting Kremlin opponents. Mr. Borodin was arrested January 17th at Kennedy Airport while travelling to Washington to celebrate President Bush's inauguration. Last month, a judge rejected Mr. Borodin's bid to be released on bail, leaving him facing the prospect of battling extradition from behind bars, possibly for months. Mr. Borodin - who holds the largely ceremonial post as secretary of the Russia-Belarus Union - had managed the Kremlin property administration as a member of former President Boris Yeltsin's inner circle. President Vladimir Putin, amid a crackdown on corruption, dismissed him from the Kremlin post in 1999. In Moscow, hundreds of people gathered outside the U.S. Embassy to protest Borodin's incarceration. Supporters also rode a train from the Siberian city of Irkutsk to Moscow - nearly 3,000 miles - to collect signatures on a petition calling for his release.

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