Vital Signs

Banking on Boris—Part II

The news for both the "Father of Russian Democracy" and his "friend Bill" was equally bad in the second week of September. A wave of bombings had killed some 300 Russians, murdered by an elusive terrorist gang as they slept in their beds (with some people pointing an accusing finger at the Kremlin; see "Banking on Boris" in the December 1999 Chronicles). The war against Islamic militants in the North Caucasus was dragging on, and the Swiss investigation into the Mabetex scandal was uncovering evidence of links with the Bank of New- York (BNY) money-laundering scandal. Meanwhile, back in Washington, Congress was preparing for hearings on the BNY case, which President Clinton's opponents are sure to use as a pretext for an embarrassing "Who lost Russia?" political bash, while Clinton's anointed successor, Al Gore, was in deep trouble, with polls showing presidential wannabes George W. Bush and Bill Bradley both thumping him. Thus, the two beleaguered presidents had occasion to talk over their misfortunes and, perhaps, engage in the blame game, both seeing the other as the source of his own domestic problems.

The Russian press had a field day with Boris Yeltsin's September 9 conversation with Clinton on the Kremlin hotline. The Kremlin's walls were gushing with...

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