Al Gore   Letter 3   25-Aug-2000   Did you ruin Russia and Ukraine?
"And I confess deep concern that the policies pursued by the president and Mr. Gore, through the so-called Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission, may have abetted corruption in Russia." Jesse Helms

August 25, 2000

Al Gore, Vice President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Al Gore:

I bring to your attention the following excerpt from a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing chaired by Senator Jesse Helms:

Unofficial Transcript: Senate Hearing on Corruption in Russia Sept. 23
(Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott testifies) (9,970)



SEN.  HELMS:  (Raps gavel.)  [...]  The subject of today's hearing, as is well known, [...] is corruption in Russia and recent revelations about the diversion of billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars into the pockets of corrupt Russian officials.  Now, the committee's purpose is to examine if the Clinton-Gore administration contributed to this problem and, if so, how so.  And also, whether the administration was aware of this corruption but chose to ignore it.  [...]

We are here to discuss how the administration managed, or mismanaged, the United States relationship with the Russian government, and specifically what happened to the $5.2 billion in grants and $12.8 billion in loans that were entrusted to the United States government by the American taxpayers to support our Russian policies.  Now the administration's defenders have argued that yes, the United States aid was stolen, but they say that was a small price to pay for the nuclear stability our assistance had bought.  Now, these defenders and their logic, it seems to me I may learn differently today these defenders lean on a weak reed, to say the least.  The aid program for deconstructing and preventing the proliferation of Russian nuclear weapons accounts for a mere 8 percent of the total U.S. assistance to Russia.  And our purpose today is to try to determine what happened to the rest of that money which was supposed to facilitate Russian reform.  And I confess deep concern that the policies pursued by the president and Mr. Gore, through the so-called Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission, may have abetted corruption in Russia.  It has been widely reported that in 1995, the CIA sent a memorandum to the vice president discussing corruption in the Russian government and warning that foreign aid funds were being diverted into the pockets of Russian officials.  And the vice president is said to have sent the memo back with a scatological epithet scrawled across it.  Emblematic of the administration's policy, he apparently did not want to know.  And just last week, the Washington Post reported that the first lady's two brothers were involved in a nut-growing venture with a crooked Georgian warlord, whose goal is to overthrow our friend and ally, President Eduard Shevardnadze.  Worse still, the Rodham brothers' partner in this venture was a man named Grigory Loutchansky, and we'll hear about him later today, a known organized-crime figure involved in the smuggling of nuclear materials.

Now, the question is inevitable: Why would the Rodhams do business with a thug like Loutchansky?  A better question, I guess, is why wouldn't they?  After all, Loutchansky was invited to attend a 1995 fundraiser you know where, and he had his picture with the president in 1993.  And I guess that's the one over there.  Loutchansky was invited to that fundraiser the same year the president went to Moscow and called for, quote, "an all-out battle to create a market based on law, and not lawlessness."  In uttering that worthy phrase, while simultaneously consorting with a corrupt figure like Loutchansky, surely it sends the wrong signal to President Yeltsin and Russian leaders of today.  Now then, how can the United States ask Russian government officials not to consort with such criminals at home, when our own president and vice president appear to have done so?  And I hope our witnesses today will address why the administration has failed to make a priority out of ending the theft of U.S. aid and for excising corruption from the highest levels of the Russian government.  [...]  By not pressuring Russia's leaders to expunge corruption, the United States has led the Russian people to lose faith in market economies and democracy.  It is patently dishonest to suggest that the only policy choice is between forsaking engagement and giving Russian "kleptocrats" a carte blanche to pick the American taxpayers' wallets.  It is my hope that this hearing and one next week will provide new thinking about the ways the United States can help the Russian people get rid of irresponsible leaders who are stealing from Russia and from them.


The original of the document of which only a portion is reproduced above can be found on the United States Information Service web site for Romania.

Grigory Loutchansky (also spelled Luchansky) is a fomer KGB officer who has been implicated in not only the smuggling of nuclear materials mentioned by Jesse Helms above, but also prostitution, narcotics, money laundering, racketeering, influence peddling, and fixing privatization auctions.  Luchansky is closely associated with Leonid Borisovich Wolf, a member of a criminal group suspected of carrying out contract killings in the Odessa, Kyiv, and Dnipropetrovsk regions.  An April 1997 Time magazine article identified Luchansky as "the most pernicious unindicted criminal in the world."

A public impression that I invite you to address is that your direct and indirect association with leading underworld figures, and your misdirecting Former Soviet Union aid to gangsters these two things alone disqualify you from any position of leadership, let alone the presidency of the United States.  Unless you are able to clear your name of the suspicions that attach to it, some will not only continue to view you with distrust, they will fear you as a threat to the security of the United States.

Lubomyr Prytulak