Allegations by credible sources have claimed that Sonia Gandhi received KGB money. These allegations were reproduced in a section of the Indian mainstream media. Sonia Gandhi was urged to rebut the charges to protect her own reputation. The Congress party and Sonia Gandhi maintained a discreet silence. Should silence be considered assent?
Dr. Yevgenia Albats is a Soviet journalist who officially investigated the KGB when the communist regime was still in control. She was a member of the official KGB Commission set up by President Yeltsin in 1991. She had full access to secret files of the KGB. She authored a book, The State within a State: KGB and Its Hold on Russia. In 1989, she had received the Golden Pen Award, the highest journalism honor in the then-Soviet Union. She was a fellow of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University in 1993 and earned a doctorate from Harvard.
After translating official KGB documents Dr. Albats disclosed in her book that KGB chief Victor Chebrikov in December 1985 had sought in writing from the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), “authorization to make payments in US dollars to the family members of Mr. Rajiv Gandhi, namely Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Ms Paola Maino, mother of Sonia Gandhi.” CPSU payments were authorized by a resolution, CPSU/CC/No 11228/3 dated 20/12/1985; and endorsed by the USSR Council of Ministers in Directive No 2633/Rs dated 20/12/1985. These payments had been coming since 1971, as payments received by Sonia Gandhi’s family and “have been audited in CPSU/CC resolution No 11187/22 OP dated 10/12/1984.”
In 1992 the media confronted the Russian government with the Albats disclosure. The Russian government confirmed the veracity of the disclosure and defended it as necessary for “Soviet ideological interest”. The Hindu of July 4, 1992 carried this report. Noted lawyer AG Noorani included this information in an article published in The Statesman of January 31, 1998.
In November 1991 the respected Swiss magazine, Schweitzer Illustrate, published a report alleging that Rajiv Gandhi had 2.5 billion Swiss francs, equivalent roughly to two billion US dollars, in numbered Swiss bank accounts. Such allegations would easily have been dismissible as scurrilous had there not been the Albats disclosure. Surely Mrs. Sonia Gandhi owes herself and the nation an emphatic and effective rebuttal of the Albats charges?
If the Albats disclosure is authentic it raises two puzzling questions. First, why was money paid to Sonia’s mother? She is not strictly part of Rajiv’s family. Secondly, why were the payments made from 1971 when Indira Gandhi was alive, when Bangladesh was being liberated, and the Indo-Soviet Treaty was signed? If the Albats allegation is false it is the duty of the Indian government to swiftly and sternly rebut it.