A smiling Yakubovsky is led to his cell. It is not clear when he will stand trial. (Large jpg - 51K)

Yakubovsky's playboy lifestyle

By Linda Jones

The dramatic saga of a respected Moscow lawyer linked to a $700 million antique heist has taken a new twist as details come to light of his champagne lifestyle abroad.

Dmitri Yakubovsky -- the alleged mastermind behind the theft of 89 priceless manuscripts from St Petersburg's National Library -- has been held at Kresty Prison since February.

The baby-faced suspect is revered by many Russians for the role he played in exposing a corruption scandal which led to the toppling of several government ministers and sent shockwaves throughout the former USSR.

But his double life has been chronicled in newspapers in Russia and Canada. Reports by Toronto Sun journalists Alan Cairns and Tom Godfrey give a fascinating insight into the way of life Yakubovsky has grown used to ever since marrying a Canadian socialite.

In just two years, Yakubovsky's family bought four Toronto-area homes worth $7 million and bought or leased a stable of cars worth $1 million.

He and his beautiful wife, Marina Krasner, reveled in a lavish and opulent lifestyle that's normally the preserve of old money and movie stars.

In September 1993 his claims had President Boris Yeltsin on the ropes.

His accusations were largely responsible for Yeltsin firing three ministers and suspending both a hardline communist opponent, vice president Alexander Rutskoi, and a close ally, deputy prime minister Vladimir Shumeiko.

The Russian press has detailed Yakubovsky's humble beginnings; the law degree he obtained through correspondence courses; his meteoric rise from lawyer to legal negotiator, to army lieutenant, then major, then colonel, to special agent with presidential powers.

They've noted that he occupied a summer home next to Yeltsin and was friends with both Yeltsin, Shumeiko and other key leaders.

In various interviews he has told reporters his family had money in Russia; his wife is a model and made lots of money; his brother, Stanislav, has money; he makes money himself as a consultant to Canadian firms wishing to do business in Moscow.

But according to the Canadian reports how ever Yakubovsky got his wealth, it doesn't appear to come from his wife.

The Toronto Sun told how Marina Krasner's father was employed at a sewing machine company. And it said acquaintances described her family as comfortable, but never rich.

Sources said Yakubovsky spent thousands of dollars on tailored suits and his wife mirrors his taste, wearing expensive clothes, accessories and jewelry.

In the summer of 1993 the couple spent tens of thousands of dollars on two huge parties: a formal affair for his 30th birthday and a gala with 200 guests for his daughter's first birthday.

At the baby party, party-goers were treated to a live orchestra and were given designer match holders embroidered with his daughter's name.

He reportedly flew a famous Russian singer in from Los Angeles or New York. "There was food, drinks ... God, booze, a river of booze, vodka by the gallon,'' recalls one invitee. "Valets taking people's cars.... a card on the dashboard saying thank you for coming."