Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 34

The Federation Council yesterday postponed its scheduled debate on the resignation of Yuri Skuratov as Russia’s prosecutor general. According to Russia’s constitution, the council–the parliament’s upper chamber–must rule on President Boris Yeltsin’s decision to accept Skuratov’s decision, who stepped down earlier this month after complaining of heart problems. According to Federation Council rules, Skuratov is required to appear before the council while it considers his resignation. Sergei Sobyanin, chairman of the Federation Council’s committee for legislation and judicial and legal issues, reported yesterday that he had talked to Skuratov, who said he could not attend yesterday’s session because of ill health. Federation Council speaker Yegor Stroev said that he had told Skuratov that he could either come in person later or write a letter “explaining the reasons for his resignation” (Russian agencies, February 17).

On February 2, the day of his resignation, Skuratov reportedly checked into the elite Central Clinical Hospital complaining of heart problems. Several newspapers, however, have quoted hospital officials saying that they know of no patient named Skuratov. The waters have been further muddied by Oleg Sysuev, first deputy chief of the presidential administration, who said yesterday that Skuratov had stepped down as prosecutor general because he was unable to handle the work load (Russian agencies, February 17).

While Yuri Yarov, Yeltsin’s representative to the Federation Council, said yesterday that “no pressure” had been put on Skuratov to resign, most observers believe Skuratov was forced to step down for political reasons. “Versions” range from his role in the battle between Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov and CIS Executive Secretary Boris Berezovsky to the Prosecutor General Office’s investigation into the Central Bank on the assertion that Skuratov knew too much about high-level corruption. “Moskovskie vedomosti” this week quoted an anonymous investigator in the Prosecutor General’s Office as saying that Skuratov was “truly scared by Primakov’s large-scale anticrime plans and simply wanted to remove himself from the process,” and that there was compromising information against Skuratov himself. The paper reported that acting Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika, Interior Minister Sergei Stepashin and Viktor Ilyukhin, the radical Communist who heads the State Duma’s security committee, are all angling to succeed Skuratov (Moskovskie vedomosti, February 16-22).