Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 67

Against the backdrop of the orders to arrest Boris Berezovsky and Aleksandr Smolensky, Yuri Skuratov, who was last week suspended as Russia’s prosecutor general, spoke today before the State Duma. Skuratov, who last week also became the target of a criminal investigation into alleged abuse of office, said that only the Federation Council has the authority to suspend the prosecutor general or relieve him of his duties completely. Skuratov said Yeltsin’s decree suspending him had violated Russia’s constitution (Russian agencies, April 7).

In an interview with the Interfax news agency today prior to his Duma appearance, Skuratov warned that if he became the object of “outrageous” scrutiny, he would bring out the “heavy artillery”–meaning information he had received from the Swiss authorities about illegal deals made by a number of high-ranking Russian officials.

Skuratov said that while he did have a list of names and bank accounts, he would not name names today in speaking to the Duma. He warned his ill-wishers not to try to “foil” his speech or “stage provocations,” saying that any attempts to “blackmail” or “pressure” him would fail. Skuratov said repeatedly that his life was probably in danger (Russian agencies, Moskovsky komsomolets, April 7).

Media reported yesterday and today that Skuratov had handed in his resignation a second time–in writing–during a meeting last month with Yeltsin. Skuratov himself, however, now denies that he asked to step down, even though facsimiles of his letter were published in several newspapers today. Skuratov said that he had not meant that he wanted to step down and that, in any case, he had been pressured to sign the letter during his meeting with Yeltsin. Skuratov said today that he is ready to continue as prosecutor and that only the Federation Council, not the president, had the right to suspend him (Russian agencies, April 7).

Given his erratic behavior since first asking to step down in early February, it is likely that the Federation Council, which had previously voted against his resignation, will support it this time. In addition, Primakov, during a meeting with Yeltsin yesterday, came out himself for Skuratov’s definitive removal (Russian agencies, April 6).