Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 78

The vote on Skuratov’s fate was taken yesterday after the Federation Council elected to discuss the issue in a closed session. Skuratov had asked the Federation Council to release him from his duties because he was unable to work “under the current circumstances.” He reportedly did not reveal any sensational details about corruption but insisted that the information about Swiss bank accounts held by Russian officials was not “mythical.” He said further that “several dozen” former and current Russian officials with connections to the Swiss construction firm Mabetex–which won a number of lucrative Russian state construction–have accounts in a bank in Lugano, the Swiss city where Mabetex is headquartered. Skuratov said that the Prosecutor General’s Office also had information which allegedly tied former and current officials in the presidential administration and in other federal agencies to corruption (Segodnya, April 22). Some newspapers have speculated that Swiss federal prosecutor Carla Del Ponte did give Skuratov some information concerning Swiss bank accounts opened by Russian officials, but that Skuratov cannot reveal it because the transfer of the information has not been officially authorized by the Swiss courts (Kommersant, Segodnya, April 21).

Whatever the case, Skuratov looked quite pleased with the results of yesterday’s vote. It meant, he said, that he was “now obligated to obey the decision of the Federation Council” (Russian agencies, April 21). He promised to see the various corruption cases which he had started to the end if given the chance to work independently. Skuratov struck a somewhat defiant pose toward Yeltsin, saying that he would not ask the president for a meeting, adding: “Let the president decide for himself.” Skuratov said that if he is not given the opportunity to work, he will support the idea of the Federation Council setting up a special commission to investigate the major corruption cases launched by the Prosecutor General’s Office. This idea has been backed by such Council members as Kemerovo Governor Aman Tuleev (Russian agencies, April 21).

Pro-Kremlin officials, including Federal Security Service Director Vladimir Putin and Aleksandr Kotenkov, Yeltsin’s representative in the State Duma, stressed that the Federation Council vote did not nullify the president’s decree suspending Skuratov while he was being investigated (NTV, April 21). Correspondingly, Skuratov did not show up today to work at the Prosecutor General’s Office, and his functions continue to be carried out by acting Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika (Russian agencies, April 22). Even some among those clearly in the pro-Skuratov camp, such as journalist Aleksandr Khinshtein, predict that Skuratov will eventually be removed once and for all (Moskovsky komsomolets, April 22).