Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 121

Russia’s Supreme Court yesterday found that the criminal investigation of Yuri Skuratov, who was suspended from his duties as Russia’s prosecutor general earlier this year, is legal and may proceed. In early April, a Moscow city deputy prosecutor launched a criminal investigation of Skuratov for alleged abuses of office, but had done so, according to a later Moscow City Court ruling, illegally. The Main Military Prosecutor’s office subsequently appealed the Moscow City Court’s decision to the Supreme Court, and the latter yesterday ruled that the investigation may continue (Russian agencies, June 22).

Skuratov is accused, among other things, of consorting with women of ill repute: A fragment of a video said to be of Skuratov with two call girls was shown earlier this year on RTR state television. According to “versions” published in the Russian press, the film was shot at the apartment of a banker being investigated by Skuratov’s office for financial machinations involving state funds. Some media claim that the security service for National Reserve Bank (NRB) was involved in filming Skuratov. NRB’s head, Aleksandr Lebedev, has subsequently become a top official in Russia is Our Home, the political bloc headed by former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. Lebedev has also been mentioned by some media as a possible replacement for Viktor Gerashchenko, the head of Russia’s Central Bank, with whom members of President Boris Yeltsin’s inner circle are reportedly unhappy.

Skuratov called the Supreme Court’s decision to give a green light to the investigation into him “biased and unjust,” but still refused to say whether he was the man featured in the infamous video, calling the question “a gross violation of privacy” (Russian agencies, June 22).

The Supreme Court decision is undoubtedly part of the Kremlin’s ongoing campaign to have Skuratov removed from his post once and for all. It needs, however, the approval of the Federation Council, the upper chamber of parliament, and the Council has already several times voted to keep Skuratov in office. The video allegedly featuring Skuratov and the criminal case against him made their appearance at a time when Skuratov was directing criminal investigations into companies said to be part of Boris Berezovsky’s business empire, allegedly corrupt links between the Kremlin property management department and the Swiss construction firm Mabetex, and alleged money-laundering and other violations by top Central Bank and other officials connected with last August’s financial collapse.