Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 32

Yuri Skuratov stepped down as prosecutor general on February 2, the day after he sent his letter to the parliament concerning FIMACO. The Federation Council, the upper chamber of Russia’s parliament, is set this week to rule on President Boris Yeltsin’s decision to accept Skuratov’s resignation–this is required by Russia’s constitution–and is also likely to choose a new prosecutor general.

Officially, Skuratov resigned for health reasons, but is widely believed to have been forced out of office. This week’s edition of “Versiya,” which is published by the owners of the monthly tabloid “Sovershenno Sekretno” (Top Secret), claims that Skuratov resigned after being caught on film en flagrante with a woman who was not his wife, in a sting set up by the Federal Security Service (FSB).

According to the weekly tabloid, Skuratov was removed because he had material “which would force one to doubt the honesty of the president… or, at least, his inner circle.” Specifically, the alleged material concerns “huge sums” used to renovate Kremlin apartments and government offices, and other “fantastic” sums which “left Russia and settled in the accounts of a foreign bank,” the weekly reported. It compared the amounts involved to those sent offshore by the Marcos and the Duvalier families.

The tabloid also claims that Valentin Yumashev, the former Kremlin chief of staff and an ally of CIS Executive Secretary Boris Berezovsky, was forced to step down after Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov and his deputies discovered that their phones were being bugged. It also says that Yeltsin himself approved the recent searches of companies controlled by Berezovsky, after being played a tape of a conversation which he, Yeltsin, had in his bedroom (Versiya, February 16-22).

Atoll, a private security firm reportedly controlled by Berezovsky, has been accused of spying on top government officials and members of Yeltsin’s family (see the Monitor, February 3-9). On February 12, “Moskovsky komsomolets” (M-K), which last month broke the story about Atoll, published alleged transcripts of phone conversations between Berezovsky and various personages, including Tatyana Dyachenko, Yeltsin’s younger daughter and “image” adviser (see the Monitor, February 12).

The same day, Berezovsky told the media that the whole controversy was “a well-planned provocation by intelligence services.” Berezovsky said both that the “provocation” was in retaliation for his claims that high-ranking FSB officers had plotted to kill him and that parts of special services were controlled by the Communists, and for his call that the Communist Party of the Russian Federation be banned (Russian agencies, February 12).