Tensions continued to build after yesterday’s overwhelming Federation Council vote not to accept the resignation of Prosecutor General Yuri Skuratov. President Boris Yeltsin reportedly met with Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov yesterday after the decision. The Kremlin press service released a statement in the name of both men which read: “Fully supporting the Federation Council in the fight against crime and corruption, the head of state and the prime minister are united in the opinion that unscrupulousness and dirty politics are incompatible with the high office of prosecutor general” (Russian agencies, March 17). While Primakov was cited in the statement, he has yet to comment on the scandal. Yesterday, Skuratov–during a speech to the Federation Council–said that he had been pressured to keep quiet by various oligarchs (he indicated Boris Berezovsky as one), those who had made money speculating on Russia’s T-bill market and several former deputy prime ministers (meaning Boris Nemtsov and Anatoly Chubais) (see the Monitor, March 17). Later yesterday, Dmitri Yakushkin, Yeltsin’s spokesman, said that the president may ask the Federation Council a second time to dismiss Skuratov. Yakushkin charged that Skuratov had “misled both the president and the respected senators” in saying yesterday that he would stay in office after saying six weeks ago he wanted to step down (Russian agencies, March 17).
Meanwhile, RTR television, which is state-owned, last night broadcast a still shot taken from a video, reportedly fifty-one minutes long, purporting to show Skuratov in bed with two women, allegedly prostitutes. One newspaper reported that the tape had been distributed to Federation Council members in an abortive attempt to turn them against Skuratov (RTR, March, 17; Moskovsky komsomolets, March 18). Skuratov, in an interview he gave NTV television from his mobile phone today, charged that the film was a “provocation” connected to his office’s investigation into Mabetex, a Swiss firm allegedly involved in a number of corrupt deals with the Kremlin administration (NTV, March 18). The Kremlin press service issued a statement today saying the president had asked his advisory Security Council to “check the reliability of information on actions which disgrace and discredit a prosecutor” (Russian agencies, November 18). Also today, Yeltsin reportedly met with both Skuratov and Primakov at the Central Clinical Hospital, where the Russian president has been recuperating from an ulcer, but no details of the meeting were immediately available (AP, March 18).
NEWSPAPER CALLS KREMLIN CAMPAIGN AGAINST SKURATOV A “MAJOR MISTAKE.”