YELTSIN-ERA INVESTIGATOR ATTEMPTS A COMEBACK.

Publication: Monitor Volume: 7 Issue: 217

An attempt to re-enter politics by former Russian Prosecutor General Yury Skuratov has provoked a new scandal. In 1998, Skuratov made waves when he conducted a series of high-profile investigations into alleged corruption among Russia’s elite. When President Boris Yeltsin sacked Skuratov in April 1999, the official reason was an explicit, secretly filmed video in which Skuratov was shown having sex with two prostitutes in a brothel. Just before he was sacked, however, Skuratov had handed Yeltsin a report alleging corruption among members of the so-called Kremlin “Family.” Few commentators thought the two events were unconnected. Now Skuratov wants to return to politics. On November 19, he was elected to represent the Republic of Buryatia in the Federation Council, upper chamber of the Russian parliament. Buryatia’s Supreme Khural (parliament) gave Skuratov thirty-nine votes. Defeated candidate Sergei Mezenin got only twelve, though he was the choice of the outgoing senator, speaker of Buryatia’s parliament Mikhail Semenov (News.buryatia.ru, November 19). Skuratov’s victory looked assured, and Federation Council speaker Yegor Stroev declared that there would be no problems about his taking up his seat (Polit.ru, November 20). However, problems did arise. Buryatia’s prosecutor declared–without giving details–that the Khural had somehow violated federal law in electing Skuratov (Russian agencies, November 20).

The Khural says it will meet in a special session on November 28 and hold the election again (Polit.ru, November 23). For his part, Skuratov insists his election was legal and that what took place proves that “old hostilities” are still alive. He has blamed the administration of President Vladimir Putin, accusing the Kremlin of putting pressure on Buryatia’s president who allegedly, in turn, put pressure on the deputies to the Khural (Radio Ekho Moskvy, November 23).

Boris Makarenko, deputy director of the Center for Political Technologies, says that, even if Skuratov is reelected by the Khural, it will not be easy for him to perform the functions of senator. “Normally,” Makarenko says, “regions consult the Center when choosing candidates for the Federation Council. After all, they are choosing lobbyists in the federal institutions.” In Makarenko’s opinion, Skuratov’s past will make it hard for him to act as a lobbyist in federal agencies (Vedomosti, November 23).

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