Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 125

Russian president Boris Yeltsin has suspended Justice Minister Valentin Kovalev, whose place is to be filled on a temporary basis by First Deputy Minister Georgy Kulikov. Yeltsin acted after Interior Minister Anatoly Kulikov told the cabinet that a video showing Kovalev with naked women in a sauna was genuine, and that he had informed Yeltsin of its existence six weeks before pictures appeared on the front page of a Russian tabloid. (RTR, ORT, Itar-Tass, June 25)

Scandals relating to sexual impropriety are almost unknown in Russia, where politicians’ private lives have traditionally been considered none of the public’s business. The Soviet population famously learned that Yury Andropov had a wife only when she turned up at his funeral. Kovalev continues to protest his innocence, while the press, true to its habitual preoccupation with conspiracy theories, seems fixated on the question of who leaked the video and for what ulterior purpose. Rumor has it that the video contains footage of several other politicians, much more influential than the relatively unknown Kovalev, but that their identities are for some reason being kept secret.

Deputy Premier Threatens Duma with Dissolution.