Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 55

President Boris Yeltsin spent yesterday seemingly trying to limit the damage from the Federation Council’s March 17 vote to reject Prosecutor General Yuri Skuratov’s resignation and RTR state television’s subsequent airing of a sex video allegedly starring Skuratov.

Yeltsin yesterday appointed an interagency commission under the aegis of the Security Council, his powerful advisory body, which will look into both the alleged “misdeeds discrediting the honor and dignity” of the prosecutor general and the methods used to gather “kompromat” (compromising materials) against him. The commission will include Kremlin chief-of-staff Nikolai Bordyuzha, who, like Yeltsin, was discharged yesterday from the Central Clinical Hospital; Yuri Zubakov, head of the governmental apparatus and an ally of Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov; Vladimir Makarov, a deputy presidential administration chief; Federal Security Service Director Vladimir Putin; Interior Minister Sergei Stepashin; Yuri Chaika, first deputy prosecutor general; and two members of the Federation Council–Aleksandr Uss, chairman of the Krasnoyarsk regional legislature and Sergei Sobyanin, chairman of the Khanty-Mansi local legislature and head of the Federation Council’s committee on constitutional and legal issues. The two focuses of the commission’s work–the “misdeeds” and the methods of gathering compromising materials–means that it may both punish Skuratov for immoral behavior if he is determined to be the person on the sex videotape, which reportedly shows a man in bed with two prostitutes, and punish those who made the film. The commission is supposed to hold its first session today (Friday, March 19).

Skuratov charged yesterday that the film was part of an effort to discredit him and destroy his investigation into the activities of Mabetex, a Swiss construction company which carried out large-scale construction contracts at the behest of the Kremlin’s “housekeeping” department, headed by Pavel Borodin, a long-time member of Yeltsin’s inner circle. The prosecutor general, however, did not deny that he was the man on the tape. According to one account, the decision to air the fragment of the video on RTR state television was made by Mikhail Lesin, first deputy chairman of the channel’s parent company, the All-Russian State Television and Radio Company (VGTRK), and a Kremlin insider, and Tatyana Dyachenko, Yeltsin’s daughter and adviser, also gave her “personal authorization.” Lesin denied any involvement, and VGTRK’s chairman, Mikhail Shvydkoi, said the decision was solely his (Russian agencies, March 18; Kommersant daily, March 19). Unnamed law enforcement officials were cited yesterday as saying that there would now be an investigation into VGTRK’s finances (Russian agencies, March 18). The state media company’s finances, like those at Russian Public Television, have been murky and the subject of much press speculation concerning possible corruption.