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Friday, March 19, 1999 Published at 04:17 GMT

World: Europe

Russian prosecutor in sex video scandal

Questions are being asked over who released the video

The Russian President, Boris Yeltsin, has ordered a commission to investigate a sex scandal involving Russia's prosecutor general.

Andrew Harding: "Stranger and sleazier"
The furore centres on a video which is said to show the Prosecutor General, Yuri Skuratov, in bed with two prostitutes.

Images from the tape were shown on a government-controlled television station on Wednesday.

Mr Skuratov recently launched corruption probes into several prominent figures, and the video was screened shortly after he had received a vote of confidence in parliament.

'Moral unscrupulousness'

Mr Yeltsin, who checked out of hospital where he had been receiving treatment for a bleeding ulcer, announced the investigation into the video affair on Thursday, after meeting Mr Skuratov and Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov.

A joint statement by the president and the prime minister condemned Mr Skuratov for alleged "moral unscrupulousness and scheming."

Some Russian newspapers predict that the affair could now damage President Yeltsin himself, if people believe he was involved in screening the video in an attempt to discredit Mr Skuratov.


[ image: Skuratov: Says video is meant to undermine his anti-corruption work]
Skuratov: Says video is meant to undermine his anti-corruption work
Mr Skuratov himself has dismissed the video as an attempt to blackmail him into halting his anti-corruption work.

His supporters in parliament have tended to disregard it as a 'personal matter'.

Only the far-right Liberal Democrats of Vladimir Zhirinovsky have called for Mr Skuratov's removal in the wake of the video.

Parliament backs Skuratov

The video emerged immediately after the upper house of parliament had passed a motion of confidence in Mr Skuratov, and rejected the resignation which he tendered last month.

Mr Skuratov gave ill health as the reason for his resignation. But it also came after he had antagonised several prominent people - including the influential tycoon Boris Berezovsky - by ordering investigations into corruption allegations.

Yeltsin accepted resignation

President Yeltsin accepted the resignation immediately, and urged parliament to do the same.

Many saw this as evidence that Mr Yeltsin had given in to pressure from those threatened with investigation - Mr Berezovsky included.

Mr Yeltsin's supporters argue that Mr Skuratov's investigations were all part of an attempt at destabilising the current administration.

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