Friday, March 19, 1999 Published at 04:12 GMT
Analysis: Crisis brews over sex video
Skuratov: Many angered by his investigations
By BBC Russian affairs specialist Malcolm Haslett
A new scandal, with very far-reaching implications, has hit Moscow. The senior crime prevention officer, Prosecutor General Yuri Skuratov, who last month offered his resignation, on Wednesday received a vote of confidence from the upper house of parliament, the Federation Council.
But no sooner had that happened when a government-controlled TV channel showed a video allegedly showing Mr Skuratov in bed with two prostitutes. Who's gunning for Skuratov and who's supporting him?
Talk of a crisis
In a sense the fate of Yuri Skuratov himself is of secondary importance. He had antagonised a lot of influential people in recent months by ordering investigations into a series of institutions, ranging from the Central Bank to major businesses, notably those of the controversial financier Boris Berezovsky.
Suspicions over resignation
And the Federation Council, apparently keen to show it does have some independence from Yeltsin, has in effect endorsed these suspicions and asked Mr Skuratov to stay on in his post.
The showing of what purported to be a compromising video of Mr Skuratov on the state-run RTR television channel has further complicated the story. Mr Skuratov himself has dismissed the video as an attempt at 'blackmail'. His supporters in the Duma have tended to dismiss it as a 'personal matter'.
Only the far-right Liberal Democrats of Vladimir Zhirinovsky have expressed shock at what it showed and called for Mr Skuratov's removal.
The main question now is: who will be damaged most by the scandal, and who may gain most? Mr Skuratov may well lose his job.
'Yeltsin could lose'
A lot will depend in coming days on what role the Prime Minister, Yevgeni Primakov, decides to play. He has so far associated himself with President Yeltsin's position, but he has absolutely no interest in a confrontation with parliament, which has generally supported him in the past. Nor has he any interest in protecting people like Mr Berezovsky, a long-standing personal rival.