YURY SKURATOV: "MY UNIFORM HAS BEEN CONFISCATED"
Moskovsky Komsomolets, April 23, 1999, pp. 1, 2
The only newspaper that managed to interview Yury Skuratov after the notorious vote in the Federation Council was Moskovsky Komsomolets.
Question: Yury Ilyich, what are your feelings following the vote in the Federation Council?
Yury Skuratov: My feelings are contradictory. On the one hand, I was the one who applied for resignation. On the other hand, I revere the decision of the Federation Council, and therefore I will continue to work.
Q.: However, you have announced that you will not be able to work for understandable reasons.
YS: Of course, if a decision is again made without being supported by legal mechanisms, it will be impossible to continue to work. I wanted to go to my office today, but a body guard of mine told me that I would not be let into the building of the General Prosecutor’s Office. By the way, I had to go to the Federation Council in civilian dress, because my uniform is in the arrested office.
It seems to me that the Federation Council ought to take all necessary measures to let me work.
Q.: Does the Federation Council intend to appeal to the court?
YS: I don’t have such information. I wasn’t invited to the Thursday meeting. But every decision must have some logic. The situation must not remain in a suspended state any longer.
Q.: Some are saying now that, by voting against your resignation, the Federation Council has quarreled with the president. Alexander Lebed has announced frankly that this decision marks the end of the president’s power. Do you agree with this statement?
YS: I think the vote was not of a personal nature. The senators did not support me, they protested the methods by which the president’s inner circle is trying to get rid of me. Mind you, only the governors who are against me have access to TV screens, and those who support me don’t have any. What do the senior authorities fear? They fear lest a really independent General Prosecutor’s Office be created. They are also afraid of our activities, for recently a number of active measures have been taken to investigate some scandalous cases, on which the public’s attention is now focused.
Q.: Could you name at least some of these cases?
YS: For example, the case of law violations in making credit agreements with the Swiss firm Noga and the case of gross misappropriations of budget funds in the relations of the Presidential Affairs Department and the Swiss firm Mabetex. The Swiss Federal Prosecutor’s Office is investigating this case simultaneously. Work on it is in full swing, and we are staying in contact with each other. The Swiss Federal Prosecutor’s Office has provided Moscow with a lot of useful documents, many of which were given to me during the recent visit of Carla del Ponte.
Q.: Let’s imagine that you resume your work. What will your relationship with the president be now that he has openly announced that “Skuratov is a shame and disgrace”?
YS: The president may like or dislike whomever, but he should act in accordance with the law. If I chance to resume my work, I will cooperate with him within the framework of the law and the Constitution. Well, he’s the president of the country…
Q.: And if you are not allowed to work?
YS: Then it will be proven once again that the decisions of the Upper Chamber are meaningless.
Q.: Your attitude towards the legal proceedings instituted against you is well known. But if the proceedings are illegal, so to say, then the president’s law is also illegal. What is the way out of this dead end?
YS: I don’t know. You see, Putin once again announced after the vote in the Federation Council that the decree on my dismissal is in force.
I am afraid that the mechanism of legal proceedings which has been launched will continue going. Honest people, such as General Bagraev, who dared announce the illegality of instituting the proceedings, will be dismissed from the investigation commission, and only blind executors of the president’s whims will be left.
A NEW SCANDAL IN KRASNOYARSK
Parlamentskaya Gazeta, April 23, 1999, p. 2
Our times are rich in various scandals. One of them has taken place in Krasnoyarsk. As has already been reported, Senior Deputy Interior Minister Vladmir Kolesnikov, head of the special committee of the Interior Ministry and the Federal Security Service, has announced the institution of proceedings against Anatoly Bykov, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Krasnoyarsk Aluminum Plant, for laundering illegal incomes. We have managed to interview Anatoly Bykov on the telephone about this matter.
Question: Anatoly Petrovich, you are accused of laundering illegal money and connections with criminal gangs…
Anatoly Bykov: Sheer bosh! I have been involved with business since the very beginning of the cooperative movement, and I am used to investing every kopeck in it. And a thief is someone who tries to steal as much as he can. As for me, I have invested either my money or the money of investors whom I had attracted. My accounts are transparent at every place of my work, at the KrAZ plant, etc. I am a producer but not a financial magnate.
As for relations with the criminal world, yes, nobody could defend us from racketeers at the beginning of the 1990’s, and we had to defend ourselves by our own means. But we did not shoot at racketeers, they just felt our strength and receded. Today it is difficult for us to survive, since it is not racketeers but high-ranking politicians and oligarchs who are attacking us as they aspire to redistribute property at any price. Actually, it is the same racket – the extortion of money for electoral campaigns and gaining political fame in dirty ways.
Q.: It is rumored that you are in a state of war with Krasnoyarsk Governor Alexander Lebed. Don’t you think it is time to make peace with each other?
AB: I would have been inclined to reconcile if Krasnoyarsk were not headed by a man who is running for president and who thinks of his current position only as an intermediate step. Alas, I think Alexander Ivanovich won’t change. He prefers war, and I want to work.
RUSSIAN POLITICIANS ON THE RESULTS OF THE VOTE ON SKURATOV
Trud-7, April 23, 1999, p. 2
Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov: The results of the vote show that His Majesty The Law has won. The Federation Council has made the principal decision about whether the country will be governed by the law or whether precedent rules about dismissing general prosecutors and instituting legal proceedings against them and hindering their work will dominate in this state. In March, during the first vote, the Federation Council voted for the independence of the General Prosecutor’s Office from the senior authorities. The further development of the situation and the relationship between the president and the Federation Council will entirely depend on the president. I think it is necessary to convince the president that Skuratov should be allowed to work, and that this problem may be solved within the framework of the law, in the regime of agreements and dialog.
Sergei Sobyanin, Chairman of the Committee for Constitutional and Judicial Affairs of the Federation Council: The Upper Chamber should resume discussions about the question of Skuratov’s dismissal. In spite of the decision of the Federation Council, he will not be able to normally work, to coordinate the activities of law enforcement agencies. He will not be able to be objective. The best option would be for Skuratov to name his desired successor. Then there would be a guarantee that the corruption proceedings instituted by him will be continued.
Krasnoyarsk Governor Alexander Lebed: The decision of the Federation Council not to accept the resignation of Yury Skuratov is the ruin of the president’s power. The blunder of the Kremlin Administration was that it had too little respect for the senators. It is necessary to explain the situation. A month ago none of this could have been understood, and today it is the same. The motivation for instituting proceedings against Skuratov is also not clear, and no one has condescended to say something sensible about it. The speech of Presidential Administration Director Alexander Voloshin was helpless, and the game of Skuratov’s dismissal was thus lost. But Yeltsin will hardly take any radical measures in this connection. His health won’t allow him to. Petty squabbling will start, new compromising materials, new prosecutors, accounts… a fight of cockroaches.
Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznev: There is nothing terrible about the decision of the Federation Council. The decision was made in accordance with the Constitution. There is the General Prosecutor’s Office as an institution of power and there is the acting general prosecutor, so let the General Prosecutor’s Office work normally. I would like the Federation Council to support the decision to create a commission to fight corruption. I think the effect would be better if its efforts were coordinated with those of the analogous Duma commission.
Dmitry Yakushkin, the Presidential Spokesman: Boris Yeltsin has calmly received the decision of the Federation Council. He respects the opinion of the senators, who have used their constitutional right. However, he has noted that this decision unfortunately does not solve the problem of the General Prosecutor’s Office. The president’s position has not changed. The president’s decree on Skuratov’s dismissal is in force until the proceedings are over. The president still thinks that it is necessary to find a solution to this problem which is in the interests of the state.
Moskovsky Komsomolets, April 23, 1999, p. 2
Commenting on Yeltsin’s opportunities, experts are making bold conjectures. One of the most interesting of them is that legal proceedings will be instituted against some senators.
It is rumored that the General Prosecutor’s Office has materials on practically everyone in the Federation Council.
What will be the reaction of the Federation Council to such a mess? It depends on how they assess the president now. If they see in him the center of state power and the main source of money, they will be afraid and will not be naughty any more and will drop their latest plaything in the person of the prosecutor. But if he is neither strong nor fierce in their eyes, they will get offended with him and impeachment will become more realistic.
RUSSIA WILL NOT PARTICIPATE IN THE NATO WASHINGTON SUMMIT
Izvestia, April 23, 1999, p. 1
President Yeltsin has made the final decision that Russia will not participate in the Washington summit of NATO. The reason for this decision is the current aggression in the Balkans. The announcement of the Russian Foreign Ministry signed by Igor Ivanov states that it is impossible for Russia to continue relations with NATO. Yury Ushakov, Russia’s ambassador to the US, will not attend the summit either.
Viktor Kalashnikov, a political researcher: Russia’s presence at the summit would be irrelevant from the political and diplomatic viewpoints. Apparently, Chernomyrdin had a bee in his bonnet when preparing to go to Washington, but after the events in the Federation Council the scheme was altered, and the president has started to reduce the importance of his special representative, who was appointed not without America’s prompting. Oddly enough, the Skuratov case will be reflected in the foreign policy of Russia. Under the present circumstances, there is nothing left for Russia but to stick to its policy, take advantage of the situation in the Balkans in its interests, and nurture its popularity in other regions which are dissatisfied with the activities of NATO.
Sergei Romanenko, an analyst of the Slavic Studies Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences: Freezing relations with NATO has its logic, but it is unproductive. Participation in making decisions about the Balkans would help Russia intensify its presence in this region.
It should not be forgotten that Moscow has also made its contribution to destabilization in the region. To get revenge on Tito, the Soviet Union provided Albania with weapons and trained the Albanian Army, although in 1949 Enver Khodja wrote to Stalin that the main aim of Albania was to unite with Kosovo. It is evident that sooner or later Milosevic will start open political bargaining with the West. As for Moscow, however close its declared relations with the Serbs may be, its interests will sooner or later contradict the regional interests of Belgrade.
CHERNOMYRDIN MEETS WITH MILOSEVIC
Independent Television (NTV), Segodnya, April 22, 1999, 14:00
On April 22, Special Presidential Representative Viktor Chernomyrdin met with Yugoslavian President Slobodan Milosevic. Chernomyrdin came to Belgrade an hour after the air alarm stopped. Belgrade newspapers have already called Chernomyrdin the Russian Hollbrook. We will note that Hollbrook was the most successful conciliator in the Balkans during the conflicts in Bosnia and Croatia. But Chernomyrdin’s current task is more difficult.
OREKHOV’S PETITION FOR RESIGNATION IS ACCEPTED
Russian Television (RTR), Vesti, April 22, 1999, 20:00
Boris Yeltsin has signed the petition for the resignation of Ruslan Orekhov, Deputy Director of the Presidential Administration and the Director of the Main Presidential State Legal Department. According to our sources, Orekhov applied for resignation two months ago. Orekhov used to be the president’s special plenipotentiary in the Federation Council, but the Public Relations Department of the Presidential Administration asserts that the president’s decision is in no way connected with the decision of the Federation Council regarding Skuratov.
RUSSIAN-MOLDOVAN NEGOTIATIONS ON THE ARSENAL OF THE 14TH ARMY
Russian Television (RTR), Vesti, April 22, 1999, 11:00
During the negotiations between Russian Senior Vice Premier Vadim Gustov and the authorities of Moldova, the schedules of 12 trains to transport the arsenal of the former Russian 14th Army was coordinated. It is noteworthy that Chisnau is not demanding part of profits from the sale of the equipment. As Mr. Sturza, the Prime Minister of Moldova, has said, Chisnau is only interested in getting the weapons out of the Trans-Dniester.
The capacity of the military arsenals stored in the settlement of Colbasna in the Trans-Dniester is equal to approximately 150 nuclear bombs of the Hiroshima type. Part of the arsenal is being kept in unsatisfactory conditions, which is extremely dangerous. Vadim Gustov wanted to touch on this topic during a meeting with Trans-Dniestrian President Igor Smirnov. Alas, Mr. Smirnov did not guarantee that he would receive the Russian guests. Vadim Gustov announced in this connection: “The demeanor of the Trans-Dniestrian president does not contribute to his reputation and is giving Russia the opportunity to take tougher and more decisive measures to solve this problem.”