Russians relish sex and video `skandal'

RUSSIANS RELISH political "skandals" more than any other blood sport, and the latest to surface in the feral world of Moscow politics is a classic.

The chief exhibit is a secretly recorded videotape, which purports to show the country's top prosecutor cavorting with two young women.

Such scenes ought to be a fatal blot on the curriculum vitae of one of Russia's most senior officials. As Prosecutor General, Yuri Skuratov is in the front line of law enforcement, a medal-bedecked warrior in the battle against corruption.

That is not how it turned out. In the early hours yesterday, a clip of the film was screened on a national television station. There was no sign of the spotless military uniform that Mr Skuratov, 46, is fond of wearing. Instead the portly stud was seen in a pair of underpants.

The screening came as the prosecutor was confident that his job was secure, for the first time since being forced into offering his resignation six weeks ago. Only hours earlier, he had strode out of the Federation Council, parliament's upper house, after it voted to refuse to accept his decision to quit.

The council, made up of powerful regional leaders, was shown the videotape before the vote, but decided that what the prosecutor may have done within the walls of someone else's bedroom was his own business.

While this may appear to be a refreshing example of Russian liberalism, the reality is less attractive. The Prosecutor General's survival revealed only that the upper house was intent on humbling the sick and meddling Boris Yeltsin. The President wanted the Prosecutor General out; the council, which has the final word, was having none of it. So it delivered Mr Yeltsin's second defeat by parliament in just over six months, providing further evidence of his wasted political sinews.

There is another issue. Russia's regional heavyweights in the Federation Council have plenty of their own skeletons. They doubtless hope for the same generosity from the Prosecutor General that they have accorded him. Mr Skuratov's fight against crime will now be tougher still.

Not that he was making much headway. His term has been marked by a failure to crack any high-profile cases - neither the murder of the television executive Vladislav Listyev, nor that of Dmitri Kholodov, an investigative journalist blown up by a briefcase bomb, nor that of the democratic parliamentarian, Galina Staravoitova, gunned down in St Petersburg last year.

Mr Skuratov disagrees. This week he portrayed himself as a victim of his own intrepid labours. Complaining of "illegal bugging" and "interference with private life", he linked his attempted ouster with sensitive operations by his department. It has been looking at how Russia's Central Bank transferred foreign reserves into a Jersey account, and into the activities of the tycoon Boris Berezovsky.

But before he can pursue these matters, Mr Skuratov must fend off a counter-attack by a wounded Mr Yeltsin, who has launched a Security Council inquiry into his conduct.

But one case looks likely to forge ahead. Mr Skuratov's office yesterday said it mightprosecute the RTR channel, which screened the offending clip. The channel had "jeopardised the Prosecutor General".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Hire Manager - Tool Hire

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is seeking someone w...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference
Rugby World Cup 2015: The tournament's forgotten XV

Forgotten XV of the rugby World Cup

Now the squads are out, Chris Hewett picks a side of stars who missed the cut
A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago