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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Yeltsin Seeks New Prosecutor General




President Boris Yeltsin is eager to be rid of Prosecutor General Yury Skuratov, telling Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov on Tuesday that a replacement must be found - and soon.


But the next move belongs not to Yeltsin, but to Skuratov. Six weeks after he made sweeping corruption allegations, then abruptly resigned, the top prosecutor is to go before the Federation Council, which has final say on whether the resignation is accepted.


Members of the upper house of parliament say they want to hear why he submitted his resignation. At the time, Skuratov cited ill health, something few believe.


Yeltsin, however, doesn't seem overly solicitous of the council's prerogatives. "They agreed a solution to the personnel issue must not be dragged out," presidential spokesman Dmitry Yakushkin said in remarks reported by Interfax.


Both Federation Council head Yegor Stroyev and legal and court reform committee chairman Sergei Sobyanin met with Skuratov on Tuesday, Interfax reported. Sobyanin said Skuratov would request to resign and the committee would support him. Stroyev, however, was more coy.


"He'll come see us tomorrow and will appear before members of the house. He himself will make the final decision about his resignation," Stroyev said Tuesday. "Don't rush events."


The Federation Council, made up of regional administration heads and chairmen of regional legislatures, tends to avoid open confrontations with the Kremlin and seems disinclined to provoke one by rejecting the resignation.


Nonetheless, people are waiting to hear what Skuratov has to say after weeks of silence.


Skuratov appeared to have resigned under pressure after setting in motion several corruption scandals. In a letter to parliament, he said the Central Bank had been paying commissions to an unknown offshore company, FIMACO, to handle the country's hard currency reserves. He had also asked Swiss prosecutors to look into the relationship between a construction company in Switzerland and top government officials.


His office also launched corruption probes against businesses believed to be linked to the Kremlin-connected billionaire Boris Berezovsky. It's not clear whether any of these efforts provoked Yeltsin to fire him.


The council had been set to consider the resignation Feb. 15, but Skuratov failed to show, sending word he was in the hospital for heart treatment.


Members cited rules saying the prosecutor must attend meetings where his job status is discussed.


Adding to the mystery, Skuratov returned to work last week as if he had never been gone. In his Feb. 1 letter to Yeltsin, he cited an inability to carry out his duties and reportedly checked into the Central Clinical Hospital for treatment of heart troubles.


Yeltsin last month sent a request to the council that they consider the resignation despite house rules on the matter, but it was ignored.


Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov, a likely presidential contender and Yeltsin critic, said Tuesday that Skuratov was "at an age when he is completely capable of working, is physically healthy, works out, and the health excuse is a cover for completely different reasons," Itar-Tass reported.