Miseznikov: I passed a breathalyzer this morning

Minister jokes about claims of drunkenness, missing cabinet meetings; Knesset Ethics C'tee "lacks teeth" to punish such acts.

Stas Misezhnikov 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Stas Misezhnikov 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Tourism Minister Stas Meseznikov addressed allegations that he regularly gets drunk, goes to strip clubs and misses important cabinet meetings in good humor on Tuesday, saying that former bodyguards leaked false stories but that he still has a right to have fun.
“They sit in the studio with their voices distorted and their faces hidden, lying and throwing mud, because they want revenge,” Meseznikov told reporters at an event in the Tel Aviv Hilton. “How should ministers, the prime minister and others feel, if they need to be concerned that their fired bodyguards will reveal all their secrets?” The tourism minister called the situation a “security failure, the likes of which the State of Israel has never seen.”
Meseznikov also said that he is “a young, dynamic 43-yearold minister who enjoys going out to dance after long work hours. I have never gone to a strip club – that is one big lie.”
The minister showed a sense of humor about the issue, joking in his speech at the event that he would start with a toast, but there seems to be a new prohibition law.
Earlier in the day, Meseznikov cracked jokes before a joint cabinet meeting with Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Metodiev Borisov.
“I can tell you one thing,” Meseznikov told reporters on his way into the meeting. “I got to work on time this morning, and I passed a breathalyzer test.”
On Monday night, Channel 2 reported that Meseznikov’s former bodyguards alleged he missed the cabinet meeting in which ministers voted for the prisoner exchange to bring home then-captive soldier Gilad Schalit – because he was getting drunk with friends.
They also claimed the married minister regularly sleeps at his second home in Jaffa, which is not properly protected.
The tourism minister’s spokesman denied the report, saying frustrated bodyguards were trying to take revenge because they were fired for violence and improper behavior.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu commented on the issue, saying that he heard the reports, and found them to be “very disturbing.”
However, Netanyahu added, he also heard Meseznikov’s response, and as such, the matter must be investigated before any decisions are made.
Knesset Ethics Committee chairman Yitzhak Vaknin (Shas) said that, if the report is true, he would have to call a meeting on the topic.
“The most we can do is strongly censure [Meseznikov], because he committed ethics violations,” Vaknin told Army Radio. “I have said many times before that the Ethics Committee needs to be more [aggressive] in certain cases.”
The Shas MK called the tourism minister’s alleged habits “insulting and harmful.”
“If I was his bodyguard and had to enter a strip club, what should I do as a religious person? Enter or not?” Vaknin asked.
Government Services Minister Michael Eitan said the fact that security guards leaked information to the press is “a serious failure,” and that security workers must turn to their bosses if they think a minister is behaving inappropriately.