Lieberman Stands by His Party Man

Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov gets foreign minister's backing after reports of heavy drinking.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman threw his full support behind Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov from his Yisrael Beiteinu party yesterday, following reports in the media this week about Misezhnikov's supposed habits of partying and heavy drinking.

"I have known Stas for 15 years," said Lieberman, who is also chairman and founder of Yisrael Beiteinu. "I have had the opportunity to spend many hours with him at work and outside of work. I agree that Stas' habits are not those of [MKs] Moses and Eichler of United Torah Judaism, but they are still far from the colorful descriptions in the media."

Lieberman said Misezhnikov has proof he was not in a restaurant while the cabinet was meeting about the release of Gilad Shalit, one of the accusations made against the minister. His former security guards also told Channel 2 news he has a penchant for getting drunk in clubs after work.

Misezhnikov strongly denied all the accusations. He said the guards were dismissed for inappropriate, even violent, behavior and are trying to extort money. The Civil Service Commission has also found the claims to be unfounded, said Misezhnikov.