Revealed: Former Minister Questioned Over Bribery Is Stas Misezhnikov

Misezhnikov, a former tourism minister part of Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beitenu party, often found himself in controversial situations during his tenure.

Olivier Fitoussi

The former minister questioned by Israel Police over allegations of bribery and rigging tenders between 2009 and 2013 is former Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov, it was cleared for publication on Thursday morning.

Police unit Lahav 433, tasked with fighting corruption and organized crime, have been conducting a covert investigation into the matter for the past year. Investigators also carried out searches at homes and offices of other suspects, seizing computers and documents.

The investigation was launched following the State Comptroller's report from 2013, which found problematic conduct at the specific ministry. Tenders worth millions of shekels were rigged, investigators suspect, to benefit the minister's associates.

The last time a former Israeli minister was investigated was in June, when presidential hopeful MK Benjamin Ben-Eliezer was questioned on suspicion that he illegally received funds.

Misezhnikov, part of Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beitenu party, found himself in a number of controversial situations during his tenure.

In January 2010, reporter Chico Menashe revealed on air that the minister’s nightlife often came at the expense of ceremonial events he was supposed to attend during official visits abroad. He interviewed Israeli diplomats in Europe who complained that Misezhnikov was not doing justice to his role as a government minister.

In September 2012, Misezhnikov's security guards claimed he had a penchant for getting drunk in clubs. It was also reported that he missed the government meeting where the prisoner exchange with Hamas for Gilad Shalit was approved due to a prior alcohol-soaked engagement.

"The truth is that I'm 43-years-old, so after work I allow myself to go out late at night with friends and raise a glass. Or, heaven forbid, on weekends I go out to dance," Misezhnikov said at the time. "I've never gotten drunk in public. I've never been dragged [out of a club] - not by a guard and not by a friend. And I've never visited a strip club. That's the truth."