Israel Tourism Minister's Bodyguards Say He Skipped Crucial Shalit Meeting for Party

Bodyguards say Stas Misezhnikov would regularly slip away and get drunk at night clubs, causing him to arrive late to meetings.

The former bodyguards of Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov claimed that their boss habitually slipped away from them at night, and visited night clubs where he would get drunk regularly, causing them to extend their work hours.

In report on Channel 2, the bodyguards further stated that Misezhnikov missed the cabinet meeting in which it was decided to agree to the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange, because he was at an alcohol-soaked social gathering.

The bodyguards also said that Misezhnikov used to slip away from them during nightly outings, thus making their job increasingly difficult. They further stated that the minister used to visit night clubs, which stretched out their work day and caused him to arrive late to many appointments. Furthermore, according to Channel 2, nine of the minister's bodyguards were recently replaced.

"The minister didn't want to be seen at these clubs," said one of the bodyguards. "You cannot protect a minister in a night club. It is full of people and often criminals. One cannot physically cling to him, otherwise he would start to yell and go wild." Another bodyguard said that "there were times when the minister would go out, without informing anybody, and just get in car. Often, if it was a young bodyguard, he would say 'stay here,' and drive away, which is impossible behavior as far as security procedures. He is gone and you have no idea what he is up to."

According to the bodyguards interviewed, Misezhnikov often used an apartment in Jaffa, which is not his formal address, is not properly guarded, and does not include a guard at the entrance.

Another guard said that Misezhinikov regularly gets drunk at nightclubs. "If it was all over after one drink that would be fine. In dozens of cases, he would stagger back completely drunk, stinking of alcohol. There were periods when this would happen three nights a week. He often lost his balance. There were bodyguards who had to help him, and there were others who refused to do so."

In response, the Tourism Ministry stated that the claims constituted "slander by workers who were involved in improper behavior and even violent events.” According to the ministry, the bodyguards were fired, and are “now are trying to exact revenge by fabricating lies and slander. One worker who was fired turned to the State Ombudsman and his complaint was rejected as unfounded. The minister's security is carried out according to procedures relating to all government ministers, without any deviations or mishaps.”