Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov defended himself on Tuesday from accusations that he spent alcohol-fueled nights out with girls instead of attending government meetings, even as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the reports “disturbing.”
Several of Misezhnikov’s former bodyguards were quoted by Channel 2 news on Monday as saying the Yisrael Beytenu minister enjoys drinking to excess on a regular basis, visiting strip clubs and dodging security personnel.
“I have heard about the report, and it was indeed troubling. I am also aware of the minister’s response,” said Netanyahu. “We will conduct an inquiry into the matter.”
Misezhnikov said the accusations emanated from a cadre of disgruntled ex-employees.
He called the claims “slander from employees who were involved in incidents of misconduct and even of violence, for which they were fired. Now, they are trying to get their revenge by fabricating lies.”
“I am a young and dynamic minister, and after working long hours I love going out,” Misezhnikov said on Tuesday. “I am not embarrassed to sit and have a drink, I also love to go dancing on weekends. I don’t want to go to bed at 10 p.m. at the age of 43. If you can find a clause under which it is illegal, sue me.”
Misezhnikov continued: “I have never been inebriated in public, or had to be carried to my car by bodyguards, nor have I gone to strip clubs. I have never defiled my position, and I don’t intend to do so.”
Sources in the Tourism Ministry acknowledged that, during Misezhnikov’s stint as minister, he had to meet with senior members of the Shin Bet security services to discuss the difficulties in protecting him that his lifestyle caused.
Asher Zeiger contributed to this report.