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National Investigation Committee

On November 21, 2006 Boris Gryzlov, speaker of the lower house of the Russian State Duma, proposed a measure to create an investigation committee within the Prosecutor General's Office (PGO) as part of an effort to reform the government's judiciary apparatus. He suggested that once the investigators and prosecutors of the PGO had been separated, and the organization's operations were regulated and simplified, efficiency would increase while corruption would decrease.

Those that supported the formation of the committee argued that it would enhance the overall investigation process by eliminating the complicated bureaucracy that had hampered countless cases in the past. It would also serve to remove the ability of prosecutors to exclusively bring about criminal charges, and reduce corruption throughout Russia's law enforcement organizations.

Opponents of the committee contested that it would encompass a great deal of power, which could ultimately be abused. A deputy prosecutor general, Sabir Kekhlerov, added that, "the adoption of this law will lead to human rights violations on a great scale in the prosecution of criminal cases," as quoted in KOMMERSANT on June 6, 2007.

The bill passed through both levels of the Russian legislature in May, 2007 and was signed into law by President Putin on June 6, 2007. On June 22, 2007, Putin's former classmate from Leningrad State University, Alexander Bastrykin, was confirmed as the Investigation Committee's first Chairman. Bastrykin, a lawyer, served in the Justice Ministry and Interior Ministry Departments from 2001-2006.

In the aftermath of his appointment Bastrykin reiterated the notion of eventually merging Russia's separate investigation entities. Bastrykin reported that the Committee would focus its initial investigation efforts on the murders of Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB officer killed in November 2006, and Anna Stepanova Politkovskaya, a Russian journalist killed in October 2006. He also reiterated the notion of eventually merging all of Russia's investigatory agencies into a single body.

The committee has been compared to a Russian version of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Chairman of the Investigation Committee, whose official title is the Deputy General Prosecutor, is appointed by the President and approved by the Federation Council. Although the new organization is technically subordinate to the PGO it is by and large an independent agency that reports directly to the President.

The Committee will commence operations on September 7, 2007, when the law that approved its creation officially comes into effect. Investigators will continue to be subjected to the supervision of the Prosecutor's Office but will be granted procedural sovereignty to conduct their investigations.

The epicenter of the Investigation Committee will be the Main Investigation Administration. Its ancillary departments will include military, special, and regional investigation administrations. Its main function lies in the process of conducting pre-trial investigations and general inquiries of criminal cases currently within the spectrum of the PGO.

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