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Top Moscow Investigators Detained Over Alleged Organized Crime Ties

July 19, 2016

Russia's main domestic security agency has opened a criminal probe into officials with the country's top investigative body over allegations that they received bribes from a crime syndicate and committed other official misconduct.

The Federal Security Service (FSB) said in a July 19 statement that its officers were searching the homes of the suspects from the federal Investigative Committee, Russia's analogue to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, and that they could be taken into custody.

Russian media reported that the FSB, the main successor agency to the Soviet KGB, had detained three senior investigators with the Moscow branch of the Investigative Committee suspected of taking protection money from criminals.

The FSB statement said the investigation was launched with the cooperation of the Investigative Committee, which is headed by Aleksandr Bastrykin, a close associate of President Vladimir Putin, and that the Russian president himself had been briefed on the matter.

The detentions could aggravate rivalries between Russia's law-enforcement agencies, which have regularly battled over resources and turf during Putin's 16 years in power. Most of those clashes unfold behind the scenes, though they have occasionally bubbled over and into the public eye.

Russian news outlets cited unidentified sources as linking the investigation to the recent arrest of alleged crime kingpin Zakharia Kalashov, also known as Shakro Molodoy (Young Shakro), and other purported underworld figures.

Kalashov was charged with extortion on July 12, and a video showing investigators combing through his ornately decorated residence -- featuring a well-stocked exercise room, a cache of top-shelf liquor, and stores of weapons and electronic communication equipment -- circulated widely on the Internet.

Three investigators targeted in the investigation were brought to Moscow's Lefortovo district court for hearings on their formal arrest, according to Russian media reports from the courthouse.

The suspects set to appear in court are Denis Nikandrov, deputy head of the agency's Moscow branch, and Mikhail Maksimenko, head of security, and his deputy Aleksandr Lamonov.

A lawyer for one of the suspects was quoted by the state-owned RIA Novosti news agency as saying that Nikandrov is suspected of receiving a $1 million bribe from Kalashov.

With reporting by RIA Novosti, TASS, Interfax, and zona.media

Source: http://www.rferl.org/content/russia-fsb-3-investigators-arrested/27867469.html

Copyright (c) 2016. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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