Chaika Forbids an Investigation

ReutersBastrykin
Prosecutor General Yury Chaika has issued an order forbidding the Investigative Committee from investigating a criminal case involving one of his top deputies, the latest development in a standoff between the two law enforcement entities, Kommersant reported Monday.

Chaika issued the order after Investigative Committee head Alexander Bastrykin attempted to reopen a criminal case in which First Deputy Prosecutor General Alexander Buksman was accused of illegally helping his wife get a job as a Moscow notary public, the report said.

The accusation came from a woman who was passed over for a notary job in 2005 by a commission headed by Buksman, who was then head of the Federal Registration Service and reported directly to Chaika, then the Justice Minister.

The commission awarded Buksman's wife, Irina Buksman, the job in what the plaintiff, Inna Yermoshkina, said was illegal because of a conflict of interest.

A criminal investigation based on the complaint was closed in July 2006, one month after Chaika was appointed Prosecutor General, Novaya Gazeta reported in 2006.

Bastrykin, however, tried to reopen the case last month, prompting Chaika to issue the order preventing the Investigative Committee from further pursing the case, Kommersant said Monday.

Reached by telephone Monday, spokespeople for both the Prosecutor General's Office and the Investigative Committee declined to comment on the report.

Created last year as a semi-autonomous body under the auspices of the Prosecutor General's Office, the Investigative Committee has taken over many of the investigative powers formerly held by the Prosecutor General.

Chaika and Bastrykin have publicly sparred over a number of high-profile cases in a standoff that many observers believe is closely connected with a battle for influence between powerful, competing clans close to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Citing sources in the Investigative Committee and the Prosecutor General's Office, Kommersant reported that Bastrykin's attempt to reopen the Buksman investigation means that the confrontation has reached its culmination and can only be resolved by the Kremlin.

Bastrykin fired a shot across Chaika's bow Friday, telling Interfax in an interview that "some prosecutors think they have the right to illegally reverse legal decisions."

In December, Chaika ordered an inspection of the Investigative Committee's activities to check whether it was carrying out investigations according to the law, but the inspection never got off the ground.

The Investigative Committee is spearheading the contentious criminal cases against senior Federal Drug Control Service official Alexander Bulbov and Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Storchak.

Bulbov is accused of ordering illegal wiretaps and accepting bribes from private firms in exchange for official protection, while Storchak is accused of large-scale fraud and trying to embezzle millions of dollars in government funds.

Both Storchak and Bulbov are believed to belong to a clan close to Chaika and hostile to another clan close to Bastrykin.

Bastrykin met on Monday with President Dmitry Medvedev at the president's Gorki residence outside Moscow, and the two men discussed criminal cases linked to corruption, the Kremlin said on its web site.