Deputy Accuses Top Investigator of Illegal Business

State Duma Deputy and muckraking journalist Alexander Khinshtein has accused Investigative Committee head Alexander Bastrykin of illegally running a real estate business in the Czech Republic.

Bastrykin is registered as co-owner of a company called LAW Bohemia, Khinshtein wrote in an article published Wednesday on the front page of Moskovsky Komsomolets.

The expose appears to be the latest chapter in the ongoing public standoff between rival law enforcement agencies.

Published along with the article was a scanned copy of a trade registry entry from the Prague City Court, which listed Alexander Bastrykin and Olga Alexandrova as the company's co-owners and with the same St. Petersburg address.

Alexandrova is Bastrykin's wife and the mother of his two children, Khinshtein wrote.

LAW Bohemia was created in 2000 with founding capital of 100,000 Czech crowns ($6,600), Khinshtein wrote. Bastrykin at the time was not a public official, meaning he was free to engage in private enterprise, he wrote.

"But in July 2001, he was appointed head of the Justice Ministry's branch in the Northwest Federal District. From this day on, the law on government service required Bastrykin to step down as Director of LAW Bohemia. … But somehow he is not doing that," Khinshtein wrote.

Khinshtein concluded by asking readers to consider the report "an official parliamentary inquiry to the president, the head of the Federal Security Service and the prosecutor general."

An Investigative Committee spokeswoman refused to comment on the story Wednesday.

A semiautonomous body created last year, the Investigative Committee has repeatedly clashed with the Prosecutor General Office, under whose auspices the committee formally operates.

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

Khinshtein, who represents United Russia in the Duma, has been a harsh critic of the committee, telling the Tvoi Den tabloid last month that it is "an agency responsible to no one."

Sergei Markov, Khinshtein's fellow Duma deputy from United Russia, said the charges against Bastrykin could be leveled against a number of government employees. "A majority of bureaucrats illegally engage in business," Markov said.

Reached on his cell phone Wednesday evening, Khinshtein defended the article. "You can either keep quiet or report on Bastrykin," he said. "I chose to report."

As a journalist, Khinshtein built a reputation as a pro-Kremlin investigative reporter for the often sensationalist MK.

He was first elected to the Duma in 2003 on the United Russia ticket and re-elected in the December Duma ballot.