Investigator in Clan War Is Detained

A former senior Investigative Committee official who figures prominently in a battle for influence between powerful Kremlin clans has been detained on suspicion of bribery.

Dmitry Dovgy, former head of the committee's main investigative directorate, was detained Monday evening along with a former colleague on suspicion of accepting 750,000 euros ($1 million) from a businessman in exchange for halting a probe into his company, committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said in a statement Tuesday.

The detention came less than 24 hours before Dovgy was to appear in court to challenge his dismissal earlier this year by Investigative Committee head Alexander Bastrykin.

Dovgy previously worked with the second suspect, Andrei Sagura, at the Chief Military Prosecutor's Office, the armed forces' branch of the Prosecutor General's Office, Markin said.

The two men can remain in custody for up to 48 hours without being charged. Investigators on Tuesday sought a court order to keep the suspects behind bars should they be charged, Markin said.

If charged and convicted, Dovgy and Sagura face up to 12 years in prison.

Dovgy had overseen most of the committee's priority investigations, including the 2006 murder of investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya.

He was suspended from his job in March, following an internal investigation in which he was suspected of demanding multimillion-dollar bribes from two businessmen in exchange for closing two criminal probes against them.

Dovgy's lawyer, Yury Bagrayev, told Interfax that his client was arrested on charges unrelated to those two probes.

Dovgy was dismissed in April for purportedly disclosing confidential information about the Politkovskaya investigation to the media, prompting a public falling out Bastrykin.

Bagrayev said Dovgy believed that he was being targeted by his former colleagues.

"My client said that he saw these actions as a provocation and an act of revenge from the leadership of the Investigative Committee for his public admissions in the press about violations and abuse in the organization,'" Bagrayev told Interfax.

Bagrayev could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

In an interview with Moskovsky Komsomolets published in May, Dovgy said Bastrykin demanded that he open criminal cases against Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Storchak and senior Federal Drug Control Service officer Alexander Bulbov.

Dovgy said he believed that both Storchak and Bulbov, who remain jailed pending trial on corruption charges, were innocent. Both cases are widely seen as closely connected to a battle for influence between powerful, competing clans close to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Shortly before his dismissal in April, Dovgy gave an interview to Izvestia in which he accused self-exiled businessman Boris Berezovsky of ordering Politkovskaya's murder.

Dovgy filed a lawsuit against the Investigative Committee over his dismissal and was due to appear at a hearing related to the suit Tuesday in the Moscow City Court.

Court spokeswoman Anna Usachyova said the hearing would be rescheduled for Thursday because neither Dovgy nor his lawyers showed up Tuesday, Interfax reported.