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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Suspects in Cop Death Have Police Ties

A friend said Lykov had made many enemies exposing crimes of other officers.

Police in Saratov said Thursday that two men arrested on suspicion of being involved in the murder of Igor Lykov, a police major who blew the whistle on corrupt colleagues, are linked to the police.

Lykov's friends say his killing was an act of vengeance by local police for the major's 25-year campaign to uncover graft among his fellow officers in the region, 750 kilometers southeast of Moscow.

Lykov, 45, was shot by an unidentified assailant at his home on the evening of May 2 in what local prosecutors have said resembled "a contract killing."

"Two men have been detained ... both with links to law-enforcement structures," said Sergei Sokolov of the Interior Ministry's Transportation Police Directorate in a telephone interview Thursday.

Neither of the suspects has been charged so far. One of them, a sacked police officer, was detained May 6, but it is not clear when the second man was arrested. Sokolov, who has been assigned to help with the investigation, refused to name the suspects or say whether either of the two could have fired the lethal shot.

Sokolov noted, however, that both suspects could have been driven by the desire to avenge Lykov for his whistle-blowing activities.

Lykov's friends did not hesitate to link his slaying to local police.

"Law-enforcement bodies are directly related to this," said Svetlana Baranova, a former police colleague and friend of Lykov's, in a telephone interview.

Baranova said Lykov's shooting was the second attempt on his life in two weeks. The first fell through when Lykov noticed, just before he turned out onto a busy highway, that his car's brake cable was deliberately severed.

Baranova said she chatted with Lykov only two hours before his death, and he boasted of his court victories over corrupt police. She recalled Thursday: "I told him, 'You are playing a dangerous game -- you will get killed,' but he just laughed."

Baranova worked alongside Lykov in the Saratov police for more than a decade before retiring in 1990 to become a private lawyer.

She said Lykov made numerous enemies among local police by tirelessly exposing their crimes that ranged from corruption to illegal sales of weapons and manslaughter.

Gellerd, of the regional prosecutor's office, which is leading the investigation into Lykov's murder, said that the late officer "had many enemies" in the Saratov law-enforcement community.

Lykov is survived by his daughter Lida, 15, and son Ilya, 20.

During his 25 years of service he forced at least 15 local law-enforcers to retire after exposing their misdemeanors, Lykov's friends said. They said the 15 included his own boss, whom he caught red-handed in an apartment scam in 1993.

The Moscow human rights activist Andrei Mironov and the well-known dissident Sergei Grigoryants said Lykov actively championed human rights, something they said was a unique occupation for a police officer.

This year Lykov was campaigning to bring two cases to court: what he believed was the unlawful imprisonment of an 18-year-old woman and an alleged attempt by a fellow police officer to extort a car from a suspect.

Lykov regularly traveled to Moscow to make reports at human rights seminars organized by Grigoryants' human rights group, Glasnost. During his last visit to Moscow on April 29, the major told Mironov that he was being followed.

Lykov had a distinguished record as a crime-fighter. In 1982, he helped track down a convict who killed the prime minister of what was then the Soviet Republic of Kyrgyzia.

Lykov himself was fired twice and had 17 disciplinary actions filed against him, but in each case the charges against him were dropped.

The local directorate of the Federal Security Service, the main successor to the KGB, arrested Lykov in 1992 on charges of disclosing state secrets in articles he had published in a local newspaper. In the articles, Lykov quoted parts of secret police instructions specifying what he described as unethical methods of recruiting informants.

The security service was subsequently forced to release Lykov, who went on to win the case in Russia's Supreme Court.

His friends said Wednesday that all the attempts to oust Lykov were instigated by his superiors and counterparts in other local law-enforcement agencies.

No one at the Saratov branch of the Federal Security Service could be reached for comment despite repeated telephone calls this week.