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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Police Drops Khinshtein Case




Police officials said Wednesday they have dropped a controversial criminal case against Moskovsky Komsomolets reporter Alexander Khinshtein, whom investigators tried to force into a psychiatric hospital.


The case was dropped because the investigation showed that "his actions presented no major threat to society and didn't cause any serious consequences," Vladimir Martynov, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry's investigative committee, said in a telephone interview Wednesday.


"We have figured out that it is not worth the trouble, but before figuring that out we had to do some investigation," Martynov said, adding that the reporter's poor health was another reason.


Last month, police charged that, when applying for a driver's license in 1996, Khinshtein had concealed the fact that he had suffered from a psychiatric disorder.


But Khinshtein repeatedly said the case against him was fabricated by the Interior Ministry and Interior Minister Vladimir Rushailo to punish him for exposing what he called high-level corruption and attacking politically connected tycoon Boris Berezovsky.


Martynov said Khinshtein's articles had nothing to do with the subject of the investigation. "Pressure on the investigators from the behalf of the minister is excluded," he added.


On Jan. 17, an investigator came to Khinshtein's home and tried to take him to Vladimir, central Russia, for testing. But the reporter produced papers saying he couldn't leave his apartment.


On Feb. 7, Khinshtein voluntarily checked into the Moscow Psychiatric Research Institute for an examination to prove he was of sound mind.


The case drew widespread media coverage and criticism. Some said it hearkened back to the Soviet-era practice of confining dissidents in psychiatric hospitals and was a sign of shrinking press freedom.


Khinshtein could not be reached for comment Wednesday, but his mother, Inna Regerer, said she was relieved that the investigation was closed but was puzzled by the way it was done.


"I think all this was done to intimidate him so he stops publishing his articles," Regerer said in a telephone interview Wednesday.


She said she thinks the authorities may take other action and said she was afraid to leave her house, fearing more "provocations."


Regerer could not say how long he will stay in the clinic or when the doctors would rule on his mental condition, but suggested it would not take longer than a week. "He is healthy, I know that, and the doctors told me that as he checked in," she said.


Charges were also dropped against Oleg Sudakov , a former customs official who issued a police ID to Khinshtein, Martynov said.


Sudakov was arrested last month in Moscow and charged with "abusing his power." He was accused of giving Khinshtein a document identifying the reporter as a police captain and another document identifying him as a spokesman for the customs office.


Sudakov left his job after the two IDs were found on Khinshtein when he was stopped by traffic police last May.


"The investigation took into account the fact that Oleg Sudakov left his job and that's why will not be able to issue more documents, while Khinshtein's IDs were confiscated and he will not be able to use them any more," Martynov said.