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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Cherkesov Warns of Turf War

A longtime associate of President Vladimir Putin who heads the Federal Drug Control Service warned on Tuesday of an ongoing turf battle among the secret services, saying it could weaken the government and undermine the nation's stability.

Viktor Cherkesov's unprecedented article, published in Kommersant, followed last week's arrests of several senior officers of the Federal Drug Control Service by agents of the Federal Security Service. Analysts described the arrests as part of a longtime battle that pitted Cherkesov against Putin's powerful deputy chief of staff, Igor Sechin, and other members of Putin's inner circle.

Cherkesov did not mention any names in his article, but he said the arrests spotlighted "infighting among the special services."

"There can be no winners in this war," Cherkesov wrote. "There is too much at stake."

Among those arrested last week was Alexander Bulbov, a senior official in the Federal Drug Control Service who was widely described as Cherkesov's right-hand man.

Bulbov has been accused of illegally tapping phones, even though the drug control service is among the security agencies with the authority to do so as part of official investigations.

Bulbov was involved in a corruption investigation into the Moscow furniture store, Tri Kita, which had been accused of evading millions of dollars in import duties. Media reports have linked some senior FSB officials to the business. Some reports said the FSB struck back at Cherkesov's service by arresting Bulbov and other top officials. Commentators described the infighting as a battle for control over money flows and markets.

Cherkesov argued that Russia's stability hinged on the security services, describing KGB veterans as a "Chekist community." In an apparent criticism of his rivals, he said special services officers had become involved in business.

"We mustn't allow warriors to become traders," Cherkesov said. "We mustn't allow scandal and fighting. We mustn't shift from norms to arbitrary ways."