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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Drug Mafia Blamed for Arrests

A Federal Drug Control Service official has accused the drug mafia of being behind the recent arrests of senior officers at the service, including operations department chief Alexander Bulbov.

Multiple charges, including abuse of office, were filed against Bulbov and two other officers Tuesday, in what is widely believed to signal a conflict among security agencies.

"This is the cost of fighting a drug mafia that has enormous resources and from which any provocation is possible," deputy service head Alexander Fyodorov told journalists Monday.

Fyodorov declined to discuss the details of the case against his colleagues, saying the information was classified. "The president appointed him to his post and has twice promoted him," he said. "The president called him and ordered him to help investigate a smuggling case, and he did it so well that five senior officials in the Federal Security Service were removed from their posts."

Fyodorov stopped short of blaming the infighting between security services that many, including Federal Drug Control Service chief Viktor Cherkesov, say is responsible for the arrests.

Bulbov and two other drug enforcement officers were arrested Oct. 1 in Domodedovo Airport as they returned from a foreign trip. Bulbov was accused of ordering illegal wiretaps and accepting bribes from private firms in exchange for official protection.

Cherkesov, a longtime ally of Putin, wrote an article in Tuesday's Kommersant in which he maintained that the arrests revealed a bitter conflict between the country's special services.

Bulbov's lawyer, Sergei Sevruk, said Wednesday that he had been forced by investigators to sign a pledge not to disclose any information about the case.

Sergei Mikheyev, an analyst with the Center for Political Technologies, said the arrests showed the increased competition between security agencies as Putin prepares to leave office in March.

"Worst of all is the fact that the whole system of power Putin strives so hard to portray as united and vertically managed is being publicly discredited," he said.