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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Police Officer Detained in Wiretapping Probe

A senior city police officer has been detained on suspicion of tapping telephone calls and selling the transcripts of the conversations, police said Friday.

A second officer has resigned in connection with the case, city police spokesman Yevgeny Gildeyev said. He declined to provide further details, citing the ongoing investigation.

Interfax identified the detained officer as Mikhail Yanykin, deputy head of the police department responsible for wiretapping and covert videotaping operations. Interfax, citing an unidentified law enforcement official, said the second officer, Nikolai Orlov, deputy head of the city police's criminal investigations department, had been dismissed.

Yanykin and Lavrov are suspected of bugging the telephone conversations of politicians and businessmen and selling the transcripts to their rivals, Kommersant reported Friday.

Investigators with the Federal Security Service and Interior Ministry found a large number of transcripts of illegally recorded conversations during a recent search of Yanykin's and Orlov's offices, the report said.

Under the law, police officers must obtain a court order to wiretap telephone conversations. FSB investigators said Yanykin and Lavrov skirted the law by merely penciling in additional names to court-approved wiretap lists, Kommersant said.

A former subordinate of Orlov blew the whistle after he was fired by Orlov, the report said. Yanykin was detained a few days ago in his office at the city police headquarters on Ulitsa Petrovka.

An Interior Ministry spokesman said Friday that the two officers were suspected of abuse of office, a crime punishable by up to three years in prison, Interfax reported.

He said the investigation was a joint effort by the FSB, the Interior Ministry's internal affairs division, the city prosecutor's office and police investigators.

A ministry spokesman reached Friday said no officials were available who could comment on the case.

Gennady Gudkov, head of State Duma's Security Committee, said his phone had been illegally tapped and called for the creation of a special parliamentary commission, which would have access to criminal cases involving illegal wiretapping.

Gudkov, a former KGB officer and member of A Just Russia, said former colleagues in the intelligence services had told him that his phone had been tapped on several occasions by senior law enforcement officials.

He said it cost $40,000 to $60,000 to tap a cell phone, while listening in on a fixed line costs $200 to $300 per day.