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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Prosecutor to Look into Litvinenko, Politkovskaya

Alexander Bastrykin, named Friday as the head of a new investigative committee in the Prosecutor General's Office, said he would place a priority on investigations into the murders of Alexander Litvinenko and Anna Politkovskaya.

Bastrykin, a deputy prosecutor general and former classmate of President Vladimir Putin, was appointed by the Federation Council to head up the new semiautonomous agency, which is taking over the current investigative powers of prosecutors.

Senators confirmed Bastrykin by a 137-0 vote with two abstentions.

The investigative committee's first order of business will be to look into the poisoning death of Litvinenko, a former security services officer, in London last November, Bastrykin said after the vote.

He criticized Scotland Yard for pursuing only one suspect in the case: businessman Andrei Lugovoi.

"The rules of criminal law say that all possible versions must be put forth and investigated," Bastrykin said, Interfax reported.

Britain has charged Lugovoi, also a former security services officer, with Litvinenko's murder and is demanding his extradition.

Bastrykin said his committee would "not rule out" the possible involvement of self-exiled businessman and Kremlin critic Boris Berezovsky in Litvinenko's death.

The committee will also explore different scenarios in the murder of Politkovskaya, the investigative journalist for Novaya Gazeta who was gunned down in her Moscow apartment building in October.

"The case is more complicated than we thought it would be," Bastrykin said, RIA-Novosti reported.

Bastrykin noted that the investigative committee would be authorized to press criminal charges against individuals with special status, including senators, State Duma deputies and "other individuals."

The law establishing the new committee will go into effect on Sept. 6, at which time Bastrykin will officially assume his new post.

The idea of creating an autonomous investigative agency similar to the FBI had been discussed for several years. But some proponents of such a reform have criticized the bill as half-baked.

It has also sparked criticism from Duma deputies, primarily from the Communist faction, who say it will destroy the unity of the prosecutor's office and undercut its oversight functions.

Bastrykin, a native of Pskov, attended Leningrad State University with President Vladimir Putin. In June 2006, Putin appointed him head of the Interior Ministry's branch in the Central Federal District. He was appointed deputy prosecutor general in October.