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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bastrykin Says He Ordered Storchak Inquiry

The Investigative Committee head Alexander Bastrykin confirmed in court Monday that he had ordered former investigator Dmitry Dovgy to look into the dealings of Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Storchak.

Bastrykin, the highest-level official to testify in a trial in recent memory, appeared on behalf of prosecutors in their ongoing case against Dovgy, who is accused of accepting a bribe.

Dovgy in turn has accused Bastrykin of improperly ordering him to open an investigation into Storchak, whom he called innocent.

Storchak was arrested on attempted embezzlement charges in November 2007 and freed last fall pending trial.

Bastrykin said Monday that he ordered Dovgy to open an investigation in December 2007 into Storchak's dealings in debt negotiations with Kuwait, despite Dovgy's objections.

"I received documents from the Audit Chamber and insisted that the incident be investigated. That was my only direct order," Bastrykin said, reported.

The investigation was closed six months later, although Storchak is still being investigated on other charges.

Dovgy, who was dismissed from the Investigative Committee last year, is on trial for charges of taking a bribe of 750,000 euros in exchange for halting an investigation into suspected embezzlement from the Tomskneft oil firm in 2005 and 2006.

Bastrykin testified that he had not followed the Tomskneft case closely and had not believed that Dovgy had committed wrongdoing until he read a transcript of the purported deal.

Dovgy has denied the charges, which carry a maximum sentence of 12 years in prison.

The trial is seen as a part of a power struggle between political clans.