July 19, 2016
Russia's main domestic security agency has opened a criminal probe into officials with the country's top investigative body over allegations that they received bribes from a crime syndicate and committed other official misconduct.
The Federal Security Service said in a July 19statement that its officers were searching the homes of the suspects from the federal Investigative Committee, Russia's analogue to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, and that they could be taken into custody.
Russian media reported that the the security service, which is the main successor agency to the Soviet KGB, had detained three senior investigators with the Moscow branch of the Investigative Committee, on suspicions of taking protection money from criminals.
A Moscow court later formally placed all three suspects under arrest, according to Russian media reports.
The statement from the agency, known also as the FSB, said the investigation was launched with the cooperation of the Investigative Committee, which is headed by Aleksandr Bastrykin, a close associate of President Vladimir Putin. It said the Russian president himself had been briefed on the matter.
The arrests could aggravate rivalries between Russia's law-enforcement agencies, which have regularly battled over resources and turf during Putin's 16 years in power. Most of those clashes unfold behind the scenes, though they have occasionally bubbled over and into the public eye.
Russian news outlets cited unidentified sources as linking the investigation to the recent arrest of alleged crime kingpin Zakharia Kalashov, also known as Shakro Molodoy (Young Shakro), and other purported underworld figures.
Kalashov was charged with extortion on July 12. A video showing investigators combing through his ornately decorated residence -- featuring a well-stocked exercise room, a cache of top-shelf liquor, and stores of weapons and electronic communication equipment -- circulated widely on the Internet.Three investigators targeted in the probe were placed under arrest on July 19 hearings at Moscow's Lefortovo District Court, Interfax reported.
The arrested suspects were identified as Denis Nikandrov, deputy head of the agency's Moscow branch; Mikhail Maksimenko, head of the branch's internal affairs department; and Maksimenko's deputy, Aleksandr Lamonov.
A lawyer for one of the suspects was quoted by the state-owned RIA Novosti news agency as saying that Nikandrov is suspected of receiving a $1 million bribe from Kalashov.
With reporting by RIA Novosti, TASS, Interfax, and zona.media