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Detention of Russian high-ranked investigators part of anti-corruption campaign — Kremlin

July 20, 2016, 15:11 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The Kremlin is monitoring the situation, the ranks are being cleaned up

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MOSCOW, July 20. /TASS/. The detention of a number of high-ranking officials of the Russian Investigative Committee (SK) is part of the anti-corruption work aimed at cleaning up its ranks, Russian presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Wednesday.

"Investigative actions in the Investigative Committee are part of the anti-corruption work", the Kremlin official said, adding that this work "applies not only to government officials or economic actors, but also to the investigating authorities."

"Indeed, it’s kind of readjustment, cleaning up of the ranks. This is part of the general consistent campaign," Peskov said.

According to him, the Kremlin is monitoring the situation and the president gets detailed information on the matter. "No, I don’t know anything," Peskov said, answering a question how this situation could affect the position of the Investigative Committee head Alexander Bastrykin.

On Tuesday, Moscow’s Lefortovo court arrested three senior officials of the Russian Investigative Committee - chief of the Investigative Committee in-house security department, Mikhail Maksimenko and his deputy Alexander Lamonov, as well as first deputy chief of the Investigative Committee’s Moscow department, Denis Nikandrov. They were detained in a police operation in central Moscow on July 19. Their lawyers are expected to challenge the court ruling. Nikandrov, 38, the youngest of the three, looked self-confident at court. He will be defended by four lawyers.

The Investigative Committee officials are suspected of abuse of power and taking grand bribes from organized crime figures in a collusive action. The maximum penalty for this offence under the Russian Criminal Code is 15 years in prison with a fine of up to 70 times the amount of the bribe. They have not been charged so far.

According to the Moskovsky Komsomolets daily, Nikandrov’s arrest is likely to be linked to the arrest of crime boss, Andrei Kochuikov nicknamed the Italian, who was reportedly involved in a brawl in a cafй in Moscow’s central Rochdelskaya Street in December 2015. The fray ended with two individuals being killed and eight wounded.

"Due to a strange turn of events, the SK investigator, who was looking into this case, simply forgot to request an arrest extension with the court. Security officers however had learned about it beforehand and detained ‘the Italian’ again, right at the entrance to the Matrosskaya Tishina detention center where he had been held. It was rumored back then that Kochuikov’s release was allegedly linked to corrupt officials. It was even said that a sum of one million US dollars had been supposedly earmarked to bribe officers of the SK Moscow department," the newspaper said.

Apart from that, according to the daily, Nikandrov’s detention might have been prompted by the arrest of another crime boss, Zakhary Kalashov, also known as Shakro Junior, on extortion charges.

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