The Rise and Probable Fall of Putin's Enforcer - Michael Weiss - The Atlantic
See below this for 2015 update on Alexander Bastrykin.
The Rise and Probable Fall of Putin's Enforcer
On June 4 2012, Russian reporter Sergei Sokolov was part of a press delegation accompanying the three-year-old Investigative Committee, often described as Russia's FBI, on a trip to Kabardino-Balkaria, a republic in the Caucasus. Sokolov's publication, Novaya Gazeta, is one of the few independent newspapers left in Vladimir Putin's Russia, a fact ominously borne out by the five journalists who have been removed from its masthead by being murdered -- among them, Anna Politkovskaya. So the 59-year-old head of the Investigative Committee, Alexander Bastrykin, might have expected a less-than-friendly audience in Sokolov, who had indeed already filed a blistering dispatch about the Committee's bungled investigation into the murder of 12 people, including four children, in Kushchevskaya, a village in the Krasnodar region, which took place in 2010. Krasnodar is notorious for its gang violence and Sokolov was particularly incensed about what had happened to Sergei Tsepovyaz, a local state official who'd destroyed evidence in the case and whose brother was a known member of the gang that perpetrated the killings: the brother got off with a $5,000 fine. Sokolov not unreasonably alleged a state coverup and named Bastrykin and Putin as "servants" of Krasnodar gangsters. After being cornered by his quarry in Kabardino-Balkaria, however, the journalist apologized for some of his prior coverage, but Russia's top cop was neither appeased nor amused. "I consider myself insulted," Bastrykin replied, "and not just personally. In czarist times they would have called people out to duel over this."
"The hard truth is that, in your emotional state, you rudely threatened the life of my journalist. And you joked that you would investigate the murder case personally."
The only problem is, there is now a Sword of Damocles hanging over Bastrykin's head, too, as he's cultivated nemesis within and without the Kremlin.
|Deputy head of the finance committee in the lower house of parliament Vladislav Reznik. Photographer: Vladimir Fedorenko/RIA Novosti|