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Russia's federal agents raid Russia's federal investigators What we know about today's surprising search and seizure in Moscow

Source: Meduza
Photo: Mikhail Voskresensky / Sputnik / Scanpix / LETA

On Tuesday, July 19, agents from Russia's Federal Security Agency (FSB) raided offices belonging to the Federal Investigative Committee in Moscow, seizing documents and detaining the Moscow branch's deputy head, Denis Nikandrov, and the director of the Investigative Committee's internal security service, Mikhail Maximenko. The two men are likely being charged with official misconduct in connection with a criminal case against the crime boss Zakhar Kalashov, nicknamed “Young Shakro.” Meduza explains what we know so far about the raids and the detained officers.

The searches took place at the Federal Investigative Committee's headquarters in Moscow. FSB agents searched the offices of branch director Alexander Drymanov; his deputy, Denis Nikandrov; and the director of the Investigative Committee's internal security service, Mikhail Maximenko. Afterwards, agents detained Nikandrov and Maximenko. According to Irina Volk, the Interior Ministry's official spokesperson, one of the detained men is being charged with extortion and faces 15 years in prison, if convicted. (It remains unclear which of the two men is being charged with this.) By 3 p.m. on Tuesday, a Moscow court had already received a formal request to place Nikandrov and Maximenko under arrest. According to the news agency Interfax, seven federal investigators are currently implicated in criminal activity. 

The searches could be connected to a criminal case against the crime boss Zakhar Kalashov, nicknamed “Young Shakro,” according to multiple sources in the Russian news media. Kalashov was detained earlier this month on suspicion of extorting tens of millions of rubles from Zhanna Kim, one of the owners of a Moscow cafe called “Elements.” On December 14, 2015, Kalashov's men, led by a certain Andrei Kochiukov, nicknamed “The Italian,” told Kim to pay them a sum of money or sign ownership of the cafe over to another party. The exchange led to a fight, which ended in a brawl and a shootout. Several police officers present in the cafe at the time of the conflict preferred not to get involved. According to the newspaper Kommersant, the officers grabbed their meals and plates and went to finish eating in their patrol car, instead of intervening, watching the gunfire “like they were at the movies.” The news agency Rosbalt reports that the police apparently sided with Young Shakro's men in the fight.

The detained investigators could be protecting Kalashov. According to Interfax, earlier this year, Denis Nikandrov “forgot” to submit a request to extend the arrest of Andrei Kochiukov, who'd been detained after the shootout at the cafe. Kochiukov never made it to freedom, however. When he walked out of jail, waiting for him at the exit were troops from the Special Police Force and agents from the FSB, ready with extortion charges brought by Kim, the cafe owner. Kochiukov was arrested again, and back to jail he went. 

Denis Nikandrov was detained while accepting a bribe from Zakhar Kalashov's men, according to the news agencies Life and RBC, which also report that Nikandrov promised to “resolve the situation” surrounding a criminal case in the works against Kalashov. RBC says Nikandrov promised to end Kalashov's persecution by police for a cool million dollars. Nikandrov was wiretapped for several months, according to Life.

Nikandrov was in investigator in several high-profile criminal cases, including the second case against the owners of the oil company Yukos, which is how he landed on the list of people prepared by Garry Kasparov for the US Congress naming people involved in the persecution of former Yukos heads. Nikandrov also led the case against underground casinos protected by the Moscow prosecutor's office, and the bribery case against the former senior investigator Dmitry Dovgy. 

Officials in the Investigative Committee aren't rushing to comment. Meduza was told to submit its questions in writing, after which a response was promised “within the legally required time period.” RBC cites anonymous sources claiming that Investigative Committee head Alexander Bastrykin consented to the operation in Moscow. Press officers in the FSB say they've already informed President Putin about the raids.

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