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article imageRussia detains investigators over huge mob boss bribes

By AFP     Jul 19, 2016 in Crime

Russia's security service on Tuesday detained senior investigators on suspicion of taking bribes of up to $1 million from mafia bosses in return for letting their cases drop.

The FSB security service said it raided the homes and offices of officials from the powerful Investigative Committee, which leads major criminal probes.

The investigators are suspected of "exceeding their powers and receiving bribes from members of the criminal community," the FSB said.

The three detained include the first deputy chief of the Investigative Committee's Moscow city branch, Denis Nikandrov, RIA Novosti state news agency reported.

President Vladimir Putin has been informed, the FSB said, adding that Investigative Committee chief Alexander Bastrykin sanctioned the detentions.

Moscow's Lefortovo court on Tuesday was to decide whether to hold the suspects behind bars.

They risk up to 15 years in prison if charged with taking especially large bribes.

Nikandrov is suspected of accepting a $1 million bribe and of having links to notorious criminal boss Zakharii Kalashov, nicknamed Shakro the Young, the investigator's lawyer Alexei Noskov told RIA Novosti.

Nikandrov, who was involved in the second prosecution of the Yukos oil company founder Mikhail Khodorkovsky in 2010, denies any guilt, his lawyer said.

Kalashov's lawyer told RIA Novosti he knew nothing about the claims.

Kalashov was arrested this month on suspicion of extorting 8 million rubles ($126,000) from a cafe where two died in a gangland shootout in December.

Television footage showed his arrest in a mansion outside Moscow dripping with gold and chandeliers.

Kalashov, who was born in Georgia, is seen as one of Russia's most influential criminal bosses involved in businesses such as casinos.

Also known as "the Invisible Man", he lived in Spain for several years but had to flee in 2005 to dodge a major police operation during which around 30 people from the former Soviet Union were arrested.

He was eventually extradited from Dubai to Spain in 2006 and was only released from jail in 2014.

One of the investigators detained Tuesday, Mikhail Maximenko, is suspected of ordering the release of Kalashov's right-hand man Andrei Kochuikov, RBK news agency reported.

Kochuikov, who is nicknamed "the Italian," was arrested over the December shootout.

At a June hearing on extending Kochuikov's pre-trial detention, an Investigative Committee official failed to appear in court with a formal request to extend his arrest, Moskovsky Komsomolets popular daily reported. He was released, only to be immediately detained by the FSB.

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