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Published in Stream:
Russia Update: February 2, 2016
Press by
The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Investigative Committee Passes Parliamentary Inquiry to Probe Prosecutor Chaika - to Chaika Himself
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Surprisingly, the Investigative Committee (IC) accepted for review the allegations made by Alexander Navalny and his colleagues at the Anti-Corruption Fund regarding Prosecutor General Yury Chaika and his two sons, Artyom and Igor, and the Radio Svoboda, the Russian-language service of RFE/RL reported.

But not surprisingly, the IC has passed the buck to the Prosecutor General's Office.

As Dmitry Gudkov, one of the few opposition members of parliament has pointed out regarding the parliamentary inquiry he sent to the IC -- Chaika himself will be the one to do the investigation as in their reply letter the IC has said the matter is "outside its competency."

Translation: Everything is very simple: my inquiry on Chaika will be checked by Chaika himself. The results of the check, I sense, will be sensational.

The IC also said it found nothing questionable.

Gudkov had boiled the Navalny material down to two main questions for the Investigative Committee:

1. Was Olga Lopatina the wife of Deputy Prosecutor Gennady Lopatin at the time she was listed as a founder in the registration of the company Sakhar Kubani and during the mass murder committed in Kushchevskaya, and if so, what were her functions in the company?

2. Did Deputy Prosecutor Lopatin have any relationship to the investigation of the murders in Kushchevskaya, and if he did, what were his functions?

Navalny's group found that Lopatina's fellow officers in the company included the wives of members of the notorious Tsapok gang, whose leader Sergei Tsapok was convicted for murdering a family of 14 in Kushchevskaya.

Lopatina claimed she had no relationship to Tsapok's relatives and said that she was in friendly relations with her husband but divorced.

Navalny had evidence that the divorce could have been fictitious, in order to hide Lopatin's assets, when he discovered Olga and Gennady playing Facebook games together.

The Investigative Committee said these issues are "not within its competency" and had to be forwarded to the Prosecutor General; some lawyers have countered that in fact it was mandated to investigate other agencies and was shirking its duties. 

This affair highlights one of the chief flaws of the Russian criminal justice system -- while the Investigative Committee was ostensibly to solve the built-in problem that the prosecutor himself investigates claims of malfeasance within the procuracy, in fact the system still enables the prosecutor himself to be put in charge of probing whether his employees are corrupt or abusive.

The Prosecutor General's office said that it is not under obligation to investigate the incomes and businesses of the relatives of officials. This has sparked an effort by the Duma to pass a law barring the relatives of officials from engaging in business investments.

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick